Iran Sanctions: Part 3

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 25 2007 7:49 AM

Iran Sanctions: Part 3

Will the UN pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear ambition?

The Washington Post leads with the U.N. Security Council imposing sanctions against Iran for the third time in the last eight months. The Los Angeles Times leads with a scoop: CIA intelligence reports that the U.S.-supported head of the Colombian army is in league with "right-wing militias that Washington considers terrorist organizations." The New York Times leads with exclusive revelations that New York City's police department spent a year spying on people who planned to protest at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the financial assets of 28 individuals connected with the country's military and nuclear programs. The resolution is aimed at Iran's continued uranium-enrichment efforts, not the crisis over 15 captured British sailors and Marines. The resolution's language was weaker than what the U.S., the United Kingdom, and France originally proposed, but according to the NYT (which off-leads the story) State Department officials were pleased with the compromise. China and Russia had fought language including travel bans, arms import bans, and other measures. The council said it would impose additional sanctions if Iran did not abandon its enrichment programs in 60 days.

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Gen. Mario Montoya is the latest in a string of Colombian officials to be suspected of collaborating with right-wing militia groups. The reports concern a 2002 offensive during which Montoya allegedly worked with paramilitary groups to attack leftist supporters near the city of Medellin. Montoya's connections are potentially embarrassing to the Pentagon because of his ties to a U.S. counterinsurgency plan known as "Plan Colombia." The paper freely points out that the story is chiefly based on a single raw intelligence document provided by an anonymous government worker. The CIA wouldn't confirm the report's authenticity and asked the paper not to run the story because of security concerns. TP appreciates the disclosure, though it doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Is this story really big enough to risk getting it wrong in exchange for nailing down the scoop?

The NYPD spent more than a year surveying meetings and members of groups across the U.S. and abroad that were planning anti-GOP protests at the 2004 NRC convention in New York City. The paper says city police kept files on hundreds of people, regardless of whether or not they planned any illegal activity. The city asserts that all investigations were done well within the limits of the law, though some groups, like the New York Civil Liberties Union, disagree.

The NYT fronts a piece on the U.S. attorneys scandal, focusing on statements made by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over the past few months that contradict the thousands of pages of Justice Department documents released last week. For example: While Gonzales said he was unaware of a plan to oust the attorneys, the documents make clear that he was told about it at least twice, once in 2005 and once in 2006. The paper says the discrepancies give Democrats in Congress ammunition to push for Gonzales to testify under oath about the purge.

The WP reports on the flaws in a government database that acts as a feeder for all terrorist watch lists. Officials admit that the criterion for admission to the list is low, that their intelligence is occasionally spurious, and that getting off the list is nearly impossible. The piece also captures the frustration of the list's curators, however, both with the system they must maintain and the inevitable barrage of criticism it creates.

The NYT says that the CIA is still without clear interrogation guidelines  six months after Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, which was meant to clear up legal questions surround the treatment of detainees.

All 130,000 teachers of Advanced Placement-level classes will soon have to prove their courses are fit to bear the "AP" designation, reports the WP. AP classes are high-school courses meant to duplicate the rigor of undergraduate coursework. The College Board, the company that administers the program, is concerned the explosion of schools offering AP courses has led to a decline in quality among instructors.

Years of violence have all but destroyed Iraq's intelligentsia, according to the LAT. Those who haven't been killed already are trying to flee the country, leaving the struggling nation with a dearth of potential leaders.

A debate over a how to translate a controversial passage of the Quran rages on in the pages of the NYT. The passage concerns the proper treatment of a rebellious wife and contains a particular verb with a variety of meanings. Some scholars insist the verse condones striking a disobedient woman. The NYT's piece follows an American Muslim woman's attempt to translate the phrase and reconcile the verse with her faith.

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