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The U.S.’s octogenarian Nazis problem looks a lot like its Guantanamo prisoners problem


A 2007 photo shows Guantanamo guards in a Camp 6.

The U.S.’s octogenarian Nazis problem looks a lot like its Guantanamo prisoners problem
By Max Fisher, Published: August 2 at 1:06 pm

There are four suspected Nazi war criminals currently living freely and openly in the United States, according to the Associated Press. Though the United States stripped them of citizenship and ordered them deported years ago, all four are still here. Their names and locations are well known, in some cases because they were drawing social security benefits. Their alleged crimes, however long ago, were brutal. But the United States can’t figure out what to do with them.

The cases of these four elderly suspects, and six others like them who died of old age while living in the United States, bear some striking similarities to that of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. There are also some big differences, of course, but how these two sets of cases converge and diverge can be revealing.

The United States, it turns out, is largely powerless to do anything about these suspected Nazi war criminals hanging out in American suburbs. There are two big reasons why, both of which could also be said to apply somewhat to Guantanamo prisoners.

The first reason is that the United States can’t put them on trial; their alleged crimes took place in central Europe, far outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Similarly, the United States believes it can’t try most or all of the detainees left in Guantanamo. The reasons are more complicated; Congress has passed legislation barring civilian trials or trials on U.S. soil for the detainees, leaving only military tribunals. But the tribunals are risky: they’ve actually proven much more likely to acquit the detainees of charges, in part because of Bush-era practices that many consider to be torture and thus make some evidence inadmissible. In many cases the United States doesn’t want to try the detainees because it believes they pose no threat and should be released.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 09:09 AM (0 replies)

In Afghanistan, a second Guantanamo


In Afghanistan, a second Guantanamo
By Kevin Sieff, Published: August 4

KABUL — Of all the challenges the United States faces as it winds down the Afghanistan war, the most difficult might be closing the prison nicknamed “The Second Guantanamo.”

The United States holds 67 non-Afghan prisoners there, including some described as hardened al-Qaeda operatives seized from around the world in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. More than a decade later, they’re still kept in the shadowy facility at Bagram air base outside Kabul.

Closing the facility presents many of the same problems the Obama administration has encountered in its attempt to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Some U.S. officials argue that Bagram’s resolution is even more complicated — and more urgent. The U.S. government transferred the prison’s Afghan inmates to local authorities this year. But figuring out what to do with the foreign prisoners is proving to be an even bigger hurdle to shutting the American jail.


With the United States’ nearly 12-year fight in Afghanistan due to end next year, the State Department and the Pentagon have been unable to come up with a strategy for the trial or repatriation of men from more than a dozen countries held at Bagram. Meanwhile, the population in the prison is growing because of the apprehension of foreign fighters in joint U.S.-Afghan Special Forces operations. The newest detainee was sent to Bagram last month.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 09:03 AM (0 replies)

U.S. plans to monitor Afghanistan relief projects remotely


U.S. plans to monitor Afghanistan relief projects remotely
Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 4:30 am
By Shashank Bengali / Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. military presence dwindles in Afghanistan, officials are finalizing a $200-million plan to use smartphones, GPS-enabled cameras and satellite imagery to monitor relief projects that will continue in areas deemed too remote or unsafe for Americans to visit.

The proposal underscores the rapidly diminishing American footprint in Afghanistan after nearly 12 years of war, and signals that more of the massive U.S. reconstruction effort there — long plagued by waste and weak oversight — will be monitored by Afghans, with U.S. officials forced to supervise from a distance.

Even as troops pull back, Obama administration officials said the United States must continue to finance development projects to bolster the Kabul government, whose budget remains almost entirely dependent on foreign aid.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which has poured more than $15 billion into Afghanistan since 2001, plans to spend billions more over the next decade on agriculture, energy, health, training and other programs carried out by American and Afghan contractors.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 08:33 AM (0 replies)

Veterans blame planes used to spray Agent Orange for illnesses


A dismantled C-123 is seen in 2010 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Ariz. Many of the Vietnam War-era planes were melted down, in part because of concerns about potential Agent Orange liability, Air Force memos show.

Veterans blame planes used to spray Agent Orange for illnesses
Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 4:30 am
By Steve Vogel / The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Nearly three dozen rugged C-123 transport planes formed the backbone of the U.S. military’s campaign to spray Agent Orange over jungles hiding enemy soldiers during the Vietnam War. And many of the troops who served in the conflict were compensated for diseases associated with their exposure to the toxic defoliant.

But after the war, some of the planes were used on cargo missions in the United States. Now a bitter fight has sprung up over whether those in the military who worked, ate and slept in the planes after the war also should be compensated. Two U.S. senators are now questioning the Department of Veterans Affairs’ assertions that any postwar contamination on the planes was not high enough to be linked to disease.

Complicating the debate is that few of the planes remain to be tested. In 2010, the Air Force destroyed 18 of the Vietnam-era aircraft in part because of concerns about potential liability for Agent Orange, according to Air Force memos documenting the destruction.

