Religion as a Tool of Repression

Freedom of speech and dissent are always curtailed in times of war. Whenever soldiers occupy foreign nations, rational thinking is proscribed in favor of nationalistic hubris. Minority opinions, although grounded in ethics and reason, are repressed, often brutally. The majority becomes intolerant of dissenting views. Thoughtful dialog is suspended and irrational ideology gains ascendancy. Civil discourse breaks down, and the social order disintegrates into anti-intellectual emotionalism and chaos.

During World War I and World War II, it was dangerous for anyone to oppose war or to speak truth to power. When Eugene Victor Debs delivered his Canton anti-war speech in 1918, he went to prison. In An Enemy of the People, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen demonstrated that the majority of the people are easily deceived, their emotions manipulated by profiteers and special interests. It requires serious conviction to take a principled stand in the midst of nationalistic fervor in which men and women so easily turn upon one another. During war, nationalism and repression are conducted with the fervor of a religious crusade.

In this era of permanent war we see bumper stickers that attempt to meld religion with nationalism. They carry jingoistic slogans like “God bless America” or “God bless our troops.” Significantly, God even appears on our currency. But why would a just God, if God exists at all, bless a nation that kills with impunity? Why would God bless a nation with a history of repression and genocide?  Why would God bless a nation that institutionalized chattel slavery and the repression of its working class?

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Study: Occupied Baghdad is least livable city on planet

The Iraq war is still being touted by Washington and the Pentagon as a war for progress and stability in the region. A study released May 26, however, reveals a radically different reality.

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Baghdad last in a list of “most livable cities.” The study took into account political, economic, ecological, social and cultural factors.

The result is not surprising considering the devastation brought on by the U.S.-led invasion. Sewage treatment plants, factories, schools, hospitals, and museums have been destroyed. As a result, Iraqi citizens now have scarce access to water and electricity.

The demolition of infrastructure is an important tactic in imperialist war and helps explain why the study found that, “A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad’s quality of living.”

The only benefactors from the occupation have been big corporations like BP, who got access to the giant Rumaila oil field. The citizens of Iraq continue to pay with their lives.

Marine Corps Major accused of taking reconstruction funds

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – A Marine Corps fighter pilot accused of stealing $440,000 in Iraq reconstruction funds turned himself in on Monday, federal officials said.

Maj. Mark R. Fuller, 42, of Yuma, Ariz., is facing 22 counts under an indictment issued by a federal grand jury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. An arrest warrant was issued for Fuller, who appeared before a federal judge Monday and “was released on his own recognizance,” said Special Agent James McCormick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal prosecutors charge that Fuller took cash earmarked for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, or CERP, and made 91 cash deposits totaling more than $440,000 into bank accounts with Navy Federal Credit Union, Bank of America and Chase Bank from October 2005 to April 2006. Each deposit was less than $10,000, the threshold at which federal law requires banks to report cash deposits.

While he was in Iraq in 2005, Fuller was assigned as a project purchasing officer with 5th Civil Affairs Group, officials said.

Fuller is an F-5 pilot assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 401, the Corps’ aggressor squadron based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, said Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon, an air station spokesman.

The case stems from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, officials said.

Fallujah birth defects investigated

An investigation of a rise in birth defects in Fallujah is underway, which is being attributed to the use of chemical weapons by British and American soldiers.

Public Interest Lawyers, representing Iraqi families, has requested that the Ministry of Defence release information regarding whether any British soldiers were involved in the fighting or helped to supply the use of prohibited weapons during the seize on Fullujah in 2004, and any legal advice given to Tony Blair at the time. During the attack, coalition forces are alleged to have used white phosphorus, a modern form of napalm, and depleted uranium against the population. Iraqi families accuse the UK government to breaching international law, war crimes and failing to intervene to prevent a war crime.
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US army captain convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated to humanitarian work

Michael Dung Nguyen, 28, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to theft and money laundering charges in December.

The Oregon man, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, admitted to stealing more than $690,000 from Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds entrusted to him. The currency was intended as payment for security contracts as well as humanitarian relief and reconstruction programs.

US District Judge Ancer Lee Haggerty also ordered Nguyen to undergo mental health treatment and serve three years of supervised release after his term in jail.

The convict is also required to pay back $200,000 he spent on luxurious cars and other items in an attempt to hide the embezzled money.
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Washington Finally Feeling Drone War Backlash

Back in early 2009, when guys like David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum warned that the American drone war in Pakistan could create more terrorists than they kill, they were pilloried by the national security establishment for their views. Since the failed Times Square bombing — a terror attack allegedly in response to the drone strikes — Kilcullen and Exum’s take is quickly becoming conventional wisdom in Washington.

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US confronts its reputation abroad

New name for Iraq war: Operation New Dawn

Effective Sept. 1, the War on Iraq will acquire a new official moniker: “Operation New Dawn.”

Defense Secretary Robert Michael Gates announced the move Wednesday in a memo to Gen. David Howell Petraeus, chief of United States Central Command, that was first reported by ABC News.

