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Breathtaking fraud in Afghanistan

Florida Times-Union
October 28, 2011

Corruption is part of the culture in Afghanistan, and the United States has been the great enabler.

That is the only conclusion that can be reached by an impressive report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting, the result of three years of work.

A total of $12 million every day for 10 years has been lost in fraud and waste.

In an era when the United States is facing great financial challenges, this is an outrage.

At least $31 billion has been lost in waste and fraud, perhaps as much as $60 billion. Why the great disparity? Because the financial controls are basically nonexistent. And the actual documents of the investigation have been sealed for 20 years as if this is the investigation into the assassination of a president. …

This is like doing business with Tony Soprano.

For instance, the U.S. pays Afghan contractors to provide trucking services. Then they hire subcontractors. The subcontractors then pay insurgent groups for protection because insurgents either control the roads or have the ability to attack. …


US military bases in Iraq down to 15

Press TV
October 27, 2011

An American general says there are only 15 US military bases left in Iraq, which were once up to 505, as the foreign forces prepare to leave the Arab country by the end of the year.

“US Forces-Iraq (USF-I) now resides on 15 bases — nine of those are US, and six are partnered (with Iraqi forces),” said Brigadier General Rock Donahue, head of USF-I’s engineering directorate, AFP reported.

All of the remaining bases must be handed over to Iraqi forces and US troops must leave Iraq by the end of the year, under the terms of the 2008 bilateral security accord, known as the Status of Forces Agreement.

However, the US looks unwilling to leave the Middle Eastern country and its officials are searching new pretexts to prolong their stay in Iraq.

Twelve US lawmakers on Wednesday wrote to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services that the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will be seen as a “strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East.”

The letter was signed by top Republican Senator John McCain, Independent Joe Lieberman and 10 other Republican senators.

There are currently about 39,000 US soldiers in Iraq, according to the US military.

US President Barack Obama announced on October 21 that all US troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. …

Read on: www.presstv.ir/detail/206848.html

US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,481

Washington Post
By Associated Press
October 25, 2011

US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,481 Tuesday, according to Associated Press count

As of Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, at least 4,481 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes nine military civilians killed in action.

At least 3,525 military personnel died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

The AP count is three fewer than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 32,219 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department’s weekly tally.


US Military Deaths in Afghanistan at 1,700

ABC News
By The Associated Press
October 25, 2011

As of Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, at least 1,700 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP count is six less than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

At least 1,425 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 102 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 12 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is the same as the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 14,611 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-military-deaths-afghanistan-1700-14811327

Last Cold War-era B53 nuclear bomb dismantled in Texas

BBC News
October 25, 2011

The last of America’s most powerful Cold War-era nuclear bombs – the B53 – has been dismantled in Texas.

Experts have separated around 300lb (136kg) of high explosives from the bomb’s uranium “pit”.

Weighing 10,000lb, the B53 was the size of a minivan and said to be 600 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

It was first put into service at the height of the Cold War in 1962, and remained in the US arsenal until 1997.

The bomb was designed to hit targets deep underground, such as bunkers in which military and civilian leaders might be sheltering.

Carried by B-52 bombers, the “bunker busters” used five parachutes to land softly on their targets before detonating a nine megaton explosion, in effect simulating an earthquake.

They have been superseded by bombs that burrow into the ground and then explode.

The first B53s were destroyed in the 1980s but several remained in service until 1997, when they were all retired. …

Read on: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15453872

Virus strikes US drone fleet

ABC News
October 9, 2011

A computer virus has hit the US Predator and Reaper drone fleet that Washington deploys to hunt down militants, logging the keystrokes of pilots remotely flying missions, Wired magazine reported.

The virus was first detected about two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, but it had not halted missions flown remotely over Afghanistan and other warzones from Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, Wired said on Friday (local time).

No classified information was believed to have been lost or sent outside the network, though the resilient virus resisted several attempts to remove it.

