Friday, August 31, 2007

Postcards From The GWOT Reveal A Vital Truth: 'We Should Start Over'

Dawn: 200 media employees killed in Iraq since 2003
At least 200 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion of the country, Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Friday. The murder this week of an interpreter working for the US network CBS, brought the toll of media employees killed in Iraq to 200, the statement said.
CNN: U.S. lawmakers' plane fired upon
A U.S. military plane with three U.S. senators and a U.S. House member onboard came under rocket fire while leaving Baghdad, Iraq, for Amman, Jordan, Thursday night and had to take evasive maneuvers.

"I was looking out the window, a little small window, and I saw a shell or something," said Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama in a phone interview from Amman, where the plane landed safely. "And then I see a flare. Our plane started maneuvering and changing directions and shaking all around."

The rockets were "near misses," he told CNN affiliate WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama.
International Herald Tribune : U.S. cites 'secrets' privilege as it tries to stop suit on banking records
The Bush administration is signaling that it plans to turn again to a legal tool, the "state secrets" privilege, to try to stop a suit against a Belgian banking cooperative that secretly supplied millions of private financial records to the United States government, court documents show.

The suit against the consortium, known as Swift, threatens to disrupt the operations of a vital national security program and to disclose "highly classified information" if it continues, the Justice Department has said in court filings.

The "state secrets" privilege, allowing the government to shut down litigation on national security grounds, was once rarely used. The Bush administration has turned to it more than 30 times in terrorism-related cases, seeking to end public discussion of cases like the claims of an FBI whistle-blower and the abduction of a German terrorism suspect.
Washington Post: Justice Dept. Probing Whether Gonzales Lied
The Justice Department's inspector general indicated yesterday that he is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress, including whether he lied under oath about warrantless surveillance and the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

The disclosure by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine in a letter to Congress signals an expansion of the department's internal investigations into Gonzales's troubled tenure, probes that were not previously known to be focused so sharply on the attorney general and his testimony.
New York Times: U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq
An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts, the government says in court documents.

The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal that prompted Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to dispatch the Pentagon inspector general to Iraq to investigate.
New York Times: Report on Iran’s Nuclear Activity Exposes Split
A report released Thursday showing a slow but steady expansion of Iran’s nuclear technology has exposed a new divide between United Nations arms inspectors and the United States and its allies over how to contain Tehran’s atomic program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report that Iran was being unusually cooperative and had reached an agreement with the agency to answer questions about an array of suspicious past nuclear activities that have led many nations to suspect it harbors a secret effort to make nuclear arms. The agency added that while Tehran’s uranium enrichment effort is growing, the output is far less than experts had expected.

“This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the I.A.E.A. director general, said in an interview. “It’s a significant step.”

But the Bush administration and its allies, which have won sanctions in the United Nations Security Council in an effort to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment, saw the latest report as more evidence of defiance, not cooperation.
Washington Post : White House Pushes Back on Iraq Report
An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce objections from the White House on Thursday...

A draft report by the Government Accountability Office concluded Iraq has satisfied three of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and partially met two others, a senior administration official said Thursday. None of those are the high-profile political issues such as passage of a national oil revenue sharing law that the Bush administration has said are critical to Iraq's future.

The GAO may alter some of its findings in response to administration arguments, one official said.
International Herald Tribune: U.S. panel will urge broad overhaul of Iraqi police
An independent commission established by Congress to assess Iraq's security forces will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, administration and military officials said Thursday.

The commission, headed by General James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units "be scrapped" and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that "we should start over," the official said.