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C.I.A. Was Urged to Keep Interrogation Videotapes
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 – White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.
The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.
List of ‘Willing’ U.S. Allies Shrinks Steadily in Iraq
Nations Still There Toil in Relative Obscurity
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, December 8, 2007; Page A01
KUT, Iraq — The commander of the Kazakh soldiers in Iraq, all 29 of them, keeps a stack of English-language instruction books on his desk inside Forward Operating Base Delta. He already speaks Russian, Turkish and Kazakh, and after English, he plans to learn Chinese. He has the time.
Kazakhstan has two main missions here on the geographic and strategic periphery of the war, and both of them could be going better. The Kazakh troops are sappers, trained to dispose of explosives. They were ordered by their government not to leave the base after one of those bombs, nearly three years ago, killed the first and only Kazakh soldier to die in Iraq. The soldiers also run a water purification system but find less use for that these days, too. “It’s not necessary,” said Capt. Samat Mukhanov. “There is bottled water here.”
Parole officials: Huckabee pushed rapist’s release
Former Arkansas governor says he didn’t free the man who later killed at least one woman, but board members say they felt pressured.
By Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 8, 2007
Pastor Jay D. Cole had two close friends. One was an inmate in the Arkansas state penitentiary. There, the minister would sit with Wayne DuMond “and pray and read the Bible.” For a while, the prisoner’s wife even lived in Cole’s home.
Cole’s friendship with Mike Huckabee ran deeper, back to when Huckabee was the youngest-ever head of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The two men produced Bible lessons on videotape. “We worked heavily with him when he got politically involved too,” Cole said.
3 British residents leaving Guantanamo
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. – Three of five British residents held at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay will soon be released under a repatriation agreement with the British government, an attorney for one of the detainees said Friday.
Jordanian Jamil el-Banna, Libyan-born Omar Deghayes and Algerian Abdennour Sameur will be returned to Britain.
“These men have received nothing in the way of justice, nothing at all,” said Zachary Katznelson, an attorney with British human rights group “Reprieve,” which represents British residents at Guantanamo. “It’s about time they were returned to their families, and we’re grateful to the British government for making this happen.”
Outcast Kasparov still squaring up to Putin
· Election results rigged, says opposition leader
· Ex-chess champion hopes his fame will protect him
Luke Harding in Moscow
Saturday December 8, 2007
He has been slammed in jail, frozen off the airwaves, and flattened in last week’s elections in Russia. Spare a thought for Garry Kasparov. Not even playing Deep Blue, the computer that famously defeated him 10 years ago, can have been this hard.
Kasparov may have crushed a host of formidable opponents during his extraordinary career as chess world champion, but he is now up against an adversary more ruthless and cunning than any he ever faced across the chessboard.
Ex-wife takes on Chavez’s socialist push
BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela – A new voice has emerged to challenge Hugo Chavez’s push to turn Venezuela into a socialist society, someone with rare insight into the president’s passions and vulnerabilities: his ex-wife.
Marisabel Rodriguez says her return to the public spotlight is not a personal vendetta.
“This fight is not against a single person,” she said in an interview at her home with The Associated Press. “This struggle is against the danger posed by leaving a person in power for a long time.”
Rodriguez had largely kept out of the public spotlight since she and Chavez divorced in 2004. But the former first lady resurfaced with a series of appearances urging voters to vote “no” in last Sunday’s referendum on constitutional changes that would have let Chavez run for re-election indefinitely.
Colombia open to hostage deal
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — Under pressure at home and abroad to secure the release of hostages held by leftist rebels, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Friday dusted off a proposal he made two years ago to create a neutral “encounter point” where rebels would swap kidnapping victims for government-held guerrillas.
His government also is setting up a $100-million fund to give rewards to rebels who bring hostages home safely, Uribe said.
The announcement was the latest turn in efforts to secure the release of about 45 political hostages held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Uribe has said he would free hundreds of suspected rebel soldiers in exchange for the hostages.
What chance his latest plan has of succeeding was uncertain Friday because it has strings attached and resembles a 2005 offer that the rebels rejected. Nevertheless, relatives of hostages said they were hopeful that recent changes in the political climate might lead the FARC to accept
Bangladeshi hostage freed in Afghanistan: NGO
DHAKA (AFP) – A Bangladeshi charity worker kidnapped in Afghanistan has been released nearly three months after his abduction, an official said in Dhaka on Saturday.
Nurul Islam, who works for Bangladesh’s biggest non-government organisation, Brac, was set free by his abductors late on Friday night and taken into the custody of Afghan authorities, Brac spokesman M. Anwarul Haq said.
“Preliminary reports indicate Nurul Islam is in perfect health. He will be handed over to us after some health check-ups,” Haq said in the Bangladeshi capital.
He gave no other details about Islam’s release.
Islam, 39, was seized in broad daylight on September 15 from the Brac (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) office near Kabul.
S Korea oil slick reaches shore
Oil from a damaged tanker has reached South Korea’s west coast, not far from a nature reserve, coast guards report.
Emergency workers in Taean region are battling to stop the slick, now up to 20km (12 miles) long, from harming wildlife and valuable sea farms.
More than 10,000 metric tons of oil began leaking into the sea after the 146,000-ton Hebei Spirit oil tanker collided with a barge.
Maritime officials say it is the country’s worst oil spill.
Mogadishu sliding back into anarchy
· Unicef warns of ‘horrific’ human rights abuses
· Wounded denied medical care as civilians flee city
Xan Rice, east Africa correspondent
Saturday December 8, 2007
Women and children injured by stray bullets and mortars during fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu are being turned back at military checkpoints as they try to reach hospitals, the United Nations children’s agency said yesterday.
Describing the humanitarian situation in the city as the worst since 1991 – the last time Somalia had an effective government – Unicef’s representative for the country said the restrictions meant “people are being left behind in the streets to die”. The roadblocks are manned by government and Ethiopian troops, who are battling to contain a growing insurgency.
Gaza’s donkeys in demand as fuel crisis mounts
By Donald Macintyre in Shajaia, Gaza
Published: 08 December 2007
It’s not surprising the buyers at yesterday’s weekly donkey market here were looking over their prospective purchases with care. They opened the jaws of the tolerant beasts to examine their teeth, and test-drove them, harnessed to a cart, out of the crowded yard to gauge their pulling power.
“You need to make sure that it doesn’t kick people with its back legs, that it’s strong and that the colour of the coat is all right,” said Saber Dabour, 25. He had just bought a donkey for 410 Jordanian dinars, or just under £290.
For, while working donkeys have been bought and sold in Gaza since before Samson pulled down the Philistines’ temple, it is a long time since they have been as valuable as they are now. Prices have risen, according to the traders, by up to 60 per cent since Israel closed off the enclave after Hamas’s enforced takeover of the Strip almost six months ago.
Female suicide bomber kills 16 in Diyala revenge attack
By Robert H. Reid, AP
Published: 08 December 2007
A woman with explosives strapped to her body yesterday attacked the office of Sunni group that had turned against al-Qa’ida – one of two suicide bombings in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad that left at least 22 people dead.
An Iraqi official claimed the woman was seeking revenge for her two sons who were killed fighting for al-Qa’ida.
The two brazen attacks were the latest in a series of al-Qa’ida assaults against members of the new “awakening groups” – mostly Sunnis including ex-insurgents who have begun cooperating with the Americans to rid their communities of extremists.