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News Wrap: Karzai Says U.S., NATO Must Strike Taliban Havens

July 29, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the United States and NATO are not attacking Taliban sanctuaries and alluded to sources of terror funding and training taking place in neighboring Pakistan.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained today that U.S. and NATO forces are not attacking Taliban sanctuaries. He said, the sources of funding and training of terrorism lie outside Afghanistan, an apparent reference to Pakistan.

This week’s huge leak of U.S. military documents depicted Pakistan’s spy agency collaborating with the Taliban. Karzai said the leaks have also jeopardized Afghan informants.

HAMID KARZAI, president of Afghanistan: Whether those individuals acted legitimately or illegitimately in providing information to the NATO forces, there are lives. And those lives will be in danger now. Therefore, we consider that extremely irresponsible and an act that one cannot overlook.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates also criticized WikiLeaks for releasing 91,000-plus classified documents. He warned of severe consequences for U.S. troops and U.S. allies.

ROBERT GATES, U.S. Secretary of Defense: It’s amazing how much trust matters in relationships, whether it’s with governments or with individuals, around the world. And — and it seems to me that, as a result of this massive breach of security, we have considerable repair work to do in terms of reassuring people and rebuilding trust.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Gates also said the Defense Department is now clamping down on access to information in the field.

Meanwhile, the body of a second U.S. Navy man was recovered in Eastern Afghanistan. He and other — he and another petty officer disappeared in Logar Province last month. The other man’s body was found on Sunday. NATO officials have not explained why the two Americans were out by themselves in dangerous country.

The scandal at Arlington National Cemetery may be getting worse. That word came as U.S. senators raised new alarms about the confusion over who’s buried where.

The problems with mixed-up and misidentified graves at Arlington appeared to mushroom today. At a Senate oversight hearing, Democrat Claire McCaskill said it could be much worse than initial estimates of up to 211 burial sites.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-Mo.: The problems with the graves at Arlington may be far more extensive than previously acknowledged. At a conservative estimate, 4,900 to 6,600 graves may be unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled on the cemetery’s map.

HARI SREENIVASAN: McCaskill cited her own investigation, but gave no details. Last month, Army investigators blamed Arlington’s problems on years of shoddy record-keeping and mismanagement. In short order, the two men tasked with overseeing the cemetery were forced out.

Today, the former superintendent, John Metzler, acknowledged he’s ultimately to blame.

JOHN METZLER, former superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery: As the senior government official in charge of the cemetery, I accept full responsibility for all of my actions and for the actions of my team. And I want to express my sincere regrets to any family who may have — these failures may have caused them pain.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Metzler ran Arlington for 19 years. But he suggested the disclosures of misidentified graves surprised him. That angered lawmakers like Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

SEN. SCOTT BROWN, R-Mass.: I’m an attorney before I got here. I tell you, this would be — I would have a lot of fun with you in a deposition, because I don’t feel we’re getting the straight talk here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Metzler’s former deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, generally blamed outmoded record keeping.

THURMAN HIGGINBOTHAM, former deputy superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery: It was always to me conceptual that anything done by hand for 140-plus years, there has to be some errors somewhere.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Higginbotham refused to answer most other questions, citing his right against self-incrimination.

The estimate on how much oil has spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River rose sharply today. The Environmental Protection Agency said more than a million gallons of oil may have leaked from a pipeline since Monday. The oil could reach Lake Michigan 80 miles downstream.

And, in New Orleans, the government point man on the Gulf oil spill,

Thad Allen, said the effort to plug the blown well could begin by this weekend.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 30 points to close at 10467. The Nasdaq fell nearly 13 points to close at 2251.

Toyota has announced yet another recall in North America — 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada may have steering problems. The recall is mostly for Avalons from the 2000 to 2004 model years. Toyota plans to fix the problem by replacing a part on the steering column, a procedure that takes about two hours at dealerships.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jeff.