Russia Recognizes Libyan Rebels as Leaders Meet, U.S. Marks One Month With No Military Deaths in Iraq

BY News Desk  September 1, 2011 at 8:24 AM EDT

Representatives from 60 countries, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives from China and Russia, gathered in Paris Thursday for a major conference on Libya’s transition, 42 years to the day after a coup began Moammar Gadhafi’s rule in Libya.

The leaders will try to address the North African country’s urgent needs — the restoration of basic services like electricity and access to food — as well as longer term plans for reconstruction and establishing a democratic government.

Russia joined in recognizing the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya after being an early critic of the NATO air campaign. “Our country established and has maintained diplomatic relations with Libya since September 4, 1955, and has never broken them regardless of what kind of government was in power in Tripoli,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Although the rebels have been unable to locate Gadhafi, they have captured his foreign minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi. Several prominent members of Gadhafi’s family remain in Algeria, which has refused to hand them over to the NTC.

File photo by Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images.

U.S. Marks Month with No Military Deaths in Iraq

U.S. troops in Iraq. File photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images.

For the first time since the invasion in 2003, the United States has gone a month without a military death in Iraq. No casualties in August contrasts with July, when 14 soldiers died. Since the war began, 4,465 troops have died.

There are 48,000 troops still in Iraq, but they are scheduled to depart at the end of 2011. There have been discussions of a possible extension, should Iraqi leaders request their continued presence.

According to the New York Times, there has been a stepped-up effort to combat Shiite militias threatening Iraq’s fragile gains:

In July, nearly two-thirds of the Iraqi counterterrorism missions were aimed at Iranian-backed militias, compared with just a fifth of all missions in the first six months of the year. In the first half of the year the Shiite-led government focused on Al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups, according to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the military’s top spokesman in Iraq.

New Information on CIA Rendition Flights Revealed

New details have emerged about the CIA’s covert “extraordinary rendition” program after more than 1,700 pages of court files in a dispute between two aviation companies revealed how private contractors were used by the government to transport alleged terrorism suspects to various sites, including the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay and CIA-run overseas prisons.

The Associated Press reports:

The court files, which include contracts, flight invoices, cell phone logs and correspondence, paint a sweeping portrait of collusion between the government and the private contractors that did its bidding — some eagerly, some hesitantly. Other companies turned a blind eye to what was going on….

President George W. Bush acknowledged the existence of the prison network in 2006, and the CIA director in 2009, Leon Panetta, said the prisons were no longer in use. The intelligence agency has never acknowledged specific locations, but prisons overseen by U.S. officials reportedly operated in Poland, Romania, Thailand, Lithuania and Afghanistan. Detainees have claimed in legal actions that they were flown, often hooded and shackled, to the prisons, where some were exposed to simulated drowning known as waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.

Another Hurricane Strengthening Over the Atlantic

As the East Coast continues to recover from Hurricane Irene, another hurricane — Katia — is moving over the Atlantic with winds at 75 miles per hour.

“[S]trengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Katia could become a major hurricane by the weekend,” the National Weather Service said Thursday.