Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Robert_A._McDonald_Official_PortraitWe have another stolen valor controversy this week. This time it involves Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald who was recorded telling a homeless man in passing that he was a member of the “special forces.” People are calling for his resignation. However, as someone who has written a great deal about Stolen Valor, I disagree that this is a serious case of misrepresentation or that McDonald should resign. He did not have stolen valor. He has more than enough. What happened in this case was a mistake but there is still a difference between a venial and moral sin . . . even in cases of valor.

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bergdahl150124201815-nr-dnt-harlow-sajida-al-rishawi-explainer-00001707-large-169The White House again seems to be struggling with barriers of both language and logic as many raise comparisons between the controversial Bergdahl swap and the effort this week of Jordan to swap a terrorist for one of its downed pilots with Islamic State. During a week where one of the five Taliban leaders released by the Administration has been found trying to communicate with the Taliban, the Jordanian swap has reignited the criticism of the swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, which violated federal law and released Taliban leaders with long and bloody records. The White House seems to be trying to argue that the Taliban are not terrorists in direct contradiction to its prior position that they are indeed terrorists. It shows the fluidity of these terms and how the government uses or withdraws designations as terrorists to suit its purposes. The familiarities between Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban appear to be something in the eye of beholder or, to quote a certain former president, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

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85906-songhua-starboard77606-wutaishan-anhui-44-sternThere was a curious confrontation between the New Zealand navy this month and three notorious boats illegally poaching in the waters near Antarctica. The Navy caught the boats red-handed poaching and using illegal nets. The Navy called over for the three rust buckets to stop the illegal operation and the boats simply refused. The Navy called over again that it wanted to board to check their documentation and the boats said know. They simply continued to poach in front of the Navy and then the New Zealanders let them leave without firing a shot. This was called a victory by the New Zealand Navy but I am not sure why.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

It is unfortunately not surprising that anything that the CIA does should be considered suspect.  When the CIA recently came under fire for allegedly spying on Senate computers, no one, except the Senators who were spied on were surprised.  Now that Director John Brennan has completed his internal “investigation” into the matter, the truth has come out.  John Brennan says he and the CIA did nothing wrong! (more…)

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Melting Base1

I have previously written about the waste of billions of dollars by the government without any significant discipline of government officials. We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to officials to constructing huge buildings immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used. Much like our useless campaign against poppy production where we continued to spend billions because no one had the courage to end or change the program. We now have another such example from Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko about a $500,000 facility that was built and just left to “melt away” within four months of being built. Of course, contractors and corrupt Afghan officials have made huge amounts of money from such waste. Billions have disappeared while our own science, educational, and infrastructure programs are being cut. The flow of U.S. money however has not ended. After a trillion dollars, our government is on course to spend billions more in the country.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty, (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

In our sometimes upside down world, it can seem that the lives and secrets of our intelligence service employees and their agencies are worth more than the lives and physical and mental well-being of the countless prisoners who were tortured by the CIA .  That is the same torture that was authorized and approved at the highest levels of our government.

Let’s also not forget the many instances of allegedly criminal activity by large banks and their employees that resulted in civil fines or no action at all, notwithstanding the lives that were shattered in the meantime.

Recently it was disclosed that the Department of Justice and the FBI have recommended that Gen. David Petraeus be criminally prosecuted for allegedly passing his classified CIA email account and exposing state secrets to the biographer/author he was having an affair with.  This is the very same Department of Justice, along with the Obama Administration that claims it did not have enough evidence to file charges against admitted torturers and those that authorized the torture and destruction of evidence. (more…)

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220px-Recep_Tayyip_ErdoganLike most of the world, we have watched the rapid decline of civil liberties in Turkey after the election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his coalition of Islamic parties. Just last month, we discussed the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdoğan. calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdoğan. The situation is even more dire for journalists who have found themselves threatened or arrested for reporting on Erdogan or his cronies. Now, Turkish police have arrested Dutch reporter Frederike Geerdink on terrorism charges. Erdoğan responded with one of his signature delusional statements, saying that this is just one more “false” report from Western media since it is about terrorism not journalism. It is his statement about the record of Turkey on press freedoms that truly takes Erdoğan’s menacing comments into the realm of madness.

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