In the brief, one-paragraph memo, a copy of which also went to Adm. Michael Glenn “Mike” Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gates said the name change is designed to coincide with “the change of mission for U.S. forces in Iraq.”

“Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission,” Gates wrote. “It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq.”

United Nations report blasts US over human rights abuses

A United Nations report says the US has been violating basic human rights by kidnapping and holding terrorism suspects in secret detention centers during the past nine years.

The US is among dozens of countries that have kidnapped suspects, four independent UN rights investigators said in a year-long study based on flight data and interviews with 30 former detainees.

“On a global scale, secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem,” they wrote in the 226-page report which is expected to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

“Secret detention as such may constitute torture or ill-treatment for the direct victims as well as their families,” the report said.

Victims and their families deserve compensation and those responsible should be prosecuted, said the four independent investigators.

The UN report explained that the purpose of the secret detentions was to cover up torture and inhuman treatment of the detainees in an effort to obtain information or silent the subjects.

The rights investigators said running facilities such as those used by the Nazis, the Soviet gulag system and Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and ’80s, was banned under the internationally recognized laws laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

They also said establishment of secret detention could not be justified under any circumstances, including during states of emergency or armed conflict.
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‘Bomb detector’ maker Jim McCormick arrested

The director of a company which sold a bomb-detecting device to 20 countries, including Iraq, has been arrested.

ATSC‘s Jim McCormick, 53, was detained on Friday on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation, Avon and Somerset police said. He has since been bailed.

It comes after a BBC investigation alleged the ADE-651 did not work.

Earlier, the British government announced a ban on the export of the device to Iraq and Afghanistan, where British forces are serving.

Anti-theft tag

Mr McCormick has said the device, sold from offices in rural Somerset, used special electronic cards slotted into it to detect explosives.

But a BBC Newsnight investigation reported that a computer laboratory said the card it examined contained only a tag used by shops to prevent theft.

There are concerns the detectors have failed to stop bomb attacks which have killed hundreds of people.

The device consists of a swiveling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. It does not operate by battery, instead promotional material says it is powered only by the user’s static electricity.

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Psychiatric disorders spiral among US troops

A new study indicates US troops who were withdrawn from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for medical reasons were increasingly evacuated for psychiatric reasons.

Psychiatric disorders rose from 2004 to 2007, despite an increased focus on treating mental health problems, the research study revealed on Friday.

Only 14 percent of troops taken out of combat operations on medical grounds during the four-year period were because of a combat injury, AFP reported.

The biggest single cause for a pullout was ‘musculo-skeletal’ and joint problems, which accounted for 24 percent of medical evacuations.

In contrast, psychiatric grounds accounted for five percent of evacuations in Iraq and six percent in Afghanistan in 2004; these figures rose to 14 and 11 percent respectively in 2007.

Researchers also said that repeat missions and declining public support for the Iraq war may partly account for the rise.

The study drew on data from more than 34,000 US personnel who had been evacuated to the main US military receiving hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.  [ Probably the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. ]

Steven P. Cohen of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore led the research team.

Troops admit to abusing prescription drugs

About one in four soldiers admit to abusing prescription drugs, most of them pain relievers, in a one-year period, according to a Pentagon health survey released Wednesday.

The study, which surveyed more than 28,500 U.S. troops last year, showed that about 20 percent of Marines had also abused prescription drugs, mostly painkillers, in that same period.

The findings show the continued toll on the military from fighting wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Those wars have required troops to serve multiple combat deployments.

“We are aware that more prescription drugs are being used today for pain management and behavioral health issues,” Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force, said Wednesday. “These areas of substance abuse along with increased use of alcohol concern us.”

The survey showed that pain relievers were the most abused drug in the military, used illicitly at a rate triple that of marijuana or amphetamines, the next most widely abused drugs.

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Army General Adds Pregnancy to List of Reasons to be Court-Martialed

A U.S. Army general in northern Iraq has added pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could be court-martialed.

The new policy, outlined last month by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo and released Friday by the Army, would apply to both female soldiers who become pregnant on the battlefield and the male soldiers who impregnate them.

Civilians reporting to Cucolo also could face criminal prosecution under the new guidelines.

Army spokesman George Wright said the service typically sends home from the battlefield soldiers who become pregnant. But it is not an Army-wide policy to punish them under the military’s legal code, he said.

However, division commanders like Cucolo have the authority to impose these type of restrictions to personnel operating under their command, Wright said.

Cucolo oversees forces in northern Iraq, an area that includes the cities of Kirkuk, Tikrit and Mosul. His Nov. 4 order was first reported by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

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Capturing Osama Bin Laden Is the Last Thing That Americans Want

Where is bad guy Osama bin Laden? This question still takes the minds of US political and military elite. US National Security Advisor James L. Jones believes that the prime suspect of 9/11 attacks is hiding in Pakistan. Defense Secretary Robert Michael Gates later said that the Pentagon did not have the information to confirm the statement, for terrorist No. 1 would have been caught otherwise.

