December 2004

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


  • Jailed Palestinian Militant Announces Candidacy (Dec. 1): Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti says he will run for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, challenging former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Ukranian Court Calls for New Election (Dec. 3): Supreme Court overturns disputed election results and orders a new runoff election by Dec. 26. Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, who narrowly lost to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, claimed the election was marred by widespread fraud. (Dec. 8): Ukraine amends constitution, transferring some presidential powers to parliament. Changes also intended to avoid voter fraud. (Dec. 26): Yushchenko soundly defeats Yanukovich in runoff, taking about 52% of the vote.
  • U.S. Consulate Attacked (Dec. 6): Five gunmen storm the compound in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, killing five employees, none of them are American. Four of the attackers are also killed. Al Qaeda is believed to be responsible.
  • Hamid Karzai Inaugurated (Dec. 7): Karzai inaugurated as Afghanistan's first popularly elected president. Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attend the ceremony, along with politicians from many other countries.
  • World Hunger on the Rise (Dec. 8): United Nations reports that there are 852 million chronically hungry people in the world. The figure marks an increase of 18 million from 2000. The study also reveals that more than 5 million children die each year from hunger and malnutrition.
  • Car Bomb Explodes Outside Safe Area in Iraq (Dec. 13): Eleven Iraqis killed and more than a dozen wounded when a powerful suicide bomber attacks the fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government buildings.
  • Judge Rules That Pinochet Fit for Trial (Dec. 13): Chilean judge declares that former dictator competent to stand trial for human-rights abuses, including kidnapping and murder, during his 17-year rule.
  • European Union Open to Admitting Turkey (Dec. 17): Invites Turkey to begin accession talks in 2005. Process will likely take 10 years.
  • Violence Escalates in Iraq (Dec. 19): Car bombers target Shiites and election workers in brazen attacks in Najaf and Karbala. More than 60 people killed and 120 wounded. (Dec. 21): Bomb explodes in U.S. military tent at base in Mosul. At least 24 people die, including 19 American soldiers.
  • Enormous Earthquake Devastates Asia (Dec. 26): Earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 erupts off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, causing tidal waves that rage at more than 500 miles per hour across the Indian Ocean. Nearly 140,000 people die in a dozen nations in Asia and East Africa, and millions are left homeless. Indonesia heaviest hit, with 100,000 casualties.


  • Bush Nominates Homeland Security Secretary (Dec. 2): President selects former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik to replace Tom Ridge. (Dec. 11): Kerik withdraws his nomination, saying he had employed a nanny who was in the country illegally and that he failed to pay employer taxes on her behalf.
  • Intelligence Bill Passes (Dec. 7): After several procedural delays, the House votes on and passes, 336–75, a broad overhaul of the country's intelligence community. Legislation creates a national intelligence director and reorganizes the country's intelligence agencies. (Dec. 8): Senate approves bill, 89–2. (Dec. 17): President Bush signs the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act of 2004, the most broad overhaul of the country's intelligence community in decades.
  • Armor for Troops Questioned (Dec. 8): At base in Kuwait, soldiers put Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the defensive when they ask why their trucks aren't properly equipped with protective armor. (Dec. 9): Congressional report indicates that transport trucks lack adequate armor. Factory-armored Humvees are well equipped, but only about 75% of the Humvees needed by troops have been delivered.
  • EPA Chief Selected to Head Health and Human Services Department (Dec. 13): President Bush nominates Michael Leavitt, former governor of Utah and current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to succeed departing HHS secretary Tommy Thompson.
  • Missile Test Fails (Dec. 15): Interceptor that was to launch from Marshall Islands and target a mock warhead shuts down because of “an unknown anomaly.” Setback for Bush administration's missile defense system.
  • Bush Cuts Food Aid (Dec. 22): Citing ballooning budget deficit, Bush administration acknowledges it has reduced aid to global food programs. Charities estimate reductions at about $100 million.


  • IBM Sells PC Business (Dec. 7): Technology giant IBM sells its personal computer division to Beijing company Lenovo for $1.75 billion. IBM will also receive 18.9% of Lenovo.
  • Gates Foundation Donates Millions to Fight Malaria (Dec. 13): The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announces that it will donate $42.6 million to a nonprofit drug company that is attempting to produce an inexpensive and effective malaria treatment.
  • Highest Bridge Opens in France (Dec. 14): French president Jacques Chirac inaugurates the world's highest bridge, the Millau Viaduct, a thousand-foot high cable-stayed bridge that spans 1.5 miles across the Tarn valley in southern France.

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