On Thursday, the Vatican's top legal official pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI won't be implicated in any of the sex abuse cases currently under investigation, as he is technically a head of state. Also, the Vatican would like The New York Times to "reconsider its attack mode" regarding the pope.
We tearfully regret to inform you that an agreement that would legally extend the US imperial occupation of Iraq is at risk of falling apart, as Iraqi officials continue to make the audacious demand that U soldiers and mercenaries be subject to Iraqi law for crimes committed outside the scope of military operations.
Speaking to tribal leaders in Iraq's capital, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged not to sign a deal with the US that didn't include a withdrawal date He also said he would not accept "absolute immunity for anybody, whether Iraqis or foreigners" That's a sticking point for the Bush administration, although a draft deal is said to include limited immunity for U soldiers, along with a pullout date of 2011.
A British official has been accused of meddling in the affairs of the subcontinent by engineering the exit of Gen. Pervez Musharraf from Pakistan's political scene. Aitzaz Ahsan, a significant figure in Pakistan's pro-democracy scene, says Sir Mark Lyall Grant of the Foreign Office helped secure immunity from charges in exchange for Musharraf's resignation.
President Bush had hoped to shape America's military presence in Iraq for years after his departure from the White House by negotiating a long-term status-of-forces agreement, but a number of sticking points indicate there will be a much shorter time frame. U.S. negotiators have agreed to a kind of timetable for withdrawal, as demanded by the Iraqis, but are holding out over legal immunity for American forces.
Following Thursday's announcement that Congress had passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, there were some who weren't willing to take the news sitting down. In fact, Congress' capitulation sparked a legal response from the ACLU and The Nation magazine and two of its key contributors -- Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein -- in the form of a lawsuit.
You know a legislative compromise is one-sided when the AP headline announcing its passage reads "Senate Bows to Bush." Democratic advocates of the new FISA bill, passed by the Senate on Wednesday, are still trying to explain what they got in exchange for rolling back a few civil liberties and burying some of the president's abuses. When they figure it out, someone, somewhere, will surely be listening.
There's a lot more to object to in the new FISA bill than just retroactive immunity for the telecoms. It seems that the regulation of surveillance is still hopelessly out of date. How is a court supposed to handle complex algorithms and countless terabytes of data? Truthdig contributor Elliot Cohen warns that the new law could conceivably allow the theft of the 2008 presidential election.
The folks at Blackwater and other private security outfits in Iraq encountered a dramatic setback Wednesday after an Iraqi minister announced that private guards will no longer be given immunity from U.S military and Iraqi law, ending more than five years of unregulated mercenary violence in the country.