A special report from the US Senate said that the US military had a chance to capture Bin Laden alive, but they missed him during the first months of the Afghan campaign in 2001. Former Defense Secretary Donald Henry Rumsfeld and General Tommy Ray Franks are said to be accountable for that mistake.

According to US intelligence, Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora caves in the east of Afghanistan. US troops were prepared to storm the caves in December of 2001, but suddenly canceled the operation following the orders from Rumsfeld and Franks, who later said that they should concentrate their efforts in other directions.

The authors of the report believe that Bin Laden and his associates used the opportunity to escape to Pakistan, where he can probably be staying still. The officials, who prepared the report, referred to the information announced by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

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US exports ‘violence’ to Latin America, says Fidel

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says the US has never ceased its “exceptional cynicism” towards the revolutionary nations in Latin America over the past 50 years.

In an article titled “Is there any margin for hypocrisy and deceit?” Castro investigates Washington’s approach toward the Latin American nations especially those that opt to challenge its hegemony in the region.

Fidel writes that “the empire,” as he calls it, has altered its strategies over the years, but has never changed its objectives while facing revolutionary nations in the region.

He goes on to describe “violence” as the most exported products by the United States’ capitalist society during the last half a century.

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Lawyers: Green should have had military trial

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A former Army soldier who raped a girl, 14, and killed her and three family members in Iraq challenged his convictions Monday, saying he was wrongly tried in a civilian court and should have faced a military trial.

In a 71-page appeal filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, attorneys for Steven Dale Green are seeking to have the law used to prosecute him — the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act — overturned.

The law, passed in 2000, allows the federal government to try former soldiers, their spouses and contractors in civilian courts for crimes that happened overseas.

“That’s the overarching issue,” said Green’s defense attorney, Darren C. Wolff of Louisville.

Green is also contesting whether the military validly discharged him before he was charged in civilian court.

A message left for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville, which prosecuted Green, was not immediately returned Monday. Prosecutors have until Jan. 5 to file a response.

A jury convicted Green, 24, a former 101st Airborne Division soldier, in June of raping and killing 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. He also was convicted of killing three of her family members in the March 2006 attack.

Green, of Midland, Texas, is serving a life prison sentence without parole. The other four soldiers charged in the plot faced military trials, known as a court martial.

Federal Public Defender Frank Heft wrote that Green faced more severe punishments in civilian court, which violated his rights to equal protection and due process.

Much like the strategy at trial, the appeal does not contest Green’s guilt in the crimes near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

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‘Multi-National’ to drop from U.S. unit names in Iraq

BAGHDAD — One of the last vestiges of the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq will soon be retired.

As part of a consolidation of its command structure ahead of next year’s planned troop reductions, the U.S. military will drop the “Multi-National” name from its unit designations starting in January. The last non-U.S. troops, from the United Kingdom, Australia and Romania, left Iraq in July.

Under the plan, the top two levels of the U.S. command, known as Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Corps – Iraq, will be merged and renamed United States Forces-Iraq. The U.S. command that oversees training of Iraqi forces will also fall into the new command.

The four U.S. operational commands in the country, now known as Multi-National Divisions, will also drop the “Multi-National” from their names.

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500 Million New Terrorists!

The world is becoming less safe by the day. Before the end of November, half a billion new terrorists will be added to the list kept by the US government.

On November 30, one day before the Treaty of Lisbon is scheduled to take effect, the ministers of justice of the European Union‘s 27 member states will sign yet another security agreement with the US. It is supposed to be an essential weapon in the global “War on Terrorsim” the US claims to be fighting.

Under the new agreement, the US government will get access to all the banking data of all Europeans. This means that from December 2009, every single financial transaction done by every single European banking customer will come under the scrutiny of the US authorities. Henceforth, whenever the US government suspects a European “citizen” of supporting terrorism, it can request all his or her banking data, including all bank statements as well as any and all personal data connected with the account.

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US lawmakers call for ending Cuba travel ban

Two key American lawmakers say that Washington should allow its citizens to travel to Cuba to help promote ‘democratic reforms’ in that country.

Veteran Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Congressman Howard Berman insist that the Cuba travel ban has been obsolete and should be discarded as a foreign policy measure.

Lugar, the top Republican on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Berman, who chairs the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that legislation to overturn the ban has been introduced in both chambers of the US Congress.

“US law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend or foe, with one exception, Cuba. It’s time for us to scrap this anachronistic ban, imposed during one of the chilliest periods of the Cold War,” said Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Congressman Howard Berman, a joint statement.

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15-fold rise in birth defects in Fallujah

There has been a 15-fold rise in birth defects and early childhood cancers in the war-ravaged enclave of Fallujah, the site of two major battles after the Iraq invasion, doctors say.

Dr. Ayman Qais said that before the war began in 2003, there were sporadic numbers of deformities in babies, but now the frequency of deformities “is increasing dramatically.”

“We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies,” Dr. Qais added.

Doctors of Fallujah’s over-stretched health system say they are unsure of what is behind the spike in birth defects, but suggest it may be linked to the toxic materials left over from the fighting.

The city was the site of some of the worst fighting of the war, including a battle in which the United States admitted to using white phosphorus in 2004.

There have also been unconfirmed reports that US troops used depleted uranium munitions in Fallujah.
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America Owned by Its Army

Paris, November 3, 2009 – It is possible that the creation of an all-professional American army was the most dangerous decision ever taken by Congress. The nation now confronts a political crisis in which the issue has become an undeclared contest between Pentagon power and that of a newly elected president.

Barack Obama has yet to declare his decision on the war in Afghanistan, and there is every reason to think that he will follow military opinion. Yet he is under immense pressure from his Republican opponents to, in effect, renounce his presidential power, and step aside from the fundamental strategic decisions of the nation.

The officer he named to command the war in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal, demands a reinforcement of 40 thousand soldiers, raising the total U.S. commitment to over 100 thousand troops (or more, in the future). He says that he cannot succeed without them, and even then may be unable to win the war within a decade. Yet the American public is generally in doubt about this war, most of all the president’s own liberal electorate.

President Obama almost certainly will do as the the general requests, or something very close to it. He can read the wartime politics in this situation.
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Military Children in Crisis

A seven-year-old second-grader attempted suicide while his father was serving yet another tour in Iraq. Seven years old. Seven. His mother was one of half a dozen military spouses I have spoken with about soldiers’ kids who have attempted suicide during their fathers’ deployments.

When I was seven, it was 1972, and there were 69,000 US troops in Vietnam. Men were still being drafted and deployed, but not my dad. So I was spared the circumstances that led a seven-year-old to try to kill himself.

Three-plus decades ago, parents were exempt from conscription because of overwhelming concern about the harmful effects of deployment on children. Today, roughly half of the troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are parents, many of whom have served multiple tours. Repeat deployments stress soldiers and escalate the likelihood of psychological injuries that can last for a lifetime. There is a small, but rapidly growing, body of evidence suggesting that the same is true of their children.

The Associated Press reported that “After nearly eight years of war, soldiers are not the only ones experiencing mental anguish…. Last year, children of US troops sought outpatient mental health care 2 million times, double the number at the start of the Iraq war…. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, inpatient visits among military children have increased 50 percent. (“War stresses military kids,” July 12, 2009.)

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs latest research on mental health issues of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that “the prevalence of new diagnoses in early 2008 had nearly doubled from four years prior in 2004.” (“Study reveals sharp rise in diagnoses of disorders,” Stars & Stripes, July 18, 2009.)

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US soldiers shoot and kill Iraqi shoe thrower

American soldiers have killed an Iraqi civilian after he hurled his shoe at their military convoy in the central city of Fallujah.

Witnesses say US troops opened fire on Ahmed Latif, who was mentally disturbed, after he insulted the soldiers as they patrolled in the centre of the city.

US troops, however, claim that they acted in self-defense since they had assumed that their convoy was being targeted with a ‘suspected grenade’, AFP reported.

“Positive identification of the attacker was made, and US forces fired in self-defense wounding the attacker,” said the US Army in a statement. Ahmed Latif, 32, died of gunshot wounds in the hospital.

The violent incident came only one day after Muntazer al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former US President George W. Bush last December, was released from a Baghdad prison after serving a nine-month term.

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US military pulls plug on largest prison in Iraq

The American army has decided to shut down Camp Bucca in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra as it moves to release thousands or transfer them to Iraqi custody before the year end.

All the remaining 180 detainees of the facility, located just north of the Kuwaiti border, were transferred to US military’s two remaining detention facilities — Camp Taji and Camp Cropper, just outside Baghdad.

The isolated Camp Bucca began as a small tent camp for prisoners of war just after the US-led 2003 invasion. Over the next six years, it grew into a 40-acre desert prison filled with row after row of watchtowers, barbed-wire-topped fences and metal trailers or plywood barracks to house detainees.

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Ex-captain pleads guilty to $39 million fuel theft plot

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Federal prosecutors say a former U.S. Army captain has pleaded guilty to taking part in a plot to steal $39 million worth of fuel from the Army in Iraq.

Robert Young, 46, a U.S. citizen who lived in the Philippines, pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiracy and theft of government property. He will be sentenced Oct. 30.

In his plea, Young admitted that between October 2007 and May 2008, he and his conspirators, claiming to represent Defense Department contractors in Iraq, used fraudulent documents to steal aviation and diesel fuel from Camp Liberty in Iraq.

Prosecutors say as a result of the scheme, Young received about $1 million in personal profits.

2008 DHS Stats on Refugees and Asylees Available

Refugees and Asylees: 2008

“The United States provides refuge to persons who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution through two programs: one for refugees (persons outside the U.S.) and one for asylees (persons in the U.S.). This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report provides information on the number of persons admitted to the United States as refugees or granted asylum in the United States in 2008. A total of 60,108 persons were admitted to the United States as refugees during 2008. The leading countries of nationality for refugees were Burma, Iraq, and Bhutan. During 2008, 22,930 individuals were granted asylum, including 12,187 who were granted asylum affirmatively by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and 10,743 who were granted asylum defensively by an immigration judge during removal proceedings. The leading countries of nationality for persons granted asylum were China, Colombia, and Haiti.”

Some Reports from the Congressional Research Service

“Mexico’s Drug-Related Violence,” May 27, 2009.

“The 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) ‘Swine Flu’ Outbreak: U.S. Responses to Global Human Cases,” May 26, 2009.

“The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” updated May 15, 2009.

“USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives After 15 Years: Issues for Congress,” May 27, 2009.

“Airport Improvement Program (AIP): Reauthorization Issues for Congress,” May 29, 2009.

“Identity Theft: Trends and Issues,” May 27, 2009.

“The State Secrets Privilege and Other Limits on Litigation Involving Classified Information” (pdf), May 28, 2009.

“Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001″ (fact sheet), updated June 3, 2009.

“Political Turmoil in Thailand and U.S. Interests,” May 26, 2009.

“The 2009 Influenza A(H1N1) ‘Swine Flu’ Outbreak: An Overview,” May 20, 2009.

“Defense: FY2010 Authorization and Appropriations,” May 8, 2009.

“Medical Marijuana: Review and Analysis of Federal and State Policies,” March 31, 2009.

Soldiers plead guilty in theft operation

Two logistics soldiers assigned to a military transition team in Iraq pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing about $1.2 million in U.S. equipment and selling it to a local businessman.

Capt. Elbert George, 36, and Sgt. 1st Class Roy Greene, 32, admitted in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to stealing equipment from a Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office yard and pocketing at least $400,000 in illegal profits.

According to a statement of facts presented in court, George was the MTT team’s logistics officer and responsible for ensuring the flow of supplies.

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U.S. holds journalist without charges in Iraq

Reuters cameraman Ibrahim Jassam has been held since September. The U.S. military rejected a court order to release him, saying he is a ‘high security threat.’ No evidence has been presented.

Reporting from Baghdad — The soldiers came at 1:30 a.m, rousing family members who were sleeping on the roof to escape the late-summer heat.

They broke down the front door. Accompanied by dogs, American and Iraqi troops burst into the Jassam family home in the town of Mahmoudiya south of Baghdad.

“Where is the journalist Ibrahim?” one of the Iraqi soldiers barked at the grandparents, children and grandchildren as they staggered blearily down the stairs.

Ibrahim Jassam, a cameraman and photographer for the Reuters news agency, stepped forward, one of this brothers recalled. “Take me if you want me, but please leave my brothers.” The soldiers rifled through the house, confiscating his computer hard drive and cameras. And then they led him away, handcuffed and blindfolded.

That was Sept. 2.

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Onward, Christian Soldiers

Does finding out that a top military intelligence official was sending Donald Rumsfeld briefings emblazoned with religious crusader talk about the invasion of Iraq, like “open the gates so that the righteous may enter” fit “the left’s narrative that the Iraq war must have been conceived with an ulterior motive — war for oil, war for Israel, war because Bush heard God’s voice in his head”?

uh, yeah.

Robert Draper of GQ has a searing profile of ex-Sec Def Rumsfeld and how he botched the 2003 war of choice against Iraq. It includes a description of Gen. Glen Shaffer’s daily briefings to Rumsfeld:

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Abeer means “fragrance of flowers”

See also:

US Army media brief for rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girl and family by 101st soldiers, 2006

Green trial prosecutors tell of gruesome scene

Jury set for Steven Dale Green, charged with raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family

US Army media brief for rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girl and family by 101st soldiers, 2006

Download document here.

See also:

Green trial prosecutors tell of gruesome scene

Green trial prosecutors tell of gruesome scene

PADUCAH, Ky. — A former U.S. Army soldier accused of raping an Iraqi girl and killing her and her family was upset after losing multiple friends in combat but didn’t appear to struggle more than anyone else in the unit, one of his commanding officers said.

Steven Dale Green, 23, of Midland, Texas, faces more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault and four counts of murder, stemming from the March 2006 attack in Iraq’s so-called “Triangle of Death.” He has pleaded not guilty to killing the 14-year-old girl, her mother, father and 6-year-old sister.

Colonel Todd Ebel told jurors on the first day of the trial Monday that he spoke with Green in December 2005 about losing soldiers to enemy attacks. But, Ebel said, beyond frustration, the private didn’t appear unfit to remain in the Army.

“Yes, he was frustrated with Iraqis,” Ebel said. “Mostly, he was frustrated with the idea that we can’t recognize [insurgents]. They don’t wear uniforms.”

Ebel was expected to open testimony Tuesday morning, when Green’s attorneys would get a chance to question him about how the unit was handled and the conditions under which they served.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that Green and three other soldiers attacked the family at their home near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Skaret said Green fatally shot the rest of the family before becoming the third soldier to rape the teenager.

After he shot the girl in the face several times, Green used kerosene to set fire to her body, Skaret said.

See also: Jury set for Steven Dale Green, charged with raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family

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“Don’t enlist, resist”

Minnesota saw a wave of dramatic anti-war protests at military recruitment centers, April 23. The call of the Twin Cities based Anti-War Committee for April 23 to be Zero Recruitment Day was taken up by a host of anti-war groups that joined together, visibly opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, exposing recruiter lies and preventing military recruiting that day.

Despite Obama’s promise to end the war on Iraq, he has committed to keeping 50,000 troops there through 2011. Meanwhile he plans to greatly expand the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and send an additional 17,000 troops. These war plans depend on new recruits for the armed forces. The current economic crisis makes it easier for recruiters to prey on poor and working-class youth who are given false promises of economic benefits.

Marie Braun, an activist with the Twin Cities Peace Campaign explained the purpose for the day’s actions, “We are here to say that we are sick of war. We are sickened by the news coming out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan about continuing death and destruction at the hands of our government. We are appalled by the tactics of recruiters who use lies, innuendo and false promises to get our young people to fight, kill and die in wars that have little or nothing to do with democracy, national security or the welfare of our citizens.”

Six Zero Recruitment Day actions occurred at military recruiting stations throughout Minnesota, five in the Twin Cities metro area and one at the Minnesota State University in Mankato.

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US suicidal veterans surpassing KIAs

At least 13 American soldiers have committed suicide in March as post traumatic syndrome is increasing suicide tendency among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

The latest figure has brought to 56 the number of US soldiers’ suicide cases in 2009, according to figures released by the US Army, a press TV correspond reported on Monday.

According to US medics, with 23 soldiers committing suicide in January, the number of those killed themselves was higher than the number of soldiers killed in combat-related incidents.

Eighteen other suicide cases were also reported in the US military in February.

See also:

Corps Sees Dramatic Spike in Suicides

Marine suicide rate up, prompting more prevention training

Army recruiting stand-down ordered after suicides

Army Manual Promotes Christianity to Combat Epidemic of Suicides

4 Recruiter Suicides Lead to Army Probe

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The Weapons That Kill Civilians — Deaths of Children and Noncombatants in Iraq, 2003–2008

Armed violence, such as that in the ongoing conflict in Iraq, is a threat to global health.1 It causes serious injuries and deaths of civilians, makes orphans of children, traumatizes populations, and undermines the ability of communities to provide adequate medical care even as it dramatically increases health care needs. Moreover, indiscriminate or intentional harm to civilians violates humanitarian principles and basic human rights. Believing that a careful assessment of the effects of different kinds of weapons on civilians in Iraq was needed, we used the database of the Iraq Body Count (IBC), a nongovernmental organization that documents civilian violent deaths in Iraq,2 to determine the nature and effects of various weapons on civilians in Iraq. The patterns we found convince us that documenting the particular causes of violent civilian deaths during armed conflict is essential, both to prevent civilian harm and to monitor compliance with international humanitarian law. Unlike surveys that do not distinguish between Iraqi combatants and noncombatants among the dead,3 the large-scale IBC database attempts to specifically identify civilians, whose deaths are of particular concern from a public health and humanitarian standpoint.1,4 Recent findings from the Iraq Family Health Survey support the validity of the IBC database by showing similar regional trends and distributions of violent deaths.3 The IBC has monitored direct civilian deaths daily since the Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, with the invasion by U.S.-led coalition forces. IBC sources are primarily reports in the professional media, including reports translated from Arabic, supplemented by reports from hospitals and morgues. Deaths are added to the database when sources report the number of civilians killed, with time and location described adequately to avoid double counting. Also recorded are the perpetrator, the target, the weapons used, the primary sources, and whenever possible, each victim’s age, sex, occupation, and name. Although the IBC records injuries as well as deaths, we limited our analysis to deaths, which are more consistently reported by the media.2 “Civilian” deaths include those of most women, children under 18 years of age, noncombatants, and police officers killed during regular, but not paramilitary, activities, since police are considered part of normal civil society. Database entries are systematically error-checked by three IBC volunteers before publication on the IBC Web site (www.iraqbodycount.org).2

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Jury set for Steven Dale Green, charged with raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family

PADUCAH, Ky. — The case of a former soldier charged with raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family was ready to go to trial after a jury of 15 women and three men was seated Friday.

Former Pfc. Steven Dale Green, 23, is the first ex-soldier to be charged as a civilian under a 2000 law that allows U.S. authorities to prosecute former members of the military for crimes overseas.

Opening statements were scheduled to begin April 27 in federal court in Paducah, following a break.

Attorneys selected the jury from a pool of 80 prospective candidates to hear 17 counts including murder and rape against the Midland, Texas, man. He is being tried in Paducah as he was last stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder, Green was discharged from the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division two months after the alleged attack, which occurred in March 2006.

Prosecutors say he took part in the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the shooting deaths of her family in Mahmudiyah, Iraq.

Green, who is accused by prosecutors of being a central figure in the rape and killings, has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say they’ll ask for a death sentence if Green is convicted.

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Soldier gets life for murder, conspiracy

VILSECK, Germany — An Army master sergeant convicted of murder in the 2007 killings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqis has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

A jury of eight Army officers and noncommissioned officers handed Master Sgt. John Hatley the sentence on Thursday. The 40-year-old soldier will also have his rank reduced to private, forfeit all pay and receive a dishonorable discharge.

Hatley was convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy in the execution-style killings. But the jury on Wednesday found him not guilty of obstruction of justice in the incident and not guilty of premeditated murder in the January 2007 death of an Iraqi insurgent.

According to testimony this week and at previous courts-martial, four Iraqis were taken into custody in spring 2007 after an exchange of fire with Hatley’s unit and finding weapons in a building where suspects had fled.

See also:

Bragg soldier gets 35 years in 4 deaths

US Soldier Gets Life for Iraqi Slayings

Soldier confessed that he shot a bound and blindfolded Iraqi prisoner point-blank in the back of the head

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US opens another prison for Iraqis

The American military has inaugurated a 27-million-dollar prison in northern Iraq which is capable of holding 3,000 detainees.

According to an American military statement on Sunday, the jail was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers at Chamchamal in the autonomous Kurdish region, 70 kilometers south of Sulaimaniyah, in the space of two years.

The statement further said that the prison was built on the site of a federal jail that had existed under the regime of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The existing facility had to be redesigned “to make it a modern correctional facility that complies with both international and US Coalition requirements for the humane treatment of inmates,” the statement added.

The new prison will have a staff of 1,200, including a large force of guards to house 2,000 medium security inmates and 1,000 high security prisoners.

See also: Iraq to re-open Abu Ghraib prison

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Bragg soldier gets 35 years in 4 deaths

VILSECK, Germany — A second U.S. soldier was convicted Monday of murder in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees in 2007 and sentenced to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty at his court-martial.

Wearing his dress uniform and speaking crispy and confidently, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo of Fort Bragg, N.C., pleaded guilty to charges of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder at the proceeding at the U.S. Army’s Rose Barracks in southern Germany.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in the incident, which occurred while he was deployed to Iraq. Military prosecutors dropped that charge.

See also:

US Soldier Gets Life for Iraqi Slayings

Soldier confessed that he shot a bound and blindfolded Iraqi prisoner point-blank in the back of the head

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US flag-burning marks war anniversary

BAGHDAD (AP)– American flags were set on fire Friday to chants of “no, no for occupation” as followers of an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric marked the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war.

In five other Iraqi cities, supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also either marched or stood in protest after prayers to demand the release of their allies detained at Iraqi and U.S.-run prisons.

The protests came as a suicide bomber in Fallujah killed an Iraqi police officer and five other people, including civilians, in an attempted attack on the home of the local leader of Sunni security volunteers who turned against al-Qaeda.

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U.S. Military Contractor Allegedly Hacked Teens to Extort Nude Photos from Them

An army contractor who worked on a U.S. military base in Iraq hacked into the computers of teenage girls to harass and extort sexually explicit images from them, authorities allege. Police say he and an accomplice targeted some 4,000 young women around the world, including six Florida teens — one of whom he cyber-stalked for years, beginning when she was 14, and showed up at her work place.

According to the complaint filed in the case (.pdf), the alleged perpetrator, Patrick Connolly, 36, planted malware on victims’ computers to spy on them and threatened them and family members with harm and public embarrassment if they didn’t send suggestive images or perform sexually for him in front of their web cameras. He also allegedly used his personal Paypal account to purchase and send a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans and Louis Vuitton handbag to one of his victims.

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US forces in Iraq kill 12-year-old girl

American troops stationed in Iraq have justified the killing of a girl by saying she was in close vicinity of an accelerating vehicle.

The 12-year-old girl was standing 100 meters behind a vehicle accelerating toward an Iraqi police station in Hurriya in Nineveh province, according to a US military news release.

The girl died on Monday.

“The coalition forces and Iraqi police waved and yelled for the vehicle to stop,” reads part of the news release. “After the vehicle failed to stop, coalition forces fired two warning rounds.”

Troops attempted to treat her at the scene, but she died while being transported to a hospital.

The release said Col. Gary Volesky, commander of US forces in Nineveh province, “expresses his condolences to the girl’s family for the unfortunate accident.”

According to the release, a probe has been launched into the incident. There has been no news of what happened to the vehicle.

Photo:

An Iraqi girl looks on as the shadow of a US soldier on a routine patrol is seen on a wall that reads “for sale” in Arabic. US troops in Iraq are currently tasked with preparing Iraqi security forces to establish calm upon their departure.

CBS will not have to hand over Hadithah tapes

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — CBS News has won a battle with Marine Corps prosecutors who wanted unaired footage of a “60 Minutes” interview with the key defendant in the killing of 24 Iraqis in 2005.

The North County Times reports on its Web site that a military judge at Camp Pendleton on Thursday denied a subpoena seeking all unaired footage from an interview with Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Meeks ruled that forcing the network to hand over that material would place the network in the role of being a government tool.

Wuterich is charged with nine counts of voluntary manslaughter and other allegations. They stem from his role leading a squad of Marines in an assault after a bombing in the Iraqi city of Hadithah that killed one of his men.

Major RAND study with 300 interviews: Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nov 2008

This major November, 2008 RAND Corporation study on intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, conducted 300 interviews at all levels with US, UK and Dutch intelligence officers and diplomats.

The 318 page document could be described as part of the “Pentagon Papers” for Iraq and Afghanistan. It was confidentially prepared for the Pentagon’s Joint Forces Command and focuses on intelligence and counterinsurgency operations.

Marked “For Official Use Only” study was distribution restricted to a select group of Coalition war partners and Israel.

The study is a notable news and policy source, not for its arguments or conclusions, but rather for its wealth of candid and revealing interview quotes which are spread throughout the document, but especially in the 200 page appendix.

The material has been verified, and we ask readers to go through the document to extract key quotes for their communities. There is a wealth of interview quotes on almost every aspect of the wars. The authors of the quotes, ranging from the UK Ambassador and the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency to on the ground intelligence officers, can be discovered via the footnote appendix.

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Blackwater founder, CEO resigns

(CNN) Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater Worldwide security firm, announced Monday he has resigned as head of the company, recently renamed Xe.

Prince, in an e-mail to employees and independent contractors, said Danielle Esposito will become chief operating officer and executive vice president. Esposito has worked for the firm and its partners for nearly 10 years.

Blackwater/Xe’s president, Gary Jackson, is also retiring, Prince said.

The position of CEO will remain open, the company said.

See also:

Report: State Department & Blackwater Cooperated to Neutralize Killings

Accused Blackwater Shooters Face Trial in D.C.

Sources: Blackwater guards indicted

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food

Blackwater May Face Criminal Charges, Hefty Fines Over Arms Shipments

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Officer gets 25 years in detainee’s death

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — A military jury in Kentucky has sentenced an Army officer to 25 years in prison for shooting and killing an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation.

A spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division says the panel sentenced 1st Lt. Michael Behenna of Edmond, Okla., on Saturday. Behenna was convicted a day earlier of murder and assault but acquitted of making a false statement.

Behenna faced up to life in prison on the murder conviction.

Behenna testified he was trying to defend himself when he shot Ali Mansour Mohammed and that the detainee reached for his gun in a secluded railroad culvert near Beiji, Iraq, in May.

The 101st Airborne Division spokesman Maj. Johnpaul Arnold says the defense has filed a mistrial motion.

See also: Soldiers to be arraigned in detainee murder

Marine suicide rate up, prompting more prevention training

Reporting from San Diego — Alarmed by a rising suicide rate among their troops, Marine officials announced Friday that all Marines, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, will receive a two-hour suicide-prevention presentation next month.

Commanders have been ordered to record three- to five-minute videos as part of the presentations.

The sessions will remind troops to watch for warning signs among their buddies and to immediately inform their superiors if they believe a Marine is thinking of suicide.

See also:

Army recruiting stand-down ordered after suicides

Army Manual Promotes Christianity to Combat Epidemic of Suicides

4 Recruiter Suicides Lead to Army Probe

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Not Blackwater, but Xe, as in Xena Warrior Princess

Blackwater has gone to ground–sort of.  In a move to apparently distance itself from its image as reckless cowboys that was etched into the world’s mind from the September 2007 Baghdad Nisoor Square shoots, Blackwater USA is once again rebranding itself.  It has changed its name (and presumably legal structure) to Xe.  (Pronounced, “Z” as in “Xena, Warrior Princess.”)

The world’s largest private security company that once boasted on its website, “We are not simply a ‘private security company.’ We are a turnkey solution provider for 4th generation warfare,” has taken yet another step to distance itself from its swashbuckling past.   Due to its aggressive, yet effective tactics, it became the world’s poster child for irresponsible guns for hire, an ironic reputation since Blackwater was actually one of the most professional of the hundred plus private military organizations.

See also:

Report: State Department & Blackwater Cooperated to Neutralize Killings

Accused Blackwater Shooters Face Trial in D.C.

Sources: Blackwater guards indicted

Security firms told they lose immunity in Iraq: official

Blackwater Busted? Six Guards May Be Charged in Iraq Massacre

New Blackwater Iraq Scandal: Guns, Silencers and Dog Food

Blackwater May Face Criminal Charges, Hefty Fines Over Arms Shipments

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Soldier convicted in gang beating death

BERLIN — A U.S. soldier has been found guilty of participating in gang initiation rituals that caused the beating death of another soldier near a base in Germany.

Pvt. Bobby D. Morrissette was also convicted on charges of impeding an investigation, impeding a trial by court-martial and willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, the military said in a statement Thursday. He was sentenced to 42 months in confinement and a bad conduct discharge.

The charges relate to the beating death of Sgt. Juwan Johnson, of Baltimore on July 4, 2005, at a park pavilion in Kaiserslautern, where U.S. forces have a base.

The Army released no further details on the incident, but at the trial of others involved in the case witnesses testified that at least six members of the Gangster Disciples gang beat Johnson during a gang initiation ritual.

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