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Friday, Apr 18th

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Additional key facts re: the anthrax investigation

It's perfectly possible that Bruce Ivins really is the anthrax attacker -- that he perpetrated the attacks and did so alone. Perhaps the FBI is in possession of mountains of conclusive evidence that, once revealed, will leave no doubt that Ivins is the guilty party. But no rational person could possibly assume that to be the case given the paltry amount of facts -- many of which contradict one another -- that are now known. Several points to note:

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Fury after Israeli officer in charge of prisoner's shooting is 'reassigned'

Outraged Israeli human rights organisations have united in challenging the military's decision to invoke only minor penalties against a senior officer over the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner by a soldier under his command.

Human rights group B'Tselem, which exposed the incident – shown on Israeli television after being videoed by a Palestinian woman in the village – said yesterday: "The army treats the shooting at point-blank range of a bound man [only] as inappropriate behaviour. It disgraces the values which it pretends to uphold."

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American Conservative: It was Feith’s office, not CIA, that forged the Habbush letter.

Ron Suskind’s new book alleges that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein linking the dictator to the 9/11 terrorists. The American Conservative’s Philip Giraldi argues today that “an extremely reliable and well placed source in the intelligence community” told him Suskind’s overall claim “is correct,” but that it was Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans — not the CIA — that forged the letter:

My source also notes that Dick Cheney, who was behind the forgery, hated and mistrusted the Agency and would not have used it for such a sensitive assignment. Instead, he went to Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans and asked them to do the job. … It was Feith’s office that produced the letter and then surfaced it to the media in Iraq. Unlike the [Central Intelligence] Agency, the Pentagon had no restrictions on it regarding the production of false information to mislead the public. Indeed, one might argue that Doug Feith’s office specialized in such activity.

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White House memo exposes Rove knew of problems with anthrax vaccine

The Department of Defense continued its controversial mandatory anthrax vaccinations program despite high ranking Bush administration officials acknowledging there were problems with the vaccine within months of the Bush administration taking office—well before the 9/11 attacks and the October 2001 anthrax letters.

A 2001 memorandum from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz indicates that the White House knew of problems relating to the Gulf War Syndrome and the military's controversial anthrax vaccine.

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Bin Laden's driver gets 66 months confinement

A six-member U.S. military jury Thursday sentenced Osama bin Laden's driver to 66 months in prison.

With credit extended by the judge for time already served, that likely means he will serve five months before being sent back to the normal population. Jurors deliberated just 70 minutes after a sentencing hearing in which Salim Hamdan, 40, expressed regret and apologized for any pain his actions caused victims of al Qaeda.

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China on Bush: Don't interfere in our affairs

China rejected President Bush's criticism Thursday of its human rights record and restrictions on religion, diplomatically telling him to stay out of its affairs only hours before he arrived in Beijing to attend the Olympics.

In a speech in Bangkok outlining America's achievements and challenges in Asia, Bush pushed for a free press, free assembly and labor rights in China, and against its detentions of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. He said he wasn't trying to antagonize China, but called such reform the only path the potent U.S. rival can take to reach its full potential.

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Navy says sub leaked radiation since 2006

Officials also have told the governments of Malaysia and Singapore that the sub made port calls to those countries while leaking the radioactive water, Navy officials said. The Houston also made stops in Guam and Hawaii.

Officials with knowledge of the incident could not quantify the radiation level but insisted it was "negligible" and an "extremely low level." The total amount of radioactivity that leaked while the sub was in port in Guam, Japan and Hawaii was less than a half of a microcurie (0.0000005 curies), or less than what is found in a 50-pound bag of lawn and garden fertilizer, the officials said.

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Mexican soldiers enter Arizona, hold agent briefly

Four Mexican soldiers crossed into Arizona and held a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint before realizing where they were and returning to Mexico, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The confrontation occurred early Sunday on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, about 85 miles southwest of Tucson, in an area fenced only with barbed wire, said Dove Crawford, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol.

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500: Deadly U.S. Milestone in Afghan War

June was the second deadliest month for the military in Afghanistan since the war began, with 23 American deaths from hostilities, compared with 22 in Iraq. July was less deadly, with 20 deaths, compared with six in Iraq. On July 22, nearly seven years after the conflict began on Oct. 7, 2001, the United States lost its 500th soldier in the Afghanistan war.

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