“We keep wiping it off and it keeps coming back,” a source familiar with the network infection told the US magazine.

“We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”

Military network security specialists said it remained unclear whether the virus was intentional and how far it had spread, but they were certain it had infected Creech’s classified and unclassified machines.

Secret data may have leaked out and reached someone outside military officials.

The US military does not hide its own drone flights in Libya Afghanistan, in contrast to the CIA’s covert missions to take out Al Qaeda extremists in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

The drones have become a critical weapon of choice for the United States in fighting militants abroad. …

Read on: www.abc.net.au/news/2011-10-09/computer-virus-hits-us-drone-fleet/3403024

Ex-CIA chief acknowledges open secret — drones

Yahoo! News
AFP – October 7, 2011

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday acknowledged what has long been an open secret — that the CIA deploys armed Predator drones to hunt down Islamist militants.

The US government officially declines to admit to the spy agency’s drone strikes, but Panetta — who served as Central Intelligence Agency director until taking over the Pentagon in July — made two casual references to the CIA’s use of robotic aircraft during a visit to US bases in Italy.

“Having moved from the CIA to the Pentagon, obviously I have a hell of a lot more weapons available to me in this job than I did at CIA — although Predators aren’t bad,” Panetta told an audience of sailors at the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet headquarters in Naples.

Later at a joint US-Italian air base in Sigonella, Panetta thanked air crews for their role in the NATO air campaign over Libya as he stood in front of a Global Hawk drone, a larger unmanned aircraft that flies at high altitude for surveillance missions.

Panetta cited the important role of drones in the Libya operation, including the Predator drones. …

Read on: http://news.yahoo.com/ex-cia-chief-acknowledges-open-secret-drones-184628103.html

Obama to meet with Czech Republic leader; follows Czech withdrawal from missile defense plans

The Washington Post
October 7, 2011

President Barack Obama will meet at the White House later this month with the prime minister of the Czech Republic.

Some in the Czech Republic have bristled at the Obama administration’s handling of its relationship with the Central European nation. And the Czechs withdrew this summer from U.S. missile defense plans out of frustration with their diminished role. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-to-meet-with-czech-republic-leader-follows-czech-withdrawal-from-missile-defense-plans/2011/10/07/gIQAvQp0SL_story.html

Judge Refuses to Sanction CIA for Destroying Torture Tapes

Wired News (blog)
October 6, 2011
By David Kravets

A federal judge won’t hold the CIA in contempt for destroying videotapes of detainee interrogations that included the use of a torture technique known as waterboarding, ruling instead Wednesday that the spy agency merely committed “transgressions” for its failure to abide by his court order.

Punishing the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of New York ruled, “would serve no beneficial purpose.” …

Alexander Abdo, an ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] staff attorney, blasted Hellerstein’s ruling.

… “The truth is that the CIA destroyed evidence of torture, and the destruction of this evidence has made it harder to hold high-level officials accountable for the abuse that they authorized.”

The CIA in 2007 admitted to destroying the tapes of interrogations of alleged al-Qaeda members Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. A special prosecutor last year found that CIA officials should not be charged for the tapes’ destruction. …

Read in full: www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/10/cia-dodges-contempt/

Four U.S. Navy ships to be stationed at Rota as part of missile defense system

Stars and Stripes
By Geoff Ziezulewicz
October 5, 2011

Four U.S. Navy ships will be stationed at Naval Station Rota, Spain, beginning in 2013 as part of a European missile defense system, defense officials announced Wednesday.

The ships will bring with them about 3,000 U.S. military personnel and family members, roughly doubling the American community in Rota, which presently serves as a logistics hub and has no ships home-ported there.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hailed the agreement as a first step in a 10-year European missile defense plan, as well as a vindication of the alliance’s relevance.

“This announcement should send a very strong signal that the United States is still continuing to invest in this alliance,” Panetta said. …

The ships will act as a floating defense shield against potential missile strikes from Iran.

All are equipