Other News: Iran Detains Three Americans; GOP Senators Line up Against Sotomayor
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GWEN IFILL: In other news today, Iran confirmed it has arrested and charged three Americans with illegally entering the country. The three crossed the border from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region last Friday. Officials there said the Americans were tourists who went astray. Iranian state television reported they are being questioned by police to verify their story.
In Iraq, the top American commander dismissed a U.S. colonel’s recommendation to withdraw well ahead of schedule. The colonel said there’s little more the U.S. can do. But Army General Ray Odierno disagreed. He told the Associated Press, “Our goal here is a secure, stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq. We’re not there yet.”
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Taliban militants fired rockets into Kabul. They hit a neighborhood of embassies and government buildings.
Police in Australia announced today they foiled a terror plot to attack an army base there. Four men were arrested in raids across Melbourne. They’re allegedly tied to a Somali group with links to al-Qaida. Officials said the suspects planned to storm the military base and shoot as many soldiers as possible.
The Senate moved this evening to debate the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. It was already clear a majority of senators support confirmation. Still, nearly three-quarters of Republicans were expected to vote against it.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doubts Sotomayor would put aside personal and political beliefs and be impartial.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Senate minority leader: The primary reason I will not support this nomination, as I have already said, is because I cannot support the so-called empathy standard upon which Judge Sotomayor was selected and to which she herself has subscribed in her writings and rulings.
GWEN IFILL: Democrats countered Sotomayor has a 17-year record as a moderate, mainstream judge. And Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Republicans for their opposition.
SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev., Senate majority leader: I’m disappointed not more of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are likely to vote for this outstanding nominee, particularly in light of her record and qualifications, but maybe in the future things will get better.
I am, however, grateful for the respect my colleagues have shown her throughout this process, even those who have said they’re not going to vote for her.
GWEN IFILL: The confirmation vote is expected to take place on Thursday.
In economic news, there were two encouraging reports from June. The National Association of Realtors reported pending home sales were up for a fifth straight month, and the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose 0.4 percent. It’s been up two months in a row.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 33 points to close at 9,320. The Nasdaq rose more than 2 points to close at 2,011.