Baghdad

Soldier sentenced for Abu Ghraib scandal

The highest-ranking U.S. soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib
prison case was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison, the
severest punishment so far in the scandal that broke in April with
the publication of photos and video showing Americans humiliating
and abusing naked Iraqis.

Staff Sgt. Ivan “Chip” Frederick’s civilian
attorney, Gary Myers, called the sentence “excessive”
and argued that the military command was at fault for failing to
train his client — a veteran military policeman and a
corrections officer in civilian life — and for failing to
address the horrid conditions at the prison on the western
outskirts of Baghdad.

The abuses occurred at a time when American intelligence
officers were under strong pressure to gather as much information
as possible on the burgeoning insurgency, which threatens the
entire U.S. mission in Iraq. Since then, the insurgency has spread
throughout Sunni Muslim areas of the country, engulfing regions
which were relatively safe for Americans and other Westerners only
a few months ago.

 

Washington

Polls secured against terrorism threats

Election officials are beefing up security and taking other
precautions at many of the nation’s 200,000 polling places
amid continuing concern that al-Qaida terrorists are intent on
disrupting the U.S. political process.

Some officials are increasing police patrols and assigning
plainclothes officers to monitor voting sites on Election Day.
Others are taking steps to secure ballot boxes, set up emergency
communications systems and locate backup polling places in the
event of an attack. “We have to prepare for the worst
situation,” said Brenda Fisher, elections director for Anne
Arundel County in Maryland.

FBI and Homeland Security Department officials stress that a
steady stream of intelligence indicating the threat of an
election-year threat is general in nature, with no specific
indications that terrorists might strike polling places. But
elections officials say they can’t discount the possibility
that al-Qaida might be attracted to long lines of voters to make a
violent statement against democracy.

 

Washington

Bush signs bill on youth suicide prevention

President Bush yesterday signed into law a bill authorizing $82
million in grants aimed at preventing suicide among young
people.

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is named for the son of
Oregon Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, who championed the legislation
as a tribute to his 21-year-old son, who committed suicide last
year.

“Sharon and I are deeply grateful for the support
we’ve received over the past year,” Gordon Smith said.
“Passing this bill was very personal to us because we wanted
some good to come of Garrett’s tragedy.”

The law authorizes $82 million over three years to provide
grants to states, Indian tribes, colleges and universities to
develop youth suicide prevention and intervention programs. It
emphasizes screening programs that identify mental illness in
children as young as sixth-graders, and provides referrals for
community-based treatment and training for child care
professionals.

 

Beijing

Times employee accused of spying

A Chinese researcher for The New York Times has been arrested on
suspicion of providing state secrets to foreigners, but authorities
haven’t explained what he is accused of doing, his defense
lawyer said yesterday.

Prosecutors issued a formal arrest order on Wednesday for Zhao
Yan, who was already in detention since Sept. 17, said lawyer Mo
Shaoping. Mo said that technically it isn’t a decision to
prosecute him. But once a suspect is formally arrested in China, it
is almost unheard of for the case not to go to trial.

A friend said earlier that Zhao was believed to be under
investigation as the possible source of a Sept. 7 report by the
Times about the planned retirement of former President Jiang Zemin
from his post as head of China’s military.

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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