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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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A US Army intelligence analyst has been charged in connection with the leaking of classified video and documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Army Specialist Bradley Manning is accused of releasing video of a July 2007 attack in which US military gunships indiscriminately kill twelve Iraqis and wound several others, including two children. In addition, Manning is also charged with passing on over fifty State Department cables. He faces up to fifty-two years in prison. Manning was detained while serving in Iraq in May after an acquaintance said he had taken responsibility for sending WikiLeaks the video along with thousands of classified US government records. Manning hasn’t retained a civilian lawyer and is being represented by a military defense attorney. In an interview with Democracy Now! last month, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg urged support for Manning should he turn out to be WikiLeaks’s source.
Daniel Ellsberg: “For forty years I’ve hoped that someone would put out information on the scale that I did, but in a more timely way than I did, before I chose to do it in my time. And Manning would be the first person in forty years to have done that, if it is true that he’s put out a great raft of cables, which he regards as criminal. And I give him — I’m very gratified, if that’s the case. And I hope he’s not the last.”
The Pentagon has imposed new media restrictions in the aftermath of the magazine article that led to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal last month. Under the new rules, top-level Pentagon and military officials must first receive clearance before agreeing to any interviews or public engagement. McChrystal was forced out as the top US commander in Afghanistan after Rolling Stone published an article in which he and his aides make disparaging remarks about top administration officials. The article also exposed longstanding disagreements between civilian and military officials over the Afghan war. In announcing the new rules, Defense Secretary Robert Gates also issued a warning over the release of classified information, vowing to prosecute leakers.
In news from Afghanistan, NATO forces have mistakenly killed five Afghan soldiers in a botched air strike. The Afghan soldiers were operating in Ghazni province when they came under fire. In a separate incident, three US troops were reportedly killed earlier today in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan.
The Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate its six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House imposed the ban in May as the BP oil spill spiraled into what many have called the worst environmental disaster in US history. US District Judge Martin Feldman struck down the ban last month. Feldman has extensive stock holdings in energy companies, including Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig where the explosion occurred, and Halliburton, which also performed work at the site. Feldman also owns stock in two of BP’s largest shareholders, BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase. The legal filing comes as the spill continues to spread around the Gulf, with oil reaching parts of Texas as well as New Orleans’s Lake Pontchartrain.
In other oil spill news, two environmental groups have announced a settlement in their lawsuit to prevent BP from burning alive endangered sea turtles in the cleanup of the Gulf Coast. The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network say BP and the US Coast Guard have agreed to develop safeguards to ensure no turtles are burned alive during attempts to contain the oil. We’ll have more on the BP oil spill later in the broadcast.
The Obama administration has filed a federal lawsuit over the Arizona anti-immigrant law that requires police officers to stop and interrogate anyone they suspect is an undocumented immigrant. The Justice Department suit accuses Arizona of unconstitutionally conflicting with federal law and potentially undermining immigration enforcement, as well as leading to harassment of residents who can’t prove their legal status. The law is scheduled to take effect at the end of the month.
President Obama hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Tuesday for the first time since Israel’s deadly assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May. Obama and Netanyahu emphasized the “unbreakable” bond between Israel and the United States and downplayed recent US-Israeli tensions over Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Despite ongoing Israeli settlement expansion, roadblocks, closures and the attack on the flotilla, Obama said he thinks Israel “has shown restraint.”
President Obama: “I think the Israeli government, working through layers of various governmental entities and jurisdictions, have shown restraint over the last several months that I think has been conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks. And my hope is, is that once direct talks have begun, well before the moratorium has expired, that that will create a climate in which everybody feels a greater investment in success, not every action by one party or the other is taken as a reason for not engaging in talks, so there ends up being more room created by more trust.”
Netanyahu went on to downplay talk of simmering US-Israeli tensions, saying that ties between the two governments remain strong.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Here I’ll have to paraphrase Mark Twain, that the reports about the demise of the special US-Israel relations — relationship aren’t just premature, they’re just flat wrong. There is a depth and richness of this relationship that is expressed every day. Our teams talk. We don’t make it public. The only thing that’s public is that you can have differences on occasion in the best of families, in the closest of families, that comes out public.”
Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama comes as the Israeli military prosecutor has launched disciplinary and legal action in four separate cases from Israel’s twenty-two-day assault on Gaza last year.
The British government has announced an independent inquiry into whether British troops aided the torture of foreign prisoners in US custody. British Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement before the British Parliament.
David Cameron: “About a dozen cases have been brought in court about the actions of UK personnel, including, for example, that since 9-11 they may have witnessed mistreatment such as the use of hoods and shackles. This has led to accusations that Britain may have been complicit in the mistreatment of detainees. The longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom and fairness and human rights.”
In addition to the probe, Cameron also says Britain could pay compensation to some of the torture victims who’ve filed lawsuits in British courts. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union praised the British move and urged the Obama administration to follow suit, saying, “The Obama administration should not only end its efforts to prevent accountability for torturers and justice for survivors, but follow Britain’s lead and broaden the investigation here in this country.”
A new analysis says the world is headed for an average temperature rise that far exceeds pledges at the Copenhagen climate conference last year. According to the Climate Interactive Scoreboard, temperatures are expected to rise nearly four degrees Celsius by the end of the century, double the maximum two degrees discussed in Copenhagen. A separate analysis from the Potsdam Institute in Germany says there’s “virtually no chance” current pledges will keep temperatures below two degrees and predicts an increase of 3.5 degrees. Developing countries have long warned temperatures should be capped at 1.5 degrees to avoid environmental catastrophe.
The news comes as an East Coast heat wave is breaking records here in the United States. On Tuesday, the mercury level reached all-time highs in a number of cities, including 103 degrees Fahrenheit in New York, 103 degrees in Newark, and 102 degrees in Philadelphia. Temperatures are expected to again top 100 degrees today from Virginia to Maine.
And the environmentalist Ted Glick has narrowly avoided a jail sentence after facing up to three years for hanging two banners in a government building last year. Last September, the day the Senate returned from summer recess, Ted Glick and over two dozen other peaceful demonstrators unfurled two banners saying “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work” inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Prosecutors were seeking a tripling of Glick’s sentence because of two previous convictions relating to nonviolent protests. But on Tuesday, the judge in the case gave Glick a suspended sentence with one year of probation. (Related coverage: Environmentalist Facing 3-Year Prison Sentence For Unfurling Banners in Senate Office Building)