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January 06, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-06

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2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday January 6, 2005


Gonzales to use no-torture policy NEWS IN BRIEF

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General nomi-
nee Alberto Gonzales plans to promise to abide by
the government's no-torture policies and international
treaties if he is confirmed by the Senate, The Associ-
ated Press learned yesterday.
Gonzales, who had a hand in much of the White
House's post- Sept. 11 terrorism policies as President
Bush's top lawyer, faces condemnation from Democrats
at a hearing today over his January 2002 memo arguing
that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete" the Geneva
Convention's strict prohibitions against torture.
A month later, Bush signed an order declaring he
has the authority to circumvent the Geneva accords
and reserving the right to do so "in this or future con-
flicts." The order also says the Geneva treaty's treat-
ment of prisoners of war do not apply to al-Qaida or
"unlawful combatants" from the Taliban.
Gonzales's critics say that decision and Gonzales's

"I pledge that if I am confirmed as attorney general, I will abide
by those commiments."
- Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General nominee

memo justifying it led to the torture scandal at Iraq's
Abu Ghraib prison and prisoner abuses in Afghani-
stan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In a prepared statement obtained by The Associated
Press, Gonzales plans to promise the Senate Judiciary
Committee to abide by all of the United States's treaty
obligations if he is confirmed as the first Hispanic U.S.
attorney general.
Bush already has made clear that the government
will defend Americans from terrorists "in a manner

consistent with our nation's values and applicable
law, including our treaty obligations," Gonzales
says in his prepared testimony. "I pledge that, if I
am confirmed as attorney general, I will abide by
those commitments."
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary,
said Bush firmly backs Gonzales. "Judge Gonzales is
a very trusted adviser to the president (who is) doing
an outstanding job," McClellan told reporters traveling
with the president aboard Air Force One.

Reserves feel

un-fit foi
Reserve, whose part-time soldiers serve
in combat and support roles in Iraq and
Afghanistan, is so hampered by mis-
guided Army policies and practices that
it is "rapidly degenerating into a 'bro-
ken' force," the Reserve's most senior
general says.
Lt. Gen. James Helmly, chief of the
Army Reserve, wrote in an internal
memorandum to the Army's top uni-
formed officer that the Reserve has
reached the point of being unable to ful-
fill its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan
and to regenerate its forces for future
The Army Reserve has about 200,000
soldiers, nearly 52,000 of them on active
duty for the war on terrorism, mainly
in Iraq. They provide combat support,
medical care, transportation, legal ser-
vices and other support. About 50 have
died so far in the Iraq war.
Helmly's Dec. 20 memo is addressed
to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army
chief of staff, and was first reported in
yesterday's editions of the Baltimore
Sun, whose website has a link to the
eight-page document. Two officials who
saw the original memo confirmed its
contents to The Associated Press.
"The purpose of this memorandum
is to inform you of the Army Reserve's
inability under current policies, proce-
dures and practices ... to meet mission
requirements associated with Operation_
Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,"
Helmly wrote, using the military's names
for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

r duty
"The Army Reserve is additionally
in grave danger of being unable to meet
other operational requirements," includ-
ing those in classified contingency plans
for other potential wars or national emer-
gencies, "and is rapidly degenerating into
a 'broken' force," Helmly wrote.
The Army Reserve's ability to regener-
ate its recently deployed forces is "erod-
ing daily," he added, in part because
Reserve troops who finish tours in Iraq
and Afghanistan are required to leave
substantial amounts of their equipment
for other forces and for contractors.
Helmly also referred to a practice, not
previously disclosed, of requiring each
Reserve soldier who receives a mobi-
lization order with less than 30 days
notice to sign a "volunteer statement."
From his brief description of the prac-
tice it appears that this is done to reduce
the number of reported cases of short-
notice, involuntary mobilizations.
He also criticized the practice of offer-
ing Reserve soldiers an extra $1,000 a
month if they volunteer to be mobilized
a second time. This confuses "volun-
teers" with "mercenaries," he said.
Helmly's blunt description of these
problems is the sort of internal attack
that rarely becomes public, although
some private defense analysts and
members of Congress have openly ques-
tioned whether the strains on the Army
caused by the Iraq war would eventually
threaten the all-volunteer force.
Sen. Jack Reed, (D-R.I.), said yester-
day he was disturbed by the concerns
raised in Helmly's memo.

