Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi says he is tired of being blamed for misleading the US about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and points the finger instead at the CIA in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes. \nChalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress exile group and has close ties to the George W. Bush administration, says the CIA should have done a better job analyzing information received from defectors he steered their way. \n"This is a ridiculous situation," says Chalabi, who still maintains that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. \nChalabi said the CIA knew defectors can be biased and that even the press was saying "defectors have an ax to grind, don't believe them." \n"Now you're telling me that despite all this public evidence, the United States government took our word without checking out the people?" Chalabi said incredulously. \n"Intelligence people who are supposed to do a better job for their country and their government did not do such a good job." \nChalabi, who was born into a prominent Iraqi family but spent 45 years outside Iraq before returning in April, denies coaching defectors, something the CIA believe he's done for years, according to a former CIA analyst interviewed on the show. \nThe analyst, Ken Pollack, who now works for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and for CNN, said the Bush administration used the information to label Iraq an imminent threat. \nPollack said they were looking "to simply confirm a preconceived notion of an extremely threatening Iraq ... on the cusp of acquiring the most advanced ... dangerous weapons." \nPollack blames senior US officials, not Chalabi. \n"This is one of those ... `fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,'" said Pollack. "Chalabi has a track record. We knew this guy wasn't telling us the truth." \nA defiant Chalabi said he was eager to further defend himself. \n"I want to be asked to testify in the United States Senate in the Intelligence Committee. I want to do this in an open session," he says.
THREAT OF SANCTIONS: China is not a democracy, but its government can still be pressured, especially by business and financial interests, US Senator Pat Toomey said US senators on Tuesday vowed to move quickly on a bill that threatens sanctions on Chinese officials seen as undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and voiced hope the measures would dissuade Beijing. The proposal, which would punish individuals who curb Hong Kong’s freedoms, came after Beijing last week put forward a controversial bill that would ban “treason” and other perceived offenses in the territory, which was rocked last year by major pro-democracy protests. US Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican coleading the bill with a Democrat, said that while China is not a democracy, its leadership is “certainly subject to political pressure.” “When business interests
DANGER ZONE? Trump threatened to move the Republican National Convention if mass gatherings are not allowed in North Carolina, where new cases hit a daily high US President Donald Trump on Monday honored the US’ war dead in back-to-back Memorial Day appearances colored by an epic struggle off the battlefield, against the novel coronavirus. Eager to demonstrate national revival from the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump doubled up on his public schedule while threatening to pull the US Republican National Convention out of Charlotte in August unless North Carolina’s Democratic governor gives a quick green light to the party’s plans to assemble en masse. The US death toll from the pandemic approached 100,000. North Carolina two days earlier reported its largest daily increase yet in COVID-19 cases. Trump first honored the
COSTA RICA Same-sex unions legalized The nation became the latest to legalize same-sex marriage early yesterday when a ruling from the Supreme Court went into effect, ending its ban. Couples scheduled ceremonies — mostly private due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some that would be broadcast — to celebrate their unions before judges and notaries after the ban was lifted at midnight. In August 2018, the court said that the nation’s ban was unconstitutional and gave the Legislative Assembly 18 months to correct it or it would happen automatically. The legislature did not act, so at midnight the law banning same-sex marriage
‘THE RIGHT CALL’: Being black in the US should not be a death sentence, the mayor of Minneapolis said, adding that George Floyd’s death was not justified and race was a factor Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday over the death of an unarmed black man seen in a video lying face down in the street, gasping for air and groaning: “I can’t breathe,” while a white officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Hours after the officers’ dismissals were announced, thousands of protesters filled the streets near the scene of Monday evening’s deadly incident in a boisterous, but peaceful rally. Many in the crowd wore facial coverings to protect against spread of COVID-19. However, the gathering took an unruly turn around dusk as police in riot gear fired tear gas