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Iran has announced it will allow international nuclear inspectors to visit its secret Parchin military complex. Iran has long said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, but some international analysts have speculated Iran may be using the Parchin complex to do research relevant to nuclear weapons. It is not clear when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the site.
On Monday, President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Obama urged Netanyahu to back off on threats of military action against Iran.
President Obama: “We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far. And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions. I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it.”
Hours after the White House meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Benjamin Netanyahu: “We’re determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We leave all options on the table, and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear-armed Iran must be stopped.”
Eight retired U.S. military and intelligence officials have signed an open letter to President Obama urging him to say no to war with Iran. The letter was published as a full-page ad in the Washington Post on Monday. Signatories included Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Paul Pillar, a former CIA national intelligence officer.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday the president has the legal authority to order the killing of U.S. citizens overseas if they have ties to terrorist organizations. Holder’s comments mark the first time he has spoken publicly about targeted killings since a U.S. drone killed the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen and another U.S. citizen five months ago.
Eric Holder: “Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process; it does not guarantee judicial process.”
After Anwar al-Awlaki’s death in September, President Obama described it as a “significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates.” Five months later, the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, remains a powerful force in Yemen. At least 185 Yemeni troops were killed in a militant attack on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ansar al-Sharia is also claiming it recently assassinated a CIA officer in Aden. Yemeni officials have confirmed a U.S. security team was attacked, but denied there were any casualties.
Voters head to the polls today in 10 states for what is known as “Super Tuesday.” States holding primaries are Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Oklahoma, Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska. On Monday, Mitt Romney campaigned in Ohio, where he is in a close race with Rick Santorum.
Mitt Romney: “I look at this campaign right now, and I see a lot of folks all talking about lots of things, but what we need to talk about to defeat Barack Obama is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government, and that’s what I do.”
Up for grabs today are 437 delegates. Newt Gingrich is expected to win his home state of Georgia with 76 delegates. Romney is expected to easily win Virginia since only he and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot. Santorum has been campaigning hard to win in Ohio.
Rick Santorum: “Don’t listen to the polls. Don’t listen to all the media hype and all the things about what this race is about. Just focus in on whether we want a man who can stand up and paint a very different vision for this country, someone who’s got a principled record, someone who’s willing to go out and talk about all the issues that are confronting this country — all of the issues, not just how we’re going to manage the economy better. This country is more than just the economy.”
In other campaign news, Romney’s wife is coming under scrutiny after she said, “I don’t even consider myself wealthy.” The Romneys are worth at least $250 million. Mitt Romney recently faced a backlash after he said his wife drove “a couple of Cadillacs.” Voters will be deciding a number of other issues today. In Ohio, there is a closely watched primary House race between two longtime members of Congress: Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich. Meanwhile, in Vermont, voters in 50 towns will be voting on local resolutions challenging corporate personhood and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Russian police have detained more than 600 opposition protesters in Moscow and St. Petersburg for taking part in protests Monday against Vladimir Putin’s election victory. Putin won Sunday’s presidential election with 63.6 percent of the vote, but international election monitors said the conditions of the election were clearly skewed in favor of Putin.
In news on Syria, opposition activists said at least 14 people have been killed by government forces, including five people in Hama and three in the rebel stronghold of Homs. Activists also said the Syrian military was targeting a bridge near the Lebanese border that has been used as a crossing by wounded civilians and refugees. Meanwhile, China’s special envoy to Syria is expected to press Syrian authorities today for a ceasefire to end the country’s crisis that has killed at least 7,500 people.
On Monday, Sen. John McCain of Arizona became the first U.S. senator to call for the United States to begin launching air strikes against Syria.
John McCain: “Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power. Therefore, at the request of the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army, local coordinating committees inside the country, the United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through air strikes on Assad’s forces.”
The White House has moved the upcoming G8 meeting from Chicago to the heavily guarded Camp David in Maryland. Chicago was preparing to hold back-to-back meetings in May of the G8 and NATO. The NATO meeting is still happening in Chicago as planned. Protest groups have been planning large demonstrations to coincide with both meetings. Joe Iosbaker, head of the United National Antiwar Committee in Chicago, described the decision to move the G8 meeting to Camp David as a major victory. He said, “The administration is taking G8 someplace where they won’t have to face the people who suffer under their policies.”
The Director of National Intelligence said Monday that far fewer prisoners released from Guantánamo Bay rejoined militant groups than previously reported. In a new report, the intelligence office says just under 16 percent of detainees released — 95 out of 600 — were confirmed to re-offend.
In news from Ecuador, a dozen female environmental activists were detained inside the Chinese embassy Monday. They were protesting Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s decision to sign a deal with a Chinese firm to open a massive copper mine in the Amazon.
Thousands of students and activists marched on the California State Capitol in Sacramento Monday to protest cuts in higher education in an action dubbed “Occupy the Capitol.” The protests were sparked by state budget cuts that have led to sharp increases in tuition and a decrease in the number of courses offered at public universities and colleges. The cost of tuition has tripled at California’s public universities over the past decade. Police arrested 68 people who refused to leave the Capitol after it closed. Four people were arrested earlier in the day.
Two people were arrested in Moscow, Idaho, late Sunday night after they attempted to stop the passage of megaload trucks carrying oil company equipment to the Canadian tar sands. Activists said the two were arrested after they linked arms and sat down in the street in an attempt to block the trucks. Sunday’s action was one of dozens spurred by the passage through Moscow of shipments carrying oil-related equipment to the tar sands.
New data show black students face far harsher punishments in public schools than their white peers. Data released by the U.S. Department of Education show that while black students constituted only 18 percent of those enrolled in sample schools, they accounted for 39 percent of all school expulsions. Black students were three-and-a-half times as likely overall to be suspended or expelled than white students. School reports also showed that more than 70 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to local law enforcement were black or Latino. Students of color with disabilities were also disproportionately subjected to physical restraints.