VIENNA, Austria
Iran opens alleged testing site to U.N.
Iran has agreed to give U.N. inspectors access to a huge military complex that
the United States alleges is linked to a secret nuclear weapons program, the head
of the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told The Associated Press he
expected his experts to visit the Parchin site "within days or weeks."
The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has been pressing Tehran for months to be
allowed to inspect the Parchin military site, used by the Iranians to research, devel-
op and produce ammunition, missiles and high explosives.
In leaks to media last year, U.S. intelligence officials said a specially secured site
on the Parchin complex, 20 miles southeast of Tehran, may be used in research on
nuclear arms, specifically in making high-explosive components for use in atomic
Suicide and car bombs kill25 in Iraq
A suicide attacker blew up an explosives-laden car yesterday outside a police acad-
emy south of Baghdad during a graduation ceremony, killing 20 people. A second car*
bomber killed five Iraqi policemen - bringing the death toll to at least 90so far this
week in surging violence aimed at derailing this month's elections.
Despite the mounting attacks and death toll, Iraq's interim leader again insisted the
ballot would go ahead as planned.
The bloodshed raised the death toll from insurgent attacks to more than 90 in the
last four days. American and Iraqi leaders insist the vote would go forward as sched-
uled despite the violence aimed against holding the ballot.
"We will not allow the terrorists to stop the political process in Iraq," Iraqi Interim
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite leader, said yesterday. "The elections
process is the basis for the deepening of the national unity in Iraq."
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
Guantanamo abuse investigation begins
The U.S. military command that runs the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantana-
mo Bay, Cuba, has opened an investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse outlined
in recently released FBI documents, officials said yesterday.
But human rights groups yesterday called for an independent investigation into
abuse at Guantanamo where 550 detainees from nearly 40 countries are accused of
links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or al-Qaida terror network.
"Although more transparency is always welcome we're way past the
point where internal inquiries can be considered sufficient," said Alistair
Hodgett, a spokesman for London-based Amnesty International.
Documents published last month show that FBI agents sent to Guantanamo warned
the government about abuse and mistreatment when the first prisoners arrived in 2002,
more than a year before-a scandal over mistreatment at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Scanmers try to gain from tsunami donations
With private donations pouring into charities, law enforcement officials say
scam artists claiming to represent tsunami relief organizations are using e-mails
and telephone calls to attempt to steal donations and swipe donors' identities.
Several states and consumer watchdog agencies have issued warnings
in recent days, noting that an outpouring of generosity for victims of the
Indian Ocean tsunami has opened the door for con artists who want to prey
upon U.S. philanthropy.
"We don't want someone who is charitable and is supportive of the victims
over there to become a victim of identity theft," said Bob Breeden, who heads the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement's computer crimes center.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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President Bush said he is pushing Congress to pass medical malpractice
legislation that will lower healthcare costs. Opponents say his plan will
only benefit drug companies and HMOs.
Bush pushes

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Presi-
dent Bush yesterday opened a new
drive for caps on medical malpractice
awards, contending the limits would
lower health care costs. Opponents said
such ceilings would merely shield doc-
tors and others who provide poor health
"I believe the voters made their posi-
tion clear on Election Day on medical
liability reform," Bush said, citing his
re-election as evidence of support for a
proposal that has passed the House but
failed in the Senate.


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The renewed battle revived a partisan
debate about whether Bush's victory in
November gave him a second - term
mandate to push his big - ticket items
through Congress.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
criticized Bush's medical malpractice
proposal as well as the president's claim
of having new political capital.
"Barely two months after promis-
ing to unify and heal the country after
a bitter election, the president's again
pushing for legislation that will further
divide it," Kennedy said.
"The president's medical malpractice
plan is nothing but a shameful shield for
drug companies and HMOs who hurt peo-
ple through negligence,"Kennedy said.
Bush made his case in Madison Coun-
ty, across the Mississippi River from St.
Louis. The county has been called the
"judicial hellhole" of the nation by the
American Tort Reform Association last
year because of a reputation for huge
awards won by plaintiffs.
Lawyers in the area say the legal situ-
ation has been exaggerated and that large
malpractice awards have been scarce.
"The United States Congress
needs to pass
real medical "The
liability reform
this year,"Bush United
said, slapping
his lectern with States
an open palm
to emphasize Congress
his point. needs to
Behind him,
the White Housep
advance team . .a
arrayed audi- medicial
ence members
in white medi- liability
cal coats. Bush
warned of a cri- reform
sis, but said it his
could be averted this year.
if the Republi-
can-controlled - President Bush
Congress adopts
his plan.
"This liability system, I'm telling you,
is out of control," Bush said. While his
proposal has stalled in Congress, Repub-
licans expanded their majorities in both
houses in the November elections.
The president wants to place a limit
of $250,000 on noneconomic damages,
or the pain and suffering portions of
malpractice awards. Caps on damage
awards of varying types have been put
in place in 27 states; Bush and his crit-
ics disagree on their impact.
Bush would impose no limits on
economic losses suffered at the hands
of bad doctors.
Bush wants to limit punitive damages
to "egregious cases where they are jus-
tified" and cap damages to "reasonable
amounts," according to White House
documents that did not elaborate.
He would allow malpractice awards
to be paid out over time, instead of in

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