In our news wrap Friday, a team of 70 international investigators combed through the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, locating some of the remains of as many as 80 victims. Nearby, fighting raged between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian militia. Also, President Obama acknowledged that the U.S. tortured al-Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks.
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In other news, a team of 70 international investigators fanned out across the Eastern Ukraine crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 today. They combed through the wreckage, locating some of the remains of as many as 80 victims that had been missing since the plane was shot down two weeks ago. Fighting still raged nearby.
The Ukrainian national security spokesman confirmed at least 10 soldiers were killed when their convoy came under attack by pro-Russian separatists.
ANDRIY LYSENKO, Spokesman, Ukraine National Security Council (through interpreter):
There is information that the ambush was by the rebels who are trying to defend the area from the Ukrainian army. They are doing that because it is a strategic point that would allow us to cut off Luhansk from Donetsk, two rebel strongholds.
In Washington, President Obama insisted the U.S. is doing everything it can to prevent Russia from intervening in the Ukraine crisis. He said President Vladimir Putin should want to cooperate in order to lift tough economic sanctions on his country. But Mr. Obama acknowledged, sometimes, people don’t always act rationally.
A controversial and much-protested anti-gay law in Uganda was invalidated today. The country’s constitutional court ruled that it was null and void because the parliament didn’t have a quorum when it was passed earlier this year. The law imposed sentences of up to life in prison for those who engaged in homosexual relations.
President Obama acknowledged today that the U.S. tortured al-Qaida detainees who were captured after the 9/11 attacks. He confirmed the White House has turned over a declassified report to the Senate about the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The president made some of his most expansive comments to date with reporters this afternoon.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Even before I came into office, I was very clear that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.
The president added he could understand why this happened, that law enforcement officials were real patriots under enormous pressure.
Separately, he expressed his full support for CIA Director John Brennan, who faced calls to resign from two senators today. An internal CIA report concluded that some agency employees spied on a Senate computer network while they were preparing a report on the agency’s interrogation program. Brennan has ordered an accountability board to investigate.
Before heading out of town for its August break, the Senate managed to finish some business. It sent a bill to President Obama to revamp the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it backed a bill to fund highway and transit projects through next May. On the House side, Republican members tried to hammer out revised legislation on immigration after a border bill completely unraveled yesterday. We will come back to that with Shields and Brooks a little later in the program.
July was an excellent month for car sales in the U.S., helped along by deep discounts. Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan all had double-digit gains. And even in the midst of its massive recall effort, General Motors’ sales were up 9 percent over a year ago.
On Wall Street, U.S. markets rounded out their worst week in two years. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 70 points to close at 16,493. The Nasdaq fell 17 points to close at 4,352. And the S&P 500 dropped five points to close at 1,925. For the week, the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P all fell more than 2 percent.