Citing tests done on some of the aircraft in the 1990s, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., have asked the VA’s Office of Inspector General to review whether the department is “inappropriately” denying disability compensation to veterans who claim they were sickened by postwar contamination.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 08:26 AM (5 replies)

Fleet hosting talk on use of drones


Fleet hosting talk on use of drones
By Gary Robbins7:33 p.m.Aug. 4, 2013

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, August 7th, about the benefits and risks of using drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles. The free public talk begins at 5:30 p.m. and will feature: Bob Osborne, the retired commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department's UAV program; Lucien Miller, the CEO of Innov8tive Designs in Vista, whose products include small UAVs; Keith McLellan, CEO of ROV Systems of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, which develops unmanned platforms for commercial use.

The panel discussion is sponsored by the Center for Ethics in Science & Technology, which bills the discussion this way: "New technologies can raise challenging ethical dilemmas, and drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are no exception. These aircraft may be autonomously operated by onboard computers or directed remotely by a human operator. UAVs are used for many purposes, ranging from crop dusting farmland to military operations. Join our UAV experts as we explore the benefits, perceived concerns, real risks, and public safety."

San Diego County is home to drone-makers Northrop Grumman and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, both of which produce UAVs used by the military and government.

Note to readers: It's unclear how much of the program will be devoted to ethical concerns about the use of drones. The three panelists represent companies or agencies that have promoted the use of drones.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 08:11 AM (0 replies)

The New Neros: The Koch Bros Profit from Burning the World Up (Halperin Infographic)


The New Neros: The Koch Bros Profit from Burning the World Up (Halperin Infographic)
Posted on 08/05/2013 by Juan Cole

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 5, 2013, 06:18 AM (4 replies)

Pentagon considers scrapping costly F-35 jet program


A Pentagon budget review reveals that the Pentagon is considering the cancellation of its $391.2 billion F-35 fighter jet program that already involves ten foreign countries

Pentagon considers scrapping costly F-35 jet program
By Ken Hanly
Aug 2, 2013 - 15 hours ago in Business

Washington - The documents were leaked but a briefing by Pentagon officials held recently laid out a number of ways that the Pentagon could cope with $500 billion in automatic budget cuts required over the next ten years. The slideshow showed the Pentagon was frustrated by the continued cost over-runs of the jet program.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the Pentagon might have to decide between a much smaller force or a decade-long holiday from modernizing its weapons systems and technology. Reuters reported that a decision to maintain a large military could result in terminating the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 program and also a new stealth long-range bomber.

The F-35 program is the most expensive weapons system ever. 2,443 aircraft are to be built. The price tag of $391.2 billion is already up 68 per cent from the original estimates in 2001. US Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan lashed out a Lockheed Martin and Pratt and Whitney for overcharging the US government. Bogdan is the head of the US Joint Strike fighter program.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to reporters on Wednesday and indicated that the Pentagon might have to decide between a "much smaller force" and a decade-long "holiday" from modernizing weapons systems and technology.

Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 3, 2013, 10:08 AM (4 replies)

Ash Carter Orders OSD Agency Cuts ASAP


Ash Carter Orders OSD Agency Cuts ASAP
By Colin Clark on August 02, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 3, 2013, 09:54 AM (0 replies)

Laid-off Boeing workers get much more help than others


Laid-off Boeing workers get much more help than others
By DOMINIC GATES — The Seattle Times
Published: August 3, 2013

Thanks to a federal program lined up by their unions, local workers laid off during the current dip in employment at Boeing Commercial Airplanes will enjoy a financial cushion that’s much, much plumper than what the average unemployed state resident gets.

“Compared to what Joe Worker gets when they get laid off, our members have a pretty extensive safety net,” said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

The U.S. Department of Labor has approved Boeing workers — union or nonunion, production workers or engineers — laid off between April 2012 and June 2015 for a package of benefits that includes drawing unemployment pay for up to 21/2 years, rather than the regular six months.

The Labor Department ruling also means that if laid-off Boeing workers need to travel, say to California, for a job interview, the government will reimburse 90 percent of the costs.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 3, 2013, 08:44 AM (3 replies)

No, says State Dept., Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Not Be Ending 'Very, Very Soon'


State Department backtracks following Kerry's comments on drone program

No, says State Dept., Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Not Be Ending 'Very, Very Soon'
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Published on Friday, August 2, 2013 by Common Dreams

Following comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, in which he said U.S. drone operations in Pakistan will end "very, very soon," the State Department immediately backtracked saying there is no time-line for such a plan.

Speaking at a press briefing following Kerry's comments made during a trip to Pakistan, Marie Harf—State Department Deputy Spokesperson—responded to questions over Kerry's comments by saying "there is no exact timeline to provide," and "Obviously, a lot of this is driven by the situation on the ground."

Pushing the issue further, one reporter posed: "Well, he (Kerry) says he hopes it’ll be very, very soon. Is there any reason to think that it will be very, very soon? Are you talking about ending it very, very soon?"

Harf responded without clarifying any foreseeable end point, insinuating that the drone program will continue until the U.S. believes it has defeated al-Qaida in the region:
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 3, 2013, 07:43 AM (0 replies)
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