Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Here are the key news events of the month organized into three categories: World News, U.S. News, and Business, Society, and Science News.
- U.S. Troops Kill Several Civilians in Afghanistan (March 4): After a suicide attack near Jalalabad, American soldiers open fire on a road filled with civilians and kill 16 of them.
- Dozens of Shiites Are Killed (March 6): Sunni insurgents attack pilgrims as they make their way to a religious ceremony in Karbala, killing about 120 people and wounding as many as 200.
- Britain Moves to Introduce Elections to the House of Lords (March 7): House of Commons votes in favor of electing legislators to the upper chamber of Parliament, replacing current system of inherited or appointed seats.
- Sept. 11 Organizer Said to Have Confessed (March 10): Khalid Shaikh Mohammed reportedly assumes responsibility for the attacks on the United States and a role in many others, including the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center, a failed plan to bomb Big Ben in London, and assassination attempts on Pope John Paul II and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
- French President Announces Plans to Retire (March 11): President Chirac announces his retirement after more than 40 years in politics. He did not, however, endorse a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.
- Iraq Failing to Meet Timecap Set by U.S. (March 14): Pentagon report finds Iraq is lagging behind on meeting major political objectives, including holding local elections, ending de-Baathification laws, reforming the Constitution, and passing a law on distributing oil revenues.
- Palestinians Form Unity Government (March 15): Leaders of Hamas and Fatah agree on a coalition government. The platform that outlines the government does not recognize Israel, accept earlier Israeli-Palestinian accords, or renounce violence, conditions required by Western countries before they resume aid to the Palestinian government. (March 17): The Palestinian legislature approves the Hamas-dominated unity government. Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya, who is also the leader of Hamas, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of Fatah, remain divided on important issues regarding Israel.
- UN Security Council Approves Stricter Sanctions on Iran (March 24): Unanimously votes in favor of resolution that bans the sale or transfer of weapons and freezes the assets of 15 Iranians and 13 groups, many of which are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps. Sanctions are meant to push Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
- Iran Detains British Sailors (March 26): Iranian troops claim that the Britons, eight sailors and seven marines, were in Iranian territorial waters. British officials deny the allegation, saying they were in Iraqi waters. (March 28): Britain suspends all "bilateral business" with Iran in response to the crisis.
- First Guantánamo Detainee Is Convicted (March 26): David Hicks, an Australian, pleads guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda. He's the first person to be convicted by a military commission set up by the Bush administration in late 2006. Hicks had trained at an al Qaeda camp.
- Leaders of Northern Ireland Reach Historic Agreement (March 26): For the first time, Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, and Rev. Ian Paisley, the head of the Democratic Unionist Party, meet face-to-face and hash out an agreement for a power-sharing government. The new administration is set to take control in May.
- New Ambassador Takes Over in Iraq (March 28): Seasoned diplomat Ryan Crocker replaces Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Crocker previously served as the ambassador to Pakistan.
- Arab Leaders Weigh In on Iraq and Israel (March 28): At the opening of the Arab League meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saudi King Abdullah calls the American occupation of Iraq "illegal." (March 29): The leaders of 21 Arab governments offer to normalize relations with Israel if it agrees to withdraw from the land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war, allows Palestinian refugees the right to return to the homes they lived in before the 1948 war, which are in what is now Israel, and agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state with the capital in Jerusalem. (March 30): Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert says that Israel will not give Palestinian refugees the right to return to their original homes.
- Dozens Are Killed in Iraq (March 29): Sectarian violence escalates as some 60 people are killed in a suicide attack in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. More than 30 others die in coordinated attacks in Khalis, a Shiite town. The attacks follow intense violence in Tal Afar, which claimed about 140 people in two days.
- Army Leaders Dismissed over Conditions at Medical Center (March 1): Maj. Gen. George Weightman is removed from his post as head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (March 2): Army Secretary Francis Harvey steps down. Dismissals follow reports that patients have received inadequate care, have been caught in a maze of bureaucratic red tape, and have been treated in dilapidated facilities. (March 6): President Bush appoints former senator Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, former secretary of health and human services, to head a bipartisan commission to investigate the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
- Libby Is Convicted in CIA Leak Case (March 6): Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is found guilty of lying to FBI agents and to a grand jury in the investigation of who leaked to the press the name of a covert CIA agent. The agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, is married to Joseph Wilson, who in 2003 questioned the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapons program by seeking to obtain uranium from Niger.
- Scandal Intensifies over Fired Federal Prosecutors (March 6): In hearings before the Senate and House, seven U.S. attorneys who were fired in late 2006 say they received inappropriate calls from Republican lawmakers or Justice Department officials regarding corruption cases they were investigating. They also say they felt pressured by the Justice Department to keep quiet about their dismissals. (March 12): D. Kyle Sampson, chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who, email records show, corresponded in late 2006 with White House officials about the dismissals, resigns. (March 13): Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admits that the Justice Department made mistakes and exercised poor judgment in firing seven federal prosecutors in late 2006. President Bush, however, says he has confidence in Gonzales. Congress is investigating whether the dismissals were politically motivated and if the White House was involved. (March 20): President Bush says he will allow members of congressional committees that are investigating the dismissals to interview presidential adviser Karl Rove; Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel; and two other administration officials under certain conditions: that the officials will not testify under oath and there will be no transcripts made of the meetings. Democratic members of Congress reject the offer. (March 21): The House Judiciary Committee approves subpoenas that would require the officials to testify under oath. (March 29): In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, contradicts earlier statements by Gonzales that the attorney general was not involved in planning the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys. "I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate," Sampson says.
- FBI Obtained Information Improperly (March 10): Report by Glenn Fine, the inspector general of the Justice Department, indicates that the bureau improperly and sometimes illegally used a provision of the USA Patriot Act to obtain information about individuals and businesses. FBI director Robert Mueller III admits that errors were made.
- Senate Resolution on Troop Withdrawal Fails (March 15): Democratic-sponsored resolution that calls for combat troops to start withdrawing from Iraq within 120 days and be fully withdrawn by March 31, 2008, fails to win the required 60 votes. The vote was 50–48.
- Gore Urges Congressional Panels to Act on Global Warming (March 21): Former vice president tells House and Senate committees that global warming has created a "
planetary emergency"and seeks prompt federal action to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Edwards to Continue Campaign Despite Wife's Cancer Diagnosis (March 21): John Edwards says he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination even though his wife, Elizabeth, has an incurable but treatable form of cancer.
- House Approves Plan to Withdraw Troops from Iraq (March 23): Votes, 218–212, in favor of legislation that calls for most combat soldiers to exit Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008. Timetable is part of an emergency $124 billion war-funding bill.
- Senate Votes to Support Timetable to Withdraw from Iraq (March 27): Votes, 50–48, to thwart an effort by Republicans to strip from a military spending bill the inclusion of a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. (March 29): The Senate approves, 51–47, military spending bill that provides $97.5 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan and calls for the withdrawal of combat troops to begin within 120 days and for most to be out of Iraq within one year.
- Tornadoes Ravage Several States (March 1): Storms hit Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, and Georgia, killing about 20 people, including eight high school students.
- U.S. Says It Will Impose Duties on Chinese Goods (March 30): In a policy shift, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez announces the U.S. will impose duties on some manufactured materials, claiming the Chinese government is illegally subsidizing some exports.