Database of DNA Nears Passage

Despite last-minute objections from Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, legislation to expand collection of DNA samples from suspects charged with violent crimes moved a step closer to final passage yesterday, as a House committee made only minor changes to the version of the bill that passed the Senate last week.

The Judiciary Committee voted 18-3 to approve the DNA bill, a top crime-fighting priority of Gov. Martin O'Malley, after defeating a series of amendments that would have delayed or limited the initiative. Proponents say an expanded DNA database would help solve crimes.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who had protested the bill loudly when a version of it first reached the House floor, appeared satisfied with the measure, as changes they had negotiated to increase protections for defendants remained largely untouched.

Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, was the only caucus member on the committee to vote against it, joining two Republican lawmakers.

The panel's chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., brushed aside concerns raised about the bill by Jessamy's office, which sent one of its veteran prosecutors to Annapolis yesterday to meet with committee members before they voted on the legislation.

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2001 Anthrax Attack Linked To Army Bioweapons Lab in Maryland

The FBI has narrowed its focus to "about four" suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.

Among the pool of suspects are three scientists — a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax scientist and a microbiologist — linked to the research facility, known as USAMRIID.

The FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists in an effort to match them to the writer of anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to two U.S. senators and at least two news outlets in the fall of 2001, a law enforcement source confirmed.

The anthrax attacks began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, further alarming a nation already reeling from the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others were infected by the deadly spores in the fall of 2001.

A leading theory is that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick and then sealed inside the letters. A law enforcement source said the FBI is essentially engaged in a process of elimination.

Much of the early public focus fell on a Fort Detrick scientist named Steven Hatfill, who is suing federal authorities for identifying him as a person of interest. Now the FBI is focusing on other scientists at the facility.

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Politicians Race to Avoid All-Out War Between Feuding Shiite Factions

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki backed off its ultimatum to the Mahdi Army militia of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday, giving the group's members 10 more days to lay down their weapons in return for amnesty and financial rewards.

The move comes as US forces began launching airstrikes in both Baghdad and the southern oil port of Basra, joining Iraqi forces in their recent effort to cripple Mr. Sadr's militia, which the Pentagon accuses of links to Iran.

The softening of Mr. Maliki's position comes after what started on Tuesday as an operation limited to Basra but quickly escalated into a confrontation with Mr. Sadr's powerful and well-armed militia in Baghdad and most of the predominantly Shiite southern cities. Iraq's Parliament held an emergency session Friday and set up a committee to mediate an end to the deadly clashes that now risk drawing US forces to the government's side in an all-out war that would shatter some of the security gains achieved in recent months.

Maliki's concession also follows a late night meeting on Thursday in Baghdad by Shiite politicians trying to broker a solution to the crisis. Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi and former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met members of Parliament from Sadr's political wing, who have labeled Maliki the "new dictator" and call for his resignation. Notably absent from this meeting were senior politicians from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) party and its affiliates, which are strongly backing the Maliki-led offensive against its archrival Sadr's armed wing.

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Pulitzer Prize Winner Hersh: 'U.S. In Real Trouble in Iraq'

When the American government says the US is winning in Iraq and is not torturing prisoners, they are just words, Hersh told his audience of journalism students in Regina, Canada. "We are in real trouble [in Iraq]."

Pointing to the changes reporting has undergone since the Vietnam War, the award-winning journalist explained that reporters are now imbedded with troops who cloud their judgment and therefore do not touch the same kind of issues.

"It has led to a lot of lousy reporting," continued Hersh. "I don't think it is bad for a journalist to come back (from covering a war) and say it s***s."

Hersh said media outlets spread 'fake' news and suggested his audience resort to translations of local media sources when learning about issues concerning the Middle East.

Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Myron Hersh first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War.



Call For New 9/11 Investigation Reaches Crescendo

By Paul J. Watson / Prison Planet

Calls for a new 9/11 inquiry are reaching a crescendo, with well-respected authorities and celebrities alike adding their voices to the cause, as the official 9/11 story crumbles under the weight of revelations of White House ties to the 9/11 Commission, and other cover-ups on behalf of authorities staffed with investigating the attacks.

The corporate media's insistence on ignoring hundreds of professional experts who are calling for a new 9/11 investigation has spurred many celebrities to use their public platforms to speak out, knowing that the press will at least have to address the issue.

The latest to do so is top comedian Margaret Cho, who told the Alex Jones Show yesterday that the public were going to become very angry when it was fully disclosed that the attacks were a conspiracy, concurring with fellow comedian George Carlin who also questioned the official story last year.

The path was trailblazed by Charlie Sheen in March 2006 when he spoke of his doubts about the official story and questioned the collapse of WTC Building 7. Sheen was endlessly smeared for weeks after but he prompted a national debate about 9/11 and the 9/11 Truth Movement enjoyed what many consider to be its most productive year.

In September 2006, former Governor, actor and wrestling star Jesse Ventura questioned 9/11 during an on-camera interview with Alex Jones and also cited Operation Northwoods and the Gulf of Tonkin as examples of how the government has planned and carried out staged war provocations in the past.

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GMO & Morgellons Disease: GM Plants Causing a New Human Disease?

