U.S., Israel Start Defense Drill

From The Wall Street Journal:

TEL AVIV — The U.S. and Israeli militaries began a combined air-defense exercise on Thursday involving about 1,000 American soldiers and simulating a scenario in which U.S. forces deploy to Israel to help defend the country against incoming missiles.

The three-week drill, the fifth since 2001, is part of a growing partnership between the two militaries that has coincided with rising fears in Israel about Iran’s growing arsenal of missiles and nuclear ambitions.

“In time of need the Israel Defense Forces will protect our country, however, if decided, our defenses will be enhanced by the United States’ capabilities,” Israeli Air Defense Corps commander Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish told a news conference.

Iran and Israel both confirmed Thursday that representatives of their governments attended a conference in Cairo last month focused on global nonproliferation issues, a rare joint appearance by officials from the enemy states. Continue reading

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Report: Cut retirement to pay for weapons

There is just something wrong with this type of logic. They would rather spend more money on weapons than on the people who they send overseas to fight these illegal wars.

From Military Times:

A new report from an independent think tank suggests that drastic cuts are needed in personnel benefits in order to pay for weapons modernization.

Some recommendations from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments might be welcomed by service members and their families, such as a proposal to cut the cost of permanent change-of-station moves by extending tour lengths by 50 percent.

But other recommendations strike at the heart of the military pay and benefits system. The report by Todd Harrison says the promise of retired pay after 20 years is an example of the generous benefits that led to financial problems in the auto industry, requiring a government bailout.

Continue reading

Military lawyer says Defense Department ignored calls for war crimes investigation

From Raw Story:

WASHINGTON—The military lawyer that represents an Afghan youth who spent roughly seven years in U.S. custody says the Defense Department has repeatedly ignored his requests for a war crimes investigation into the detainee’s treatment.

Air Force Maj. David Frakt, the attorney for former detainee Mohammed Jawad, says over the past 16 months he sent multiple memos to Defense Department and military leaders asking them to account for what a military judge called “abusive conduct and cruel and inhuman treatment” of his client.  Jawad, who was arrested when he says he was 12 years old for allegedly tossing a grenade at U.S. military, was moved from cell to cell 112 times during a 14-day period to disrupt his sleep patterns, according to military documents. Frakt said he believes the treatment constituted torture, violated the Geneva Convention, war crime laws and Defense Department regulations.

“Why has no one–no one has been held remotely accountable for this,” Frakt said in an interview with Raw Story. “This is a mandatory investigation. It’s not optional, you can’t just sweep it under the rug…but they did as far as I can tell.”

As first reported in The Washington Independent, Frakt wrote in memos to Defense Department officials: “Accordingly, I believe I have an affirmative obligation to report the incident to my chain of command,” listing military rules that mandate reporting possible war crimes to a superior.

Both a federal district court judge and a U.S. military commission judge have questioned the use of sleep deprivation, also called the  “frequent flyer” program, on Jawad.

When military officials changed Jawad’s cell 112 times between May 7 and May 20, 2004, roughly once every three hours, military Judge Stephen Henley, a U.S. Army colonel ruled “the scheme was calculated to profoundly disrupt his mental senses.” Although officials were allowed to use such tactics during interrogation, Jawad’s attorney Frakt said he was not interrogated months before or months after the sleep deprivation occurred.

Judge Henley also said in the September 2008 ruling that when Jawad was subjected to sleep deprivation, he “was of no intelligence value to any government agency” so “the infliction of the ‘frequent flyer’ technique upon the Accused thus had no legitimate interrogation purpose.” Henley added that it violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture agreement signed by the U.S. and that the sleep deprivation tactics were used on Jawad, even after the Joint Task Force Guantanamo commander had ordered such techniques stopped.

The Washington Independent notes that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel itself allows anywhere from 48 to 180 hours of sleep deprivation, or 2 days to 11 days for “high-value detainees,” but “never condoned 13 days of straight sleep deprivation on anyone, let alone someone like Jawad, who was at best an al-Qaeda or Taliban foot soldier.”

Judge Henley concluded: “Those responsible should face appropriate disciplinary action, if warranted under the circumstances.”

Frakt wrote his first memo on May 29, 2008, and sent it to the chief defense counsel at the Office of Military Commissions. After four months passed without a response, Frakt sent a similar memo via e-mail to the Commander in charge at the U.S. Southern Command post, Joint Task Force for Guantanamo Bay on October 7, 2008. He also copied four lawyers in the Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel on the e-mail.

In January 2009, Frakt again e-mailed the commander in charge at the U.S. Southern Command post, Joint Task Force for Guantanamo Bay, added a captain’s name to the list and included the same four lawyers from the Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel on the email.

Officials with the Defense Department and the U.S. Southern Command acknowledged requests for comments from Raw Story on Monday, but after three days time, no one has been able to say whether there has been any investigation into the Jawad case whatsoever.

This summer, US District Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered Mohammed Jawad’s release saying the government’s case against him is “full of holes.” Jawad now plans to sue U.S. government for his alleged mis-treatment.

Frakt told Raw Story “the failure to investigate war crimes is, in itself, a war crime.”

“Was anyone questioning this?” Frakt said. “Is this fair, is it humane, is this right? It makes me wonder about the moral fiber of those involved.”

