January 30, 2008 in Nation/World

In brief: Mukasey won’t take stand on waterboarding

The Spokesman-Review

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Tuesday he will refuse to publicly say whether the interrogation tactic known as waterboarding is illegal, digging in against critics who want the Bush administration to define it as torture.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Mukasey said he has finished a review of Justice Department memos about the CIA’s current methods of interrogating terrorism suspects and finds them to be lawful. He said waterboarding currently is not used by the spy agency.

“If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject,” Mukasey wrote in his three-page letter to Leahy, D-Vt. “But, with respect, I believe it is not an easy question. There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.”

Nairobi, Kenya

Lawmaker shot to death

Post-election tribal violence claimed its first political victim Tuesday – a young opposition lawmaker – as Sen. Barack Obama and former United Nations leader Kofi Annan urged Kenyans to find a peaceful solution.

Obama, D-Ill., whose late father was Kenyan, spoke on a popular FM radio station and urged President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to negotiate without conditions.

More than 800 people have died in the violence in recent weeks after Kibaki claimed victory in an election that neutral observers said was rigged. Mugabe Were, a freshman member of parliament, was shot Tuesday as he arrived at his home in a middle-class Nairobi suburb shortly after midnight.


Study says Afghanistan at risk

Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the site of a “forgotten war” because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency, according to an independent study.

The assessment, co-chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones and former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, serves as a warning to the Bush administration at a time military and congressional officials are debating how best to juggle stretched war resources.

“Afghanistan stands at a crossroads,” concludes the study, an advance copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press.

A major issue has been trying to win the war with “too few military forces and insufficient economic aid,” the study adds.

Among the group’s nearly three dozen recommendations: increase NATO force levels and military equipment sent to Afghanistan.

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