Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea Test Fires Long Range Missile, CIA Closes 'Bin Laden' Unit & Pentagon Challenges Bush Plans for Bombing Iran in Today's Details

-North Korea launched at least three missiles early Wednesday -- one of them the long-range Taepodong-2 missile, according to senior State Department sources. One source said it appeared the Taepodong-2 test failed in midair. DETAILS

-With Democrats plotting to make the minimum wage a major issue in this fall's congressional races, House Republican leaders are conceding that they may have to yield to pressure for an increase to the federal standard, which has been frozen for nearly a decade. DETAILS

-Up to six pieces of debris that could be foam insulation fell off Discovery's troublesome external fuel tank minutes after liftoff Tuesday, a top NASA official said.Officials cautioned, however, that it was too soon to know whether the debris struck Discovery and that the pieces came off later than would normally endanger the shuttle. DETAILS

-The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said. The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice "dead or alive." DETAILS

-The U.S. Strategic Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the President’s direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran. Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States. DETAILS

-The justice minister demanded Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council ensure that a group of U.S. troops are punished in the alleged rape and murder of a young Iraqi and the killing of her family, calling the attack "monstrous and inhuman." Two female legislators also called for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be summoned to parliament to give assurances that justice would be done. Meanwhile, gunmen in camouflage uniforms kidnapped Deputy Electricity Minister Raed al-Hares, along with 11 of his bodyguards in eastern Baghdad, but he was released after several hours, officials said. (More proof that things are improving in Iraq - the insurgency is in its last throes and the media just doesn't report the good news!) DETAILS

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