USA

The independent panel appointed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to study the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison found "fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soliders on the ground, to Central Command, to the Pentagon." The report, released Tuesday, however, directly faults soldiers serving at Abu Ghraib and their immediate commanders. No senior officials deserve to lose their jobs, the four-member commission led by former defense secretary James Schlesinger said. A second investigation, scheduled for release Wednesday, was expected to blame the intelligence unit and its commanders for some of the abuses.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who allegedly transported weapons for Al Qaeda after becoming Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguard and driver, appeared Tuesday at the first war-crimes tribunal convened by the US since World War II. Hamdan's Pentagon- appointed lawyer filed almost a dozen challenges to the proceeding, held before a commision of five military officers at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The chief outside counsel to President Bush's reelection campaign, Benjamin Ginsberg, said Tuesday he has provided legal advice to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group attempting to discredit the Vietnam service record of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. While election lawyers do not consider Ginsberg's actions to be a violation of campaign finance laws prohibiting collusion between campaigns and independent groups, The Wash- ington Post said, they appear to complicate the Bush camp's efforts to disassociate itself from the swift-boat veterans attacks.

A two-month pilot program to screen cargo on passenger planes has begun at several US airports, among them Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami, the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. The program uses the same technology employed to check luggage for bombs, a task now performed selectively on cargo by specially trained dogs. Delta, United, American, and Alaska airlines are test participants.

Hurricane Charley, which roared ashore along Florida's southwest coast Aug. 13, destroyed more than 12,000 homes, according to a preliminary assessment released by the American Red Cross Tuesday. Charley was the state's worst hurricane since Andrew in 1992 and is blamed for 23 deaths and up to $25 billion in property damage.

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