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FPF: Week of August 10

By Chris Zoia

This week on Front Page Flash: Anthrax specialist takes his life, Bush's thoughts on China, First War Trial in Guantanamo Bay, Coup in Mauritania, Paris Hilton for President, and Election Update!

Accused Anthrax Scientist Commits Suicide [New York Times]
Bruce E. Ivins, a military microbiologist who worked with some of the world’s most dangerous biological substances, committed suicide last week after the F.B.I. presented a sweeping case that revealed he was responsible for mailing the letters laced with anthrax that killed five people in 2001. Dr. Ivins overdosed on Tylenol with codeine, and his death leaves doubt as to whether the post-9/11 anthrax mystery was actually solved. His lawyers and colleagues continue to claim he was innocent, and that he killed himself due to false suspicions. Yet the F.B.I. maintains it has enough evidence that would have proven him guilty in court.

Bush Offers a Mixed Review of China [Washington Post]

On his trip to Beijing to see the Olympics, President Bush spoke about China’s role in the world, stating that it is difficult to gauge whether human rights in China have improved since he became president. However, he did recognize China's efforts in working to curb North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Bush also mentioned that he speaks openly with China’s president, Hu Jintao, about human rights—particularly religious freedom—and he suggested that China should be more proactive about pressuring abusive governments in Africa. Most significantly, Bush stressed that it is “important to engage the Chinese,” a surprising statement coming from a president surrounded by cabinet members who have always seen China as a strategic rival.

Split Verdict Shows First Guantanamo Bay War Trial is Fair [Los Angeles Times]
Osama Bin Laden's driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was convicted by a military jury in a Guantanamo Bay trial this week—the first trial conducted by a United States war crimes tribunal since WWII. The verdict, however, was mixed: while he was charged with supporting terrorism by providing material support to Bin Ladin as a driver and occasional bodyguard, he was acquitted of the more serious conspiracy charge. The jury ruled that Hamdan had not intended to aid terrorism by providing his services. The mixed verdict supports the White House’s statement that Hamdan received a fair trial by a balanced war tribunal, as will other detainees.

Coup Staged in Mauritania [Chicago Tribune]
This week, a bloodless coup was staged in Mauritania, Africa’s newest oil producer. A group of army soldiers detained the country’s president and prime minister, overthrowing the first freely elected Mauritanian government in the past 20 years. This is the 10th coup the country has witnessed since its independence from France in 1960. No official reason has yet been given for the coup.

Pakistani President Faces Impeachment [BBC]
Pakistan’s ruling party leaders say they will begin impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf. The current Pakistani president took power in 1999 in a bloodless coup, and he was "elected” president last year in a controversial parliamentary vote. Musharraf’s opponents say his impeachment will be a “good move for democracy” in Pakistan, since the president has worked “to undermine the transition to democracy.” Impeachment of an elected official is unprecedented in Pakistan, and whatever the outcome of the proceedings (a two-thirds majority vote is needed in the national assembly to impeach Musharraf), the result is bound to cause concern over who will rule Pakistan next, one of the world’s nine nuclear powers.

Water Cooler Story of the Week + Election Update:
First and foremost, Paris for President! Paris released an online video on funnyordie.com after the McCain campaign used her in one of their adds to show that Obama was a celebrity (like Paris and Britney) out of touch with common folk. In her bid for the presidency, Hilton suggested a “hybrid” energy plan of McCain's offshore oil-drilling proposal and Obama's incentives for new energy technology. She’s, like, totally ready to lead. That’s hot.

In other election news, Obama prepares for his first vacation in 18 months to Hawaii, with plans to announce a running mate and deliver an "exceptional" speech at the Democratic Convention when he gets back. Also, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice endorsed her party’s candidate (McCain) in an interview with Politico, but also surprisingly stated that she would feel safe if Obama were president.

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