Pakistan has lodged a formal complaint with the US over a deadly ground attack inside its borders. Pakistani officials say at least twenty civilians were killed after helicopters delivered a US-led unit into Pakistan. US forces are said to have fired inside three homes containing women and children. The attack marks the first time the US has used ground troops inside Pakistan. A Pakistani government statement condemned what it called a “gross violation of Pakistan’s territory” and “a grave provocation.” US officials have declined comment so far. The attack comes less than two weeks after a US air strike in Afghanistan killed as many as ninety civilians, including sixty children. The US has disputed the casualty toll.
Another US military shooting has claimed the lives of Iraqi troops. Seven Iraqi soldiers were killed in the town of Tarmiya in what the US calls a mistaken attack.
In other Iraq news, US troops have arrested a freelance Iraqi photographer working for the Reuters news agency. Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed was arrested at his home in the town of Mahmudiya. Mohammed’s family says US forces took his photography equipment. The US military has refused to discuss his case so far.
Here in St. Paul, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination last night in front of a roaring crowd at the Xcel Center. Making her prime-time TV debut, Palin defended her relative lack of political experience by making light of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s time as a community organizer in Chicago.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they’re listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.Now, we tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.”
The convention also heard from three of McCain’s former rivals for the Republican nomination: former Massachussets governor Mitt Romney, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Rudolph Giuliani: “On the other hand, you have a resume from a gifted man with an Ivy League education. He worked as a community organizer — what? — he worked — I said he worked as a community organizer. He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics. Then he ran for the state legislature, where nearly 130 times he was unable to make a decision, yes or no.”
On the Democratic side, vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has left open the possibility of prosecuting Bush administration officials if he and Obama win the election. Speaking in Florida, Biden said a Democratic White House would pursue criminal charges if evidence of wrongdoing is compelling. Biden explained, “[N]ot out of vengeance, not out of retribution, [but] out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president — no one is above the law.”
In St. Paul, Ramsey County prosecutors have formally charged eight members of the group RNC Welcoming Committee with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism. The eight activists are believed to be the first persons ever charged under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act. The activists face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison. According to the National Lawyers Guild, the criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any of the defendants personally engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. Instead, authorities are seeking to hold the eight defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals during the opening days of the Republican National Convention.
Two more journalists have been released from jail in St. Paul. Lambert Rochfort and Joseph La Sac, both filmmakers from Pepperspray Productions, were arrested on Monday.
The Bush administration has announced plans boost aid to Georgia following its conflict with Russia last month. The US will give Georgia $1 billion in reconstruction aid. The move coincided with Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to several Caspian states. Cheney’s first stop was in Azerbaijan.
Vice President Dick Cheney: “Although we decided on this visit months ago, we met this evening in the shadow of the recent Russian invasion of Georgia, an act that has been clearly condemned by the international community. President Bush has sent me here with a clear and a simple message for the people of Azerbaijan and this entire region: the United States has deep and abiding interest in your well-being and security.”
Cheney also met with officials from Chevron and BP. The two oil giants are involved in the Caspian pipeline that runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia.
Vice President Cheney: “The United States strongly believes that together with the nations of Europe, including Turkey, we must work with Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia on the additional routes for energy exports that ensure the free flow of resources.”
New Orleans residents continue to pour back into their city following Hurricane Gustav. More than one million homes and businesses remain without power. Visiting Louisiana, President Bush said the government was better prepared over Hurricane Katrina.
President Bush: “We’re much better coordinated this time than we were with Katrina. The state government, the local government and the federal government were able to work effectively together. There is still more work to be
Some 80,000 people remain in emergency shelters in Louisiana. New Orleans resident Gary Cambor was one of tens of thousands to refuse to leave his home.
Gary Cambor: “The last time I left my house, it took me two-and-a-half years to get back here. I said I’m not leaving this time, because they might take — see, I’ve been talking to people, and they’ve been saying they wish they wouldn’t have left, because it seemed like they can’t get back home. So I wasn’t planning on leaving. They’d just have to kill me this time.”
And a federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to respond to an ACLU lawsuit demanding documents on waterboarding and other forms of torture. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein says the White House must either release the memos or justify their continued secrecy. The ACLU lawsuit seeks records on the interrogation of prisoners in US jails overseas.