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Thursday, September 16, 2004 - Page updated at 12:37 A.M.

Iraq Notebook
Iraq war illegal, says U.N. leader


MARCO DI LAURO / GETTY IMAGES
Iraqis arrive by bus after they were released from Abu Ghraib prison. The release of 275 prisoners is the first release after a review by a joint Iraqi, U.S. military committee set up last month to review the cases after the prisoner-abuse scandal.
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UNITED NATIONS — The U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council was "illegal," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the BBC yesterday.

"I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time — without U.N. approval and much broader support from the international community," he said in an interview with the BBC World Service.

The U.N. Charter allows nations to take military action with Security Council approval as an explicit enforcement action, such as during the Korean War and the 1991 Gulf War.

But in 2003, in the build-up to the Iraq war, the United States dropped an attempt to get a Security Council resolution approving the invasion when it became apparent it would not pass. After being asked three times yesterday whether the lack of council approval for the war meant it was illegal, Annan said: "From our point of view and the [UN ] Charter point of view it was illegal."

He also said that the wave of violence engulfing Iraq puts in doubt the national elections scheduled for January.

Analysts' assessment on Iraq pessimistic

WASHINGTON — A highly classified National Intelligence Estimate assembled by some of the government's most senior analysts this summer provided a pessimistic assessment about the future security and stability of Iraq.

The National Intelligence Council looked at the political, economic and security situation in the war-torn country and determined — at best — the situation would be tenuous in terms of stability, a U.S. official said late yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

At worst, the official said, were "trend lines that would point to a civil war."

The intelligence estimate, prepared for President Bush, was initiated by the National Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence officials who provide long-term strategic thinking for the entire U.S. intelligence community but report to the director of central intelligence.

It was completed under acting CIA Director John McLaughlin. He and the leaders of the other intelligence agencies approved it.
 
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The document was first reported by the New York Times on its Web site last night.

Three found decapitated; car bomb kills two

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A U.S. Army patrol found the bodies of three decapitated men north of Baghdad yesterday, and a car bomb at an Iraqi national guard checkpoint to the south a few hours later killed two people and wounded at least 10.

A U.S. military official said the bodies appeared to be Iraqis and had their hands tied behind their backs. The heads were found near the bodies.

Baghdad attacks bring death toll to 150

In Baqouba, north of Baghdad, another roadside bomb reportedly wounded four police officers and a civilian. The attacks brought the death toll in and around Baghdad to 150 in the past four days in a campaign by insurgents to destabilize the interim government.

U.S. troops also clashed with insurgents in Ramadi, killing at least 10 people and wounding more than 30, local officials said.

The U.S. military reported that a Marine was killed Tuesday during fighting west of Baghdad, and a second Marine died of wounds received yesterday in the same area.

Iraqi leader to address Congress next week

WASHINGTON — Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi will address a joint session of Congress and make high-profile appearances in Washington, D.C., next week, a debut visit to the United States that the Bush administration will make the centerpiece of a vigorous election-year defense of its troubled Iraq policy, according to U.S. officials.

Iraq's interim leader will also speak to the U.N. General Assembly.

At the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, Allawi intends to appeal for greater international support for Iraq as it goes through three elections and writes a new constitution over the next 16 months, U.S. officials said.

275 inmates freed from Abu Ghraib

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military released 275 prisoners yesterday from the Abu Ghraib prison, the facility near Baghdad where Iraqi detainees were abused.

This marked the first release after a review by a joint Iraqi and military committee set up last month to review the cases, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman.

As a result of this review process, as many as 500 additional prisoners will be released by the end of the month, Johnson said. There are 2,500 prisoners remaining.

More than 5,000 prisoners have been released from Abu Ghraib since the scandal involving mistreatment of prisoners at the hands of the U.S. soldiers broke out earlier this year.

Also

Iran condemned the killing of one of its civil servants in Iraq and demanded that the Iraqi government punish those responsible, state television reported yesterday. Unidentified assailants killed Labib Mohammadi of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization near the central Iraqi city of Karbala. Iran, a Shiite Muslim country, has close ties to Iraq's majority Shiite population.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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