The NY Times' Feb. 18 front-page profile of John Negroponte, Bush's appointment as Director of National Intelligence, did at least mention—albeit towards the end, at the bottom of page 16—"allegations that he played down human rights violations in Honduras when their exposure could have undermined the Reagan administration's Latin American agenda." (NYT, Feb. 18)
The American Civil Liberties Union has called for creation of an independent special counsel to investigate "torture policies" following the Senate's confirmation Feb. 15 of Michael Chertoff as Homeland Security Secretary. (ACLU, Feb. 15) Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division during the post-9-11 sweeps, in which many detainees were physically abused—as documented in a 2003 report by the DoJ's own Inspector General. See WW4 REPORT #89
More horrific claims of rights violations in Uncle Sam's military prison camps in Iraq and Afghanistan—including threatening detainees who dared to complain of beatings and torture. One Iraqi detainee who was apparently beaten and injured was forced to drop his claim before being released, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a new report.
Six are dead and over 40 injured following a car bomb attack in the southern Thai city of Sungai Kolok. The bomb went off in a hotel parking lot hours after newly-elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had completed a visit to the restive Muslim-majority region. The government blamed relatives of wanted insurgent leaders for the blast.
In the global outcry over the slaying of US nun Dorothy Stang, a local crusader for the Amazon rainforest and its threatened peasants and Indians, Brazil's President Luis Inacio da Silva signed a decree Feb. 17 creating two vast protected areas in the forest. Part of the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) initiative sponsored by the World Bank and World Wildlife Fund, the new protected area includes the 8.3 million-acre Terra do Meio Ecological Station and the 1.1 million-acre Serra do Pardo National Park in the eastern sector of the central Amazon. "Conservation in the Amazon takes a giant step forward with this decree," said Carter Roberts, WWF's chief conservation officer. (WWF press release, Feb. 18)
Those truly naive enough to think Howard Dean's ascendency to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee shows a progressive agenda should look no further than the ex- Gov. of Vermont's terrible record in denying the indigenous rights of fellow Vermonters the Abenaki people. That and his sub-courageous flip-flopping for daring to suggest the US have a more "even-handed" approach to the Israel-Palestine question.
You read it here first, but now its official. Iran's government has officially blamed US spy drones for a wave of UFO sightings, and warns that it will shoot the craft down. Information Minister Ali Yunessi threatened that if the craft come within range, "they will definitely meet our fire." (NYT, Feb. 18)
John Negroponte has been named by Bush to be the first Director of National Intelligence, a post created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act, recommended by the 9-11 Commission and signed into law in December. If confirmed by the Senate, Negroponte will oversee some 15 agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NSA, Homeland Security Dept., etc. (LAT, Feb. 17)