By Barbara H. Peterson / Global Research

Since the Clinton administration made biotechnology "a strategic priority for U.S. government" (1) , giant transnational agri-business concerns have aggressively taken over the global food chain by flooding it with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) without regard for the consequences to the earth or its inhabitants. This takeover not only has the potential for global economic devastation, but threatens the earth’s population with far-reaching health concerns as well. One health concern that seems to coincide with the GMO revolution is Morgellons disease. What if the advent of Morgellons disease has something to do with the ingestion of GMO foods?

Little information has been revealed concerning the long-term health effects of GMO crops on humans or animals, and even less information can be had regarding research correlating Morgellons with GMO foods. This is suspicious right off the bat, because it would seem that there would be a natural curiosity regarding a link between Genetically Modified Organisms that people ingest regularly and inorganic fibers that protrude from a person’s skin. This would be right up a geneticist’s alley, and quite worthy of intensive research. So, why aren’t there a ton of published studies? Why is it so difficult finding anything related to this? Could it be that companies such as Monsanto have enough clout to effectively squash these stories?

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Tapes’ Destruction Hovers Over Detainee Cases

When officers from the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting harsh interrogations in 2005, they may have believed they were freeing the government and themselves from potentially serious legal trouble.

But nearly four months after the disclosure that the tapes were destroyed, the list of legal entanglements for the C.I.A., the Defense Department and other agencies is only growing longer. In addition to criminal and Congressional investigations of the tapes’ destruction, the government is fighting off challenges in several major terrorism cases and a raft of prisoners’ legal claims that it may have destroyed evidence.

“They thought they were saving themselves from legal scrutiny, as well as possible danger from Al Qaeda if the tapes became public,” said Frederick P. Hitz, a former C.I.A. officer and the agency’s inspector general from 1990 to 1998, speaking of agency officials who favored eliminating the tapes. “Unknowingly, perhaps, they may have created even more problems for themselves.”

In a suit brought by Hani Abdullah, a Yemeni prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal judge has raised the possibility that, by destroying the tapes, the C.I.A. violated a court order to preserve all evidence relevant to the prisoner. In at least 12 other lawsuits, lawyers for prisoners at Guantánamo and elsewhere have filed legal challenges citing the C.I.A. tapes’ destruction, said David H. Remes, a Washington lawyer representing 16 prisoners.

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MoD Admits Troops Abused Iraqi Prisoners

By Luke Baker / Reuters

The Ministry of Defense will admit on Friday that British troops tortured and breached the human rights of nine Iraqi men they detained in southern Iraq in 2003, opening the way to potentially large compensation claims.

The decision follows years of legal wrangling in which the family of Baha Musa, an Iraqi hotel worker who was beaten and died in British custody, and eight other Iraqis who survived the beatings, have sought justice.

The ministry, which will make the admission in the High Court, said on Thursday it was doing so to try to smooth the process of paying compensation to Musa's family and the eight other Iraqis and end lengthy court proceedings.

The case was one of the British military's darkest episodes in Iraq. All nine detainees suffered 36 hours of violent interrogation before Musa died with 93 injuries to his body, including a broken nose and ribs.

"I deeply regret the actions of a very small number of troops and I offer my sincere apologies and sympathy to the family of Baha Musa and the eight others," armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth said in a statement issued along with the ministry's admission of its breach of human rights.

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Husband & Wife Deployed To Iraq Leaving 1-Year-Old For Year

A U.S. Army married couple in Florida being deployed together to serve their country will have to be away from their 1-year-old son for a year. Yvette and William Sims will soon be heading to Iraq as members of the Army Reserve's 345th combat-support hospital. While that means they'll be together overseas, it also means the couple only has a few more play dates with their 1-year-old son, Connor.

"It's going to be heartbreaking to leave him," Yvette Sims said. "We're going over there, of course, to support the mission over there and to take care of soldiers."

The Sims have been deployed in the past, but have never gone together. The Sims said Connor will celebrate his second birthday with other family members, but his greatest present won't come until this time next year when his parents return home just in time for his third birthday. "I'm just hoping that he's proud of us and what we've done," Sims said.




Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice

In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush and his top advisors declared that the struggle against terrorism would be nothing less than a war–a new kind of war that would require new tactics, new tools, and a new mind-set. Bush’s Law is the unprecedented account of how the Bush administration employed its “war on terror” to mask the most radical remaking of American justice in generations.

On orders from the highest levels of the administration, counterterrorism officials at the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA were asked to play roles they had never played before. But with that unprecedented power, administration officials butted up against–or disregarded altogether–the legal restrictions meant to safeguard Americans’ rights, as they gave legal sanction to covert programs and secret interrogation tactics, a swept up thousands of suspects in the drift net.

Eric Lichtblau, who has covered the Justice Department and national security issues for the duration of the Bush administration, details not only the development of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program–initiated by the vice president’s office in the weeks after 9/11–but also the intense pressure that the White House brought to bear on The New York Times to thwart his story on the program.

Bush’s Law is an investigative report on the hidden internal struggles over secret programs and policies that tore at the constitutional fabric of the country and, ultimately, brought down an attorney general.

Eric Lichtblau received the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, for his stories on the NSA's wiretapping program. He has worked in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, covering the Justice Department, since 2002. From 1999 to 2002 he covered the Justice Department for the Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.