President Bush vows to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein doesn t flee within 48 hours: Democracy Now talks to response Dennis Halliday, Ralph Nader, Leslie Cagan and Jeremy Scahill; With 300,000 troops set to invade Iraq, Gulf War veterans are concerned the safety of US forces may be compromised: We talk to Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center; U.S. government executes celebrated Gulf War veteran: Did exposure to nerve agents lead Louis Jones, Jr. to kill?; Oil, security and world domination: Professor Michael Klare discusses how the U.S. is working to redraw the strategic map of the Middle East
8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20 President Bush gives Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a 48-hour deadline to leave Iraq or face: We hear response from Dennis Halliday, Ralph Nader, Leslie Cagan and Jeremy Scahill President Bush last night vowed to attack Iraq if President Saddam Hussein and his sons do not flee the country within 48 hours. The Iraqi government immediately rejected the ultimatum. Bush also told Iraqi soldiers not to fight for a "dying regime" - and not to destroy Iraq s oil wells. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ordered the evacuation of the weapons inspectors and humanitarian staff from the country. The first wave of UN workers has already landed in Cyprus. Annan also suspended the oil-for-food program. Bush s speech came just hours after the US and Britain admitted they had failed to win United Nations Security Council backing for war. They pulled the second U.N. resolution without taking a vote. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan challenged the legitimacy of unilateral military action but refrained from branding it illegal. In Britain, three ministers have already resigned. The leader of the British House of Commons Robin Cook resigned just after the US and Britain pulled the UN resolution. His resignation speech late last night was met with an unprecedented round of applause and a standing ovation by some Members of Parliament. Today, Home Office Minister John Denham and Health Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath also resigned. But International Development Secretary Clare Short announced she would stay in her cabinet post despite earlier threats to resign. Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a peaceful resolution said a U.S. attack would have the "gravest consequences." Meanwhile, the Russian parliament delayed ratification of a major nuclear disarmament treaty with the US. A parliamentary spokesman said the decision was made after Bush s declaration and in the conditions of the massive US pressure on the international community. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin denounced the United States, for pulling the resolution from the U.N. He said a wide majority of the 15 members of the Security Council oppose the US. He said the US, Britain and Spain are resorting to force "despite the clearly expressed will of the international community. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today there is no justification for war that will bring certain death to thousands of innocent men, women and children. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao opposed Bush's ultimatum to Hussein, and held out hope of a diplomatic solution. Meanwhile the U.S. government raised its terrorist threat level to orange, or "high risk," last night as President Bush was delivering his speech on Iraq. Top federal officials asked states to deploy the National Guard or state police to protect sensitive sites across the nation from possible attack. Tape: President George Bush, recorded March 17, 2003 Tape: Denis Halliday, ex-Director of UN Humanitarian Program for Iraq 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:30 With 300,000 troops set to invade Iraq, Gulf War veterans are concerned the safety of US forces may be compromised: We talk to Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center People in the US like to think of the 1991 war against Saddam Hussein as a sweeping victory, obliterating Iraqi forces while costing a minimal loss of U.S. lives. But ask many veterans of that war, and they say casualties can't be measured by the 148 who died or the 500 wounded in battle. In the 12 years since, nearly 164,000 Gulf veterans, about 28 percent of those who served, have been certified by government doctors for service-related medical claims more than twice the rate of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Veterans Administration doesn't track how many of those are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. But the government's own studies consistently show that up to 30 percent of Gulf vets are sufferers. Now, as some 300,000 troops await orders to strike Iraq again, a cadre of Gulf veterans worry that the same epidemic of unexplained illnesses threatens a new generation of soldiers. And, perhaps, their children. Guest: Steve Robinson, Executive Director of the National Gulf War Resource Center Contact: http://www.ngwrc.org 8:30-8:40 U.S. government executes celebrated Gulf War veteran: Did exposure to nerve agents lead Louis Jones, Jr. to kill? This morning at 7:00 a.m. a decorated Gulf War veteran Louis Jones Jr., was executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. Last night President Bush denied the request for clemency by Jones and his lawyers. The U.S. Supreme Court also refused to block the execution yesterday. Jones, convicted of kidnapping, rape and the murder of a fellow army officer in Texas, in 1995, was exposed to chemical agents as a soldier in the Persian Gulf war. In 2000, he received a letter from the Pentagon telling him that he had been exposed to nerve agents. The chemicals were released when the Army demolished a munitions plant in Khamisiyah, Iraq, in March 1991. The Pentagon has since said the chemicals were the nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin. The evidence of Jones's exposure to nerve agents was not available at his trial in 1995, though the defense did argue that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. In a letter to President Bush, Mr. Jones did not deny his crime and admitted that he "wantonly took" a "precious life, "I think of the marine she was engaged to," he wrote of his victim. "I think of the children she could have had. Her son could have discovered a cure for a disease of our time." Mr. Jones, who wrote that he had become a Christian, asked for clemency so that he could minister to other prisoners for the rest of his life. This morning, about a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil just a quarter-mile from the prison. A sign leaning against a fence in front of the group said, ``The tragic irony: As we rush recklessly to war with Iraq we are killing a veteran of the first Gulf War.'' Guest: Dick Burr, lawyer for Louis Jones and federal death penalty expert 8:40-8:41 One Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58 Oil, security and world domination: Professor Michael Klare discusses how the U.S. is working to redraw the strategic map of the Middle East A recent piece by Michael Klare titled, New Global Hot Spot - Iraq War Will Redraw Strategic Map begins: The old Cold War theaters of Europe and the Far East are being replaced in strategic importance by the Persian Gulf basin, where the desires of Russia, China and the United States for oil, security and geopolitical advantage could collide. By invading Iraq, the United States will do far more than topple an odious regime that has resisted American policy goals for the past 10 years -- it will redraw the global strategic map in a way that has not occurred in more than half a century. Ever since the end of World War II, the two most important theaters of international political and military competition have been Europe and the Far East. These are the regions that attracted the greatest attention from U.S. and Soviet strategists during the Cold War period and housed the largest concentration of military forces. Most of the major confrontations of the Cold War era -- the various Berlin crises, the Korean War and the Vietnam War -- also occurred in these areas. But now, with the invasion of Iraq, these two areas are being supplanted by the Persian Gulf basin as the central cockpit of global political competition. From now on, relations between the world's great powers -- especially the United States, Russia, and China -- will be defined by their relative geo-strategic position in this vital region. The greater Gulf region, including the Caspian Sea basin (which stretches to within a few hundred miles of Baghdad), houses over two-thirds of the world's known petroleum reserves and will become ever more important to the world economy as oil supplies in other areas, including the United States, the North Sea and China become depleted. We go now to a recent speech Klare gave this weekend at the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York. Tape: Michael Klare, the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, based at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira and Elizabeth Press. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.