Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Briefly - Nation

July 8, 2005


Washington, D.C.

Widespread mistreatment of detainees not found

A military self-examination of allegations that medical personnel mistreated prisoners found a few instances of abuse but no widespread problems, the Army's surgeon general said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley's findings were based on surveys and interviews with roughly 1,000 medical personnel who were associated with the care of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay Cuba. He said his survey did not include detainees, the Red Cross or other organizations.

Of the medical personnel surveyed, 32 said they witnessed abuse of prisoners. All but six said they reported the abuse to criminal investigators or their chain of command; the others said the problem was dealt with "on the spot."

Less than a dozen of the incidents involved possible mistreatment allegedly committed by other medical personnel, Kiley told reporters at the Pentagon after briefing some members of Congress on his findings.


Nothing criminal found in Schiavo's collapse

Florida's state attorney said there was no evidence Terri Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago involved criminal activity, and Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday declared an end to the state's inquiry.

Bush had asked State Attorney Bernie McCabe to investigate Schiavo's case after her autopsy last month. He said he now considers the state's involvement with the matter finished.

The report was dated June 30, but not released until Thursday.

Terri Schiavo died March 31 from dehydration after her feeding tube was disconnected despite efforts by Bush, her parents and some state national lawmakers to keep her alive.

Michael Schiavo had fought to have the tube disconnected, saying his wife wouldn't have wanted to remain in such a state.

Washington, D.C.

Board urges intensified search for missing pilot

A new Navy review of efforts to determine the fate of missing pilot Capt. Michael Scott Speicher is recommending that the U.S. government undertake an intensified search in Iraq and that his status be affirmed as "missing-captured," Sen. Bill Nelson wrote in a letter to the Navy's top civilian.

"I urge you to accept the board's recommendation regarding Capt. Speicher's status. I also encourage you to work to implement the board's recommendation regarding an intensified search effort," the Florida Democrat wrote to Navy Secretary Gordon England, who also is the acting deputy defense secretary.

Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., was shot down over central Iraq in an F/A-18 on Jan. 17, 1991, opening night of the Gulf War. Some aircraft wreckage was later found but his remains were never recovered.

Speicher's family lived in the Kansas City area and moved to Florida when he was a teenager.

The board of inquiry met and reached its conclusions last week, the officials said.

Washington, D.C.

Giuliani: Bombings stir 9-11 emotions

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was yards away from one of the deadly explosions that struck London on Thursday, said the attacks were an eerie reminder of Sept. 11, 2001.

Giuliani said he was in a hotel near Liverpool Street Station when a bomb exploded on a train in a tunnel nearby.

"It was very strange being here today and being a block or half a block away when the bomb went off," Giuliani told the Associated Press in a telephone interview later Thursday.

"We were in a hotel having breakfast when it happened and we were told originally that it was either an accident or a device, and then obviously when the second attack happened, we knew," said Giuliani.

The former mayor noted the time of day was almost identical to the 2001 attacks, beginning about ten minutes before 9 a.m. and ending before 10 a.m.

"I told the prime minister and the head of the fire department that it's the same perplexing thought and feeling, which is why do these innocent people have to be killed? The people who were killed were people who were on their way to work in virtually the same time frame as the attacks on Sept. 11," he said.

Washington, D.C.

Britain's support of U.S. seen as motive

Within hours of Thursday's attacks on rail and bus commuters in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to "confront and defeat" those responsible.

It was scarcely a week ago that President Bush, defending his Iraq policies in a speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., declared that Iraq was but "the latest battlefield" in the global war on terror. "We must defeat them abroad," he added, "before they attack us at home."

London was a reminder that the battlefront isn't confined to Iraq.

Britain is the most important U.S. ally. Its 8,500 troops currently serving in southern Iraq represent the only significant contingent of non-U.S. military forces in the country; it has another 1,000 troops serving in Afghanistan.

Blair won a third term this spring, although with a diminished majority for his Labor Party. He faces significant opposition to his pro-U.S. policies on Iraq, however, both within the party and with the public.

That the attacks were connected to the war in Iraq seems probable.

A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe" took responsibility for the attack, according to news reports, and said that the United Kingdom had been targeted for an explicit reason - the role of its soldiers in alleged "massacres" in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Muslims fear backlash

Across the British capital Thursday, Muslims reacted with apprehension to news of the deadly attacks on the city's transit system. They recalled that some mosques were closed and hundreds of British Muslims were arrested in a security crackdown after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Now, if reports are confirmed that al-Qaida or another Islamic militant group carried out Thursday's bombings, many are afraid that fellow Londoners could displace their fears and anger onto the entire Muslim community.

And the Muslim Council of Britain made a public appeal to the nation's 2 million Muslims, who worship at 800 mosques, to cooperate with investigators and pray for the victims and survivors of the bombings.

Sitting alone in a private women's prayer room at the mosque, Fatima - she gave only her first name - said she fears the city she had called home for 12 years could soon reject her.

"You see me sitting here and I'm not looking to make problems," Fatima said, adjusting the black hijab to cover her face and diverting her eyes to the floor as she spoke. "We keep running and hiding. Running and dashing. When someone does something stupid, (Muslims) suffer for it."


Londoners take pride in stoic 'Blitz spirit'

The priority in the morning was getting in touch with loved ones - it seemed everyone had a cell phone in his hand. By evening, maps replaced phones as thousands of Londoners tried to navigate routes home made unfamiliar by police roadblocks and shuttered subway stations.

Amid the twisted metal and mangled bodies left by Thursday's devastating bomb attacks, Londoners took pride in their tradition of fortitude and quiet defiance.

"As Brits, we'll carry on - it doesn't scare us at all," said 37-year-old tour guide Michael Cahill. "Look, loads of people are walking down the streets. It's Great Britain - not called 'Great' for nothing."

The worst attack on London since World War II brought out a strength and esprit de corps that recalled Britain under the blitz of German bombers.

As Wednesday's jubilation at winning the 2012 Olympics gave way to the terrible shock of Thursday's attacks, Prime Minister Tony Blair made a televised appeal for unity and praised the "stoicism and resolve of the British people."

Washington, D.C.

U.S. terror alert raised for mass transit

The United States put its subways, buses and commuter trains on high alert after the rush-hour London bombings, moving to code orange for mass transit amid concern about a possible "copycat attack" by terrorists.

From New York to San Francisco, cities tightened security for local rail and bus lines that carry tens of millions of Americans daily. Stepped-up safeguards included bomb-sniffing dogs, increased video surveillance and more police at train and bus stations.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that authorities had no evidence of a specific, credible threat against the United States.

However, he said, "we feel that, at least in the short term, we should raise the level here because, obviously, we're concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack."


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