Benazir Bhutto Returns to Pakistan
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
Hey, good morning, everyone.
After eight years in exile, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has returned home. Bhutto fled Pakistan in the face of corruption charges in 1999. Pakistan has now waived those charges, and she's returned in hopes of making a political comeback. She flew in this morning on a flight from Dubai, arriving at Karachi International Airport under tight security. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was on that plane, and she describes what it was like.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Both the press and the supporters of Benazir Bhutto were onboard. And everybody was yelling and hollering and whooping - I mean, not the press necessarily, but everyone else. And she came off the plane about 45 minutes after the plane was scheduled to land because of all the chaos, and she cried, held her hand up to the sky as if in prayer, and was very thankful to be home.
MARTIN: Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf have tentative plans to create a power-sharing deal. Musharraf has promised he'll resign as chief of the army if Pakistan's high court confirms his re-election win.
And U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans have reached a tentative deal with the Bush administration that would give immunity to telecommunications firms that have helped with the government's domestic spying program. According to the Washington Post, the immunity is part of a larger agreement about new legislation to control the federal government's domestic surveillance activities approved by President Bush after 9/11. Under the deal, telecommunications firms would be off the hook for handing over customer records to the government without a court order or subpoena. The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to review the legislation today.
And retired New York Judge Michael Mukasey had to walk a careful line yesterday during his confirmation hearing to be the country's next attorney general. Mukasey tried to convince members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he's the right man to replace embattled former AG Alberto Gonzales. On the one hand, Mukasey tried to assure lawmakers of his independence from the president, but at the same time he didn't back away from controversial anti-terrorism policies overseen by Gonzales. Here's a bit of Mukasey's testimony.
Mr. MICHAEL MUKASEY (Retired Judge; United States Attorney General Nominee): Protecting civil liberties and people's confidence that those liberties are protected is a part of protecting national security, just as is the gathering of intelligence to defend us from those who believe it is their duty to make war on us.
MARTIN: The confirmation hearings continue today. Finally, federal authorities say a Saudi-run school in Virginia is teaching religious intolerance, and they want to shut it down. In a report released today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society overall and the promotion of religious extremism in Saudi schools. Specifically, the report named the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private K through 12 school in Northern Virginia that serves about 1,000 students. The commission says the curriculum there is too closely based on Saudi curricula. The commission wants to shut the school down until textbooks and coursework can be reviewed.
That's the news, and it's always online at npr.org.
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STEWART: Rachel, I have to applaud you on your pronunciation of the attorney general candidate.
MARTIN: See, when I mispronounce things, you should call me up. But when I say things right, (unintelligible).
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MARTIN: You crazy, people?
(Soundbite of laughter)
STEWART: So that's…
BURBANK: Most useful pronouncer…
STEWART: That's pneumonic ever. All right. Thanks, Rachel.
MARTIN: You're welcome.
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