Islamist terrorismThe report finds that, despite the repeated denials from George W. Bush and Tony Blair, the Iraq occupation is directly to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. It finds that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compares the period between September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count -- excluding the Arab-Israel conflict -- shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. Iraq has served as the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist backlash, according to the study, which says that the number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose from 7 to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the 9/11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489, and in Europe from none to 297.
Investigating the White HouseThese subpoenas concern the firing of seven US attorneys, some of whom were investigating public corruption cases against Republican members of Congress. But subsequent subpoenas will probe the corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence demonstrated from the prewar Iraq intelligence scandal to the callous and inept adminstration response to Hurricane Katrina.
Walter Reed scandalAs early as 2003, Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley was told by representatives of veterans organizations that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds. Steve Robinson of Veterans for America says he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began, and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need. ...I met guys who weren't going to appointments because the hospital didn't even know they were there." Kiley, the former commander at Reed, brushed Robinson off, telling him to make his complaints to a sergeant major instead. Since the Washington Post expose of horrific conditions at Walter Reed was published in February 2008 (see the February 2007 page), military and hospital officials have expressed their shock and regret at the revelations. But it is becoming clear that those expressions of sympathy and anger are, at least in some instances, mere playacting.
US Attorney firingsThough he refuses to name either Wilson or Domenici, the two are confirmed as the members of Congress who pressured Iglesias to file premature indictments against New Mexico Democrats before the November 2006 elections, in an apparent attempt to influence the tight race between Wilson and her Democratic opponent, by two independent sources as reported by McClatchy News Service. Iglesias says, "The first call was in mid-October. The caller was asking -- this was not a staff member, an actual member of Congress -- the person was asking about 'I want to know if there are any sealed indictments.' And I said, 'Sealed indictments? We only do that for juvenile cases or national security cases. It's fairly unusual.' Instantly red flags went up. I didn't want to talk about it. Federal prosecutors can't talk about indictments in general until they're made public. So I was evasive, I shucked and jived like Walter Payton used to for the Chicago Bears, and the call was ended rather abruptly.... Approximately a week and a half later I got a second call from another member of Congress wanting to know about when the corruption matters were going to be filed. Again, red lights went on. It was a very unpleasant phone call, because I know that members of Congress should not be making phone calls about pending matters, pending investigations, indictment dates, things of that nature."
Iraq war and occupationIf they don't, he says, "If the Democrats don't use their power, when we're in the majority in both houses, we're going to start owning this war. It is George Bush's war, but if we don't get serious we're going to start owning this war." Feingold says, "I would prefer a clean effort to try to eliminate the funding for the war, to actually have a date like we did with Somalia, where the war will end. But the fact is that when I proposed a deadline a year and a half ago, people said well, there's no support for that, even the Democrats are against it. Well, now it's in all the drafts. So, the fact is that people come to the realization that if we're going to end this war, we're to have use our real power. The power of the purse. And I can tell from you private conversations, the realization is growing that the only way to stop this thing is to use our power. ...If the Democrats don't use their power, when we're in the majority in both houses, we're going to start owning this war. It is George Bush's war, but if we don't get serious we're going to start owning this war." (C-SPAN/ThinkProgress [link to video])
US nuclear programThree different national weapons laboratories, led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will collaborate to build the nuclear weapon. The new nuke will replace aging warheads now deployed on missiles aboard Trident submarines. The contract decision was made by the Nuclear Weapons Council, which consists of officials from the Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department. The nuclear administration will issue the contract and run the program. The cost of the development is secret, though outside experts say it will cost billions of dollars -- perhaps tens of billions -- to develop the bomb, build factories to restart high-volume weapons production and then assemble the weapons.
Walter Reed scandalThe day before, Harvey fired the commander of Walter Reed, George Weightman, and temporarily replaced him with the Army's surgeon general, Kevin Kiley. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that Harvey voluntarily resigned, senior defense officials say that Gates asked Harvey to step down. Gates was reportedly angry that, after firing Weightman, Harvey replaced him with Kiley, whose own role in the Walter Reed debacle is perhaps even more questionable than Weightman's. "I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed," Gates says. "Some have shown too much defensiveness, and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems." The Army announces soon after that Major General Eric Schoomaker will take command of Walter Reed and the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command. The Army undersecretary, Pete Geren, will become acting secretary until Bush nominates a permanent replacement for Harvey. Harvey himself has only been in his post since November 2004; before that, he had worked for years with several defense contractors.
Walter Reed scandalThe Pentagon is attempting to block Weightman's testimony. Waxman intends to ask Weightman, among other things surrounding the Walter Reed scandal, about a contract to manage the medical center awarded to a company that had documented troubles fulfilling a government contract to deliver ice to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Waxman says if the Pentagon refuses to let Weightman testify, he will subpoena Weightman. According to a letter from Waxman to Weightman, he believes the Walter Reed contract may have pushed dozens of health care workers to leave jobs at the troubled medical center, which he says in turn threatened the quality of care for hundreds of military personnel receiving treatment there. Weightman had been slated to testify before Congress on March 5. The Army has tried to withdraw him from the hearing.
War in AfghanistanThe information comes from a lengthy article written by Times reporter Craig Pyes for the Nieman Watchdog Project. The Times launched an investigation of its own after the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) opened its own investigation into the deaths, but only after the Times and the nonprofit organization Crimes of War Project revealed that a young Afghan soldier had died in the custody of the Special Forces team after allegations that he had been tortured. The Pentagon said it had no record of the death. The Times's 2004 story was published just two months after the Army's inspector general had issued a detailed report on detainee abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its conclusion: that it had found "no incidents of abuse that had not been reported through command channels." At the same time the Times tried to investigate the deaths, human rights organizations were raising questions about the relatively low number of successful military prosecutions in criminal homicide and prisoner abuse cases and whether the military is capable of policing itself in times of war.
Partisan Bush appointeesSenate Democrats are likely to oppose the nomination. Baroody's NAM has long worked to lift restrictions on corporations that protect consumers from shoddy and dangerous products; critics say Baroody's nomination is emblematic of Bush's efforts to restrict government regulations by executive order and action rather than by congressional approval.
Lewis Libby perjury trialUntil now, little information about the status of the jurors' deliberations has been made public. Jurors write in their request, "We would like clarification of the term 'reasonable doubt.' Specifically, is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event in order to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Walton had instructed the jurors before they began deliberating that "the government is not required to prove guilt beyond all doubt, or to a mathematical or scientific certainty."
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceSpeaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Coulter says of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards." The audience is at first startled, then breaks into applause. Earlier in the speech, she makes an equally ugly slur against former vice president Al Gore and liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, asking the audience, "Did Al Gore actually swallow Michael Moore?" During the question-and-answer period, when a questioner asks Coulter why she praises marriage but broke off so many engagements, she responds by calling the questioner ugly.