Lebanon Claims Capture of Mossad-Backed Assassin
In Lebanon, the army is claiming a suspected assassin has confessed to murdering senior Hizbollah and Palestinian guerrillas on behalf of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. According to the Lebanese military officials, the suspect, Mahmoud Rafeh, said he was a leading member of a cell behind at least three other major assassinations in Lebanon. Rafeh was arrested last week in connection with the recent murder of two members of Islamic Jihad. Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad have long accused Israel of being behind a string of attacks that have killed their members. Hizbollah has battled Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon since the Israeli invasion of 1982.
2,000 Immigrants Arrested in DHS Sweep
Here in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has announced more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants have been arrested in a massive crackdown that began last month. Government officials said close to half of those arrested have criminal records. Just over 800 people have already been deported.
Bush Admin Eases EPA Law Following Industry Complaints
The Bush administration is being accused of undermining an environmental regulation at the request of energy and oil companies. According to the Los Angeles Times, the White House pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to loosen rules that would have forced companies to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones. The intervention was made after complaints by energy companies and a direct appeal from a Texas oil executive to White House senior advisor Karl Rove. In 2002, the executive, Ernest Angelo, wrote Rove the proposed regulations were causing many in the oil industry to doubt supporting Republicans “when we wind up with this type of stupidity." Rove forwarded the letter to top presidential environmental advisors and instructed them to respond. The EPA later modified the rules even after Congress had agreed on a detailed compromise. The new regulations went into effect this week. Sharon Buccino, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's land program called the rule change: "yet another example of the Bush administration rewarding their friends in the oil and gas industry at the expense of the environment and the public's health."
Lawmakers Protest Constraints on House Iraq War Debate
On Capitol Hill, the House will debate a resolution on the Iraq war today. Critics say the wording of the resolution will preclude any meaningful debate. The text of the resolution declares: “that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror [and] the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary." House rules will prevent Congress members from proposing amendments or alternative resolutions. At a press conference Wednesday, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers stood with yellow rope tied around their hands to symbolize what they called the lack of debate. Hawaiian Democrat Neil Abercrombie explained: "Our hands are tied literally on the floor of the people's house -- the one place that the American people should be able to expect a full and honest and open debate.”
Kerry Calls for Troop Withdrawal
Today’s debate comes as major splits continue to emerge within both parties over the war. On Tuesday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry told a gathering of liberal voters at the “Take Back America” conference in Washington that the Iraq war was a mistake and he was wrong to vote for it. Kerry announced he is introducing a resolution for a withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. Kerry attacked the war's architects as “armchair warriors whose front line is an air-conditioned conference room.” In an interview with the Boston Globe, Kerry later added: “It is both a right and an obligation for Americans to… end a war in Iraq that weakens the nation each and every day we are in it." Kerry’s proposal would keep some troops in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers.
Clinton Booed Over Iraq War Stance
Kerry’s comments at the “Take Back America” conference came shortly after an address from New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton was booed when she said she opposed a firm date for a troop withdrawal. As she left the stage following her speech, a group of audience members chanted: “Bring home the troops.”