G20 cops dressed in camo ’snatch’ protester

From Raw Story:

By Muriel Kane
Friday, September 25th, 2009 — 11:10 am

G20 security officials took responsibility Friday afternoon for a video that seemed to depict US troops ‘kidnapping’ a protester.

The military was not involved in the incident, but G20 security did acknowledge that “law enforcement officers from a multi-agency tactical response team” had detained a protester they said was believed to be vandalizing a store.

Video posted at YouTube shows onlookers calling out “what the fuck” and “what the fuck is wrong with you?” as people in camo uniforms haul a protester along by his collar, shove him into the back seat of a car, and rapidly drive off.

Officials with G20 security released the following statement to Raw Story and other media outlets:

Story continues below…


//

“Military members supporting the G20 Summit work with local law enforcement authorities but do not have the authority to make arrests. The individuals involved in the 9/24/09 arrest which has appeared online are law enforcement officers from a multi-agency tactical response team assigned to the security operations for the G20. It is not unusual for tactical team members to wear camouflaged fatigues.  The type of fatigues the officers wear designates their unit affiliation.

Prior to the arrest, the officers observed this subject vandalizing a local business.  Due to the hostile nature of the crowd, officer safety and the safety of the person under arrest, the subject was immediately removed from the area.”

The video was featured this morning at the Drudge Report under the heading, “SEE U.S. MILITARY SNATCH PROTESTER… .”

At the liberal website Democratic Underground, one commenter asserted, “This is staged” and then claimed, “Those were not the uniforms National Guard/military were wearing yesterday. Neither was that the vehicles they were driving. This was just a bunch of idiots trying to make some point.”

According to news reports, “U.S. authorities assembled a security force of nearly 5,000 people to safeguard the event, including 2,500 National Guard troops, 1,200 state troopers, 875 Pittsburgh city police and small groups of officers from other agencies.”

Police and National Guard troops headed off an unauthorized march by some 1000 protesters on Thursday and eventually forced the crowd to scatter.

The police reaction to the protests has been marked by what antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan calls “profound overkill.”

“I have been to dozens of protests, large and small, since my son was killed in Iraq, but I have never seen anything like today,” Sheehan writes. “There were easily two cops/soldiers for every one of us protesters or maybe even 3 to 1.”

Sheehan also witnessed the National Guard troops working with the local police and comments, “Seeing the National Guard troops, fresh from Iraq, broke my heart the hardest. I also talked to dozens of them, none had ever heard of posse commitatus, and asked them if my son, their brother, died in Iraq so they could steal the rights of his mother. Most of them wouldn’t even look at me.”

These videos are from YouTube, posted September 25, 2009.

Sex acts ‘required for promotion’

From ABC News:

Private security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul were pressured to participate in naked pool parties and perform sex acts to gain promotions or assignment to preferable shifts, according to one of 12 guards who have gone public with their complaints.

In an interview with ABC News for broadcast tonight on the “World News with Charles Gibson,” the guard, a U.S. military veteran, said top supervisors of the ArmorGroup were not only aware of the “deviant sexual acts” but helped to organize them.

Watch Brian Ross’ full report tonight on “World News with Charles Gibson” at 6:30pm.

“It was mostly the young guys fresh from the military who were told they had to participate,” said the guard, who talked on a phone hook-up arranged by the Project on Government Oversight, which first revealed photographs of the parties.

Read the rest:
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8474937

US trebles MOP “bunker buster” bombs order, wants them fast

From Debkafile:

In view of new information about Iran and North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities, the US Air Force has asked to speed up the delivery of 10 to 12 giant Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker buster bombs, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford.

Unusually, DEBKAfile‘s military sources report, the order has been trebled in less than a year after Congress was first asked for $68 million to buy four MOPs by the US Pacific Command which covers the Korean area and US Central Command which oversees Iran. On Aug. 3, the Pentagon announced a decision to accelerate delivery and again on the 30th for the order to be filled as soon as possible by July 2010 at latest.

Gen. Shackelford said: “These are purchases beyond just those needed to test their capability. In other words (the military is seeking to) build a small inventory of, I believe, 10-12 bombs.”

The MOP, using GPS and inertial guidance to find its target, can penetrate 200 feet underground, and is the last of a line of American super bombs.

UK ‘can’t find’ $13bn in military hardware

From ABC News (h/t BlackListedNews):

Posted Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:16pm AEST
Updated Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:15pm AEST

Auditors have been unable to find 6.6 billion pounds ($13 billion) worth of British military equipment including vehicles, weapons and radios used by troops, a report said Thursday.

The government has ordered a shakeup at the Ministry of Defence after the auditors found holes in its record keeping, the Financial Times reported.

The findings raised concerns about whether critical resourcing decisions for Afghanistan have been taken by MoD officials without knowing where billions of pounds of equipment, including machine guns, night vision goggles as well as spare parts, is located, the newspaper said.

The National Audit Office has refused to sign off on MoD accounts because of an “inadequate level of evidence” that 6.6 billion pounds of its assets existed, the FT said.

The MoD told the newspaper the assets were “never physically lost”.

The report comes amid a furious debate in Britain about whether troops fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have adequate resources as the number of soldiers killed in the conflict rises.

Read it here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/20/2661663.htm?section=world