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White House subpoenaed over wiretapping

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28 June 2007

White House subpoenaed over wiretapping

A United States Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday issued subpoenas to the White House, the Justice Department and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, in an effort to obtain documents concerning the National Security Agency's policy of wiretapping without warrants. Earlier attempts to scrutinise this controversial facet of the ‘war on terror' have been met with a "consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection", said committee chair Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D), hence the more brazen measures. 

A devastating ruling from a conservative court has demolished George W. Bush's "war paradigm", writes Sidney Blumenthal on openDemocracy.

Turkish military renews calls for Iraq incursion

Turkish military head General Yasar Buyukanit has renewed his call for a military incursion into northern Iraq to tackle Kurdish militants residing there. 

Six fighters killed in Lebanon

Six armed fighters have been killed by Lebanese troops in the northern town of Qalamoun. At least two of the fighters are thought to be Lebanese, two others Saudi.

Israeli incursion into Palestinian territories

Israeli air strikes and artillery fire have left at least 12 people dead in the Gaza Strip and southern town of Khan Younis. Tanks and bulldozers launched an incursion into the territories on Tuesday night. Three members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group were killed.

Five Israeli Defense Force (IDF) troops were wounded during clashes in the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday night, where they were searching for wanted militants, weapons and ammunition. Read the International Solidarity Movement blog for more details.

Abbas: all armed groups must disarm

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ordered all armed groups which are not part of the government's security forces, "no matter to whom they belong", to disarm immediately. A law prohibiting carrying any kind of weapon or explosives is also to be enforced. It is unclear how these measures will be enforced in Gaza.

Tony Blair embarks on new career

In his new capacity as the special Middle East envoy working on behalf of the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to promote the development of the Palestinian economy as well as working to develop the institutions necessary for a future Palestinian state.

Both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have welcomed his appointment, yet Blair's unequivocal support for US President George W. Bush's Iraq venture and his failure to call for an end to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer have left many sceptical of his new position. Hamas, for one, have described his appointment as "not acceptable to Hamas nor to the Palestinians", while Robert Fisk queries how Blair can possibly be given this job.

The shadow of the United States-Israel military relationship looms over Tony Blair's peace-envoy role in the middle east, writes Paul Rogers on openDemocracy.

Israeli evacuation of illegal outposts?

Political sources in Jerusalem have said that Olmert is planning to initiate the evacuation of several small illegal outposts in the West Bank. Olmert had proposed an "overall plan" for evacuation, but the experience of Amona outpost in January 2006 imbrued a reluctance to enforce such a policy. With Amir Peretz back at the defence ministry, it seems that the scheme is likely to be renewed.

Petrol rationing inflames Iran

Anti-regime violence has flared up in Iran after the administration announced on Tuesday that fuel would be rationed to 100 litres of petrol a month, as of Thursday. At least eight petrol stations have been burnt down, while angry mobs have clashed with riot police.

US: "mixed results" in ISF training

There are said to be "mixed results" in terms of the 346,500 Iraqi military and army personnel's capabilities, a subcommittee of the US Armed Services panel has said, despite $19bn (£9.5bn) having been spent on training them. As such, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are "not yet ready to take full responsibility for their country's security", the report says.

Lockerbie bomber to appeal

Libyan national Abdel Basset al-Megrahi has been granted the right to appeal his imprisonment for the 1988 Lockerbie aeroplane bombing, the independent Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission announced on Thursday. He was convicted in 2001.

30 wounded soldiers handed to ICRC by Niger rebels

Nomadic dissidents in northern Niger have handed-over 30 wounded government soldiers to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), after taking them prisoner a week ago during a raid on a military outpost in the Sahara desert.

Ethiopia bolsters anti-Eritrean defences

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has told MPs that his administration is taking measures to bolster national defence forces in order to "deter aggression and to repulse it if occurred". The country has long been at loggerheads with neighbouring Eritrea over the demarcation of territory between the two, and more recently in their support of opposing forces in Somalia.

A military personnel carrier was targeted in a suspected bomb attack on Thursday in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

IAEA team inspect N. Korea reactor

A four-person International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team has conducted an inspection of North Korea's Yongbyon plant, in a move considered by many as indicative of the country's commitment to nuclear disarmament. They are the first team to be granted access to the reactor since 2002. Pyongyang's decision to test a short-range ballistic missile on Wednesday threw somewhat of a shadow over proceedings, however.

A US Senate panel has approved a bill to raise the self-imposed cap on the national contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping budget from the current 25 percent to 27 percent for the calendar years 2006 to 2008. The bill has been sent to the floor for a vote on the proposal. US payments to the UN are currently $117m (£58.5m) in arrears.

Party supporters clash in East Timor

Opposition supporters of former President Xanana Gusmao's CNRT party have been accused of attacking activists of the ruling Fretilin party in East Timor

The blog Return to Rai Ketak discusses political party talk of oil revenue spending and oversight between CNRT and Fretilin.  

Tamil Tiger bases targeted in air strikes

Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed two Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bases in Mullaithivu on Thursday, the second such attack in three days.  Meanwhile, two soldiers have been killed by a roadside bomb in northern Jaffna, while 11 Tamil Tiger fighters are reported killed in the east of Sri Lanka.

Indi Samarajiva discusses the ever expanding parliament of Sri Lanka, where almost half of the country's MPs are ministers.

Bloody slum clearances in Rio

Eighteen suspected gangsters have been killed by Brazilian police during a major operation in a Rio de Janeiro slum, designed to root out drug traffickers and stem street violence before next month's Pan American Games. Ten other people were injured.

Meanwhile, 11 Colombia lawmakers held hostage by leftist guerrillas since 2002 were killed when an unidentified group attacked the camp where they were being held, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said on Thursday.

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