President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney met for their third and final presidential debate Monday night before the general election two weeks from today. With the focus on foreign policy, both candidates shared wide agreement on issues including support for the Israeli government, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. But they clashed over a few key points, including military spending, Iran and Libya. In one exchange, Obama chided Romney for seeking to increase military spending by an additional $2 trillion.
President Obama: “I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships; it’s — it’s what are our capabilities.”
A retired CIA agent who publicly confirmed the torture of al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah is set to plead guilty in court today to leaking classified information. John Kiriakou, who served from 1990 to 2004, is best known for a 2007 ABC News interview detailing how Zubaydah was waterboarded in CIA custody.
John Kiriakou: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. And as time has passed, and as September 11th has — you know, has moved farther and farther back into history, I think I’ve changed my mind. And I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.”
Brian Ross: “Why do you say that now?”
John Kiriakou: “Because we’re Americans, and we’re better than that.”
Under a plea deal, Kiriakou will admit to a single count of revealing the identity of a covert officer, which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 months. Kiriakou’s indictment earlier this year marked the latest in the Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers.
An African-American woman in Louisiana has been brutally attacked and left with serious injuries in an apparent hate crime. Twenty-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt reportedly told police she was set on fire by three men who wrote the initials KKK and a racial slur on her car. She suffered burns on more than half her body and is now in critical condition. No arrests have been made in the case.
Doctors for the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai say she has been able to stand and write for the first time since being shot and seriously wounded earlier this month. The 15-year-old Yousafzai is undergoing medical treatment in Britain after militants shot her for publicly campaigning for girls’ education. Yousafzai’s British doctor said she is showing slow improvement by the day.
Dr. Dave Rosser: “She’s not out of the woods yet. Having said that, she’s doing very well. In fact, she was standing, with some help, for the first time this morning when I went in to see her. She’s communicating very freely. She’s writing. She has a tracheotomy tube in, because her airway was swollen by the passing of the bullet.”
Violence continues to flare in the Panamanian city of Colón amidst protests over the sale of state-owned land to private companies. On Monday, police fired gunshots to disperse demonstrators who had blocked roads. The shootings followed days of protests that saw at least three deaths last week, including a nine-year-old boy who died when police opened fire.
The Honduras Supreme Court has struck down a proposal for a number of so-called private cities with their own tax and justice systems. Wealthy landowners had pushed the plan, drawing opposition from human rights groups. But Honduran justices ruled the establishment of private jurisdictions outside of Honduran law would violate the constitution.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing the Israeli government of abandoning any effort to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. Speaking during a visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank, Carter said Israel, with U.S. backing, has never been less publicly committed to a two-state solution.
Jimmy Carter: “I think, for the first time in my memory of the Mideast peace process, we have reached a crisis stage, because all the previous prime ministers of Israel have been detectably and provenly committed to a two-state solution. I would say that every [Israeli] prime minister that I’ve known has been a pursuer of the two-state solution, and I don’t know that President Obama has found that Prime Minister Netanyahu is willing to go that route.”
In Canada, thousands of people gathered outside the provincial parliament in Victoria, British Columbia, on Monday to protest a massive oil pipeline. The rally was billed as the largest to date against the Enbridge corporation’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would carry crude oil from Alberta to Canada’s West Coast. Critics say it stands to cut through sensitive environmental areas and First Nations’ land.
Rallies were held across the United States on Monday in a national day of action against police brutality and the targeting of people of color. In New York City, hundreds joined the October 22nd Coalition for a rally and march leaving from Union Square.
Nichole Cuevas: “My brother was working a late night shift at my brother’s — my uncle’s grocery store, and three robbers went in to rob the store. And my brother was trying to escape the robbery to not get killed, and when he ran out of the store, there was a police officer right in front of the door, and he shot him. And the police officer says it was a mistake, but we obviously — you can’t just kill someone as a mistake.”
Aidge Patterson: “Across the country, the police brutality movement is finally coming back to a place where people are really holding police accountable from a grassroots level up to a legislative level, and we see the Community Safety Act being passed or going through here in New York, as well as the class action lawsuit against stop and frisk, all the way down to grassroots-level organizing like Copwatch.”
A recent study from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement found that at least 110 African Americans were killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes during the first six months of the year, a rate of roughly one every 40 hours.
A Muslim-American man has returned home to New York after his inclusion on the U.S. government’s “no-fly” list left him stranded in Europe for over three weeks. Samir Suljovic had been unable to return from Vienna and Munich after the U.S. government barred him from flying without explanation. He was finally allowed to board a U.S.-bound flight after a public campaign on his behalf. Suljovic says he believes he was targeted because of his Muslim faith.
The longtime Native American activist Russell Means has died at the age of 72. Means was an early leader of the American Indian Movement, and he helped head the uprising at Wounded Knee in 1973.