Iraq invasion an 'enormous mistake'
The invasion of Iraq was an "enormous mistake" that is costing untold lives, strengthening al-Qaida and breeding a new generation of terrorists, former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said Saturday.
Clarke, a counterterrorism adviser to the past three presidents, wrote the book "Against All Enemies," which strongly criticizes the Bush administration for making Iraq a top priority and for underestimating warnings about al-Qaida before the September 11 attacks.
Clarke said the United States will lose the war on terrorism if it loses the battle of ideas against extremists in the Middle East.
The United States' ideological credibility has been undermined by revelations of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison and the release of documents that showed US government attorneys conducted a legal analysis of what constituted torture, Clarke said.
Clarke took issue with some elements of filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which depicts how the Bush administration allowed Saudi nationals and members of Osama bin Laden's family to leave the United States days after the September 11 attacks.
Clarke said he thought the Saudi Government was "perfectly justified" in wanting its citizens to leave the United States out of fears of "vigilantism" by Americans.
The Saudis were not allowed to leave until the FBI cleared them of posing any danger and having knowledge of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, Clarke said.
Making the incident a big part of the movie was a mistake, said Clarke, who added that he agrees with many things Moore stands for.
Seeking allies in Europe
Criticized for his go-it-alone approach in Iraq, Bush is trying to build a new consensus among allies wary of a US leader whose policies are widely unpopular in Europe.
The next five days are all about summitry the US-European Union summit this weekend in Ireland and the NATO summit in Turkey next week. Allied leaders are expressing a new willingness to help in Iraq, although not at the levels once anticipated.
Still, they risk their own political capital back home if they appear too cozy with Bush.
"America has never been at a lower point in the minds of citizens around the world," says Thomas Mann, a political analyst at Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank. "Our relations with other countries, including natural allies, have seldom been as strained. To be associated with President Bush and current American policy is a political liability around the world right now."
Police and troops shut down roads and erected barbed-wire barricades Friday to deter protesters from interrupting the summit between Bush and European Union leaders. Hours before Bush was to arrive in western Ireland, some 4,000 police and 2,000 soldiers more than one-third of the entire security forces of the Irish Republic took up positions around Shannon Airport and Dromoland Castle, a luxury hotel where the summit will be held.
"Sadly, there's no great welcome for President Bush," said the Rev. Tom Ryan, a Catholic priest in the town of Shannon. "The vast majority of people would not agree with the policies of the American Government or President Bush."
Protests are expected in several European cities this weekend. Left-wing activists planned protests in Dublin on Friday night and the summit venue Saturday. The protesters want Ireland to stop allowing US military planes to land at Shannon airport, a strategic refuelling point en route to Iraq. Protests are expected in several European cities this weekend.
Topics at both summits will range from Afghanistan to counterterrorism, from trade to curbing the spread of nuclear weapons. But Iraq will be at the forefront.
Bombs, protests rattle Turkey
Turkish police on Saturday detained suspected militants and clashed with protesters amid a spate of small bomb blasts and heightened security ahead of Bush's visit.
A bomb suspended from an Istanbul overpass exploded on Saturday as police secured the area, state-run Anatolian news agency reported. A banner was also suspended from the overpass and read "Murderer NATO."
No one was injured in the blast, the latest in a series of explosions in Turkey ahead of a NATO summit being held in the city yesterday and today.
Bush is one of more than 40 world leaders attending the summit. He arrived in the capital Ankara on Saturday for talks with Turkish leaders yesterday before flying to Istanbul for the summit.
Police in Konya, a conservative city in central Turkey, detained 10 people on Saturday suspected of ties with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. They also seized a small number of guns, a hand grenade and training tapes in the operation.
A Turkish cell with links to al- Qaida has claimed responsibility for four suicide bomb attacks on Jewish and British targets in Istanbul in November that killed more than 60 people and wounded hundreds more.
Turkish police have arrested dozens of suspected Islamist militants in recent days.
Security concerns were also fanned by a report on Saturday of a bomb blast in a hotel in the southern resort of Alanya. But officials subsequently said the explosion was due to a gas explosion which caused a wall to collapse and kill one woman.
A bomb blast on an Istanbul bus killed four people, including the bomber, and wounded 21 others on Thursday in an attack blamed on left-wing radicals.
Islamic militants and Kurdish separatists have also carried out attacks in Turkey.
Thousands protest Bush's visit
Thousands of left-wing activists marched through the heart of the Irish capital Friday to protest the imminent arrival of Bush for a brief summit with European Union chiefs.
Rallying under the "Stop Bush Campaign" banner, the crowd of more than 5,000 waved placards and banners denouncing Bush as a warmonger and calling on facilities for American military flights to be withdrawn from Shannon Airport, a strategic refuelling point used by thousands of US troops each month.
The protesters planned to march from the north of the capital to the south-side office of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose decision to keep Shannon available for Iraq-bound forces has angered many in this officially neutral nation.
In an interview with state broadcaster RTE, Ahern said Ireland's open airport policy didn't amount to support for the US war effort. However, he stressed that those opposed to the US-led occupation of Iraq should recognize that times were changing and European Union co-operation with Bush over Iraq was essential.
Insecurity dominates Iraqi life
The deep "booms" come most mornings now. The explosions, often from artillery shells wired together in the trunk or back seat of a car, shear through the blazing summer heat. If you're too close, you're dead.
A few steps removed and you're maimed. To those who are spared, the odor of burnt flesh both sickens and reminds that luck has been a partner today.
There is a backbeat, too, to these mass attacks a barrage of bullets pumped into a car, or perhaps the single shot to the back of the head. Iraq's assassination victims by now number as many as a thousand, although no one keeps official count. Some are academics, doctors or lawyers; others are Iraqis suspected of working with the US-led occupation authority; still others are suspected former Baathists, followers of Saddam Hussein.
There are kidnappings, too. They seem mild by comparison because most merely seek a ransom, and the victim survives. But their spread has driven many of the country's professionals out of the country.
The United States and its allies have ruled Iraq for more than a year and can cite a list of successes.
But the occupation government has also failed notably in its attempts to restore security - and as the return of Iraq's sovereignty approaches, that reality is what dominates life for most Iraqis.
2005 elections might be delayed
Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi said Saturday that national elections set for January 2005 could be delayed if security is not established in the volatile country.
Iraq's interim constitution says elections for a national assembly must be held by January 31. But Allawi said in an interview with CBS News they could be delayed for up to two months.
"We are committed to elections and one of the tasks is really to work toward achieving these objectives," Allawi said in an interview in Baghdad with Dan Rather.
"However, security will be (the) main feature of whether we will be able to do it in January, February or March."
Asked if January was an "absolute certain date," for a vote, Allawi replied: "It's not absolute yet, it depends on how things will move. But we hope, and all of us will work toward that objective."
Iraq has been hit by a recent spate of car bombings and attacks that authorities blame on insurgents and supporters of Jordanian terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Allawi and members of his government have spoken in past days of possibly imposing martial law in some part of Iraq in an effort to rein in violence.