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Archive for Friday, July 26, 2002

Briefly

July 26, 2002

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Washington: White House urges funding for Afghanistan rebuilding

The Bush administration urged other nations Thursday to set aside qualms about instability in Afghanistan and come through on their pledge to put billions of dollars into rebuilding the war-ravaged country.

In turn, Afghan officials pledged not to linger on foreign aid rolls. "I'm grateful for the words of assurances, and for the actions which have been taken by the United States," said Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah.

Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Abdullah as the Afghan wrapped up a two-day summit here, at which he and fellow ministers brainstormed with American experts on ways to put their country back together after more than 20 years of war.

While those meetings took place Thursday, two border provinces sent $325,000 in customs duties to the Afghan government in Kabul, some of the first locally generated revenue since the ouster of the Taliban.

Virginia: Government: Taliban prisoner can be held without charges

The U.S. government argued Thursday that an American captured by the United States in the war on terrorism can be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant because he went to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban and was carrying an assault rifle when he surrendered.

The government submitted the argument in court papers after a federal judge ordered it to explain why it was holding Yaser Esam Hamdi.

Hamdi, 21, was captured in November in Afghanistan after a prison uprising by Taliban and al-Qaida members. It was later discovered that he was born in Louisiana to Saudi Arabian parents. He was moved in April to the jail at the Norfolk Naval Base.

Virginia's federal public defender has asked that Hamdi be released from jail. But government lawyers argued that he was an enemy combatant and could be held indefinitely without being charged and without being allowed to see a lawyer.

The public defender has until Tuesday to file a response.

Washington: US getting ready to expand Cuban prison for suspects

With captures of terrorist suspects expected to keep mounting, the U.S. military is planning to build more cells at its high-security prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The permanent jail at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station the main military facility for holding and interrogating suspects is nearly full, with 564 suspected al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners from the campaign in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Pentagon has accepted bids and expects to award a contract within days for construction of 200 more units at the 600-cell facility, known as Camp Delta, officials said Thursday.

The military also has about 80 detainees at a base in Bagram, Afghanistan, some of whom it would like to transfer to Cuba. An unknown number of others are held by U.S. forces in undisclosed locations, and still undisclosed others are under the control of the CIA and foreign governments, defense officials said.

The Cuba facility as well as the administration's holding of prisoners without charges nor access to lawyers has drawn criticism from human and civil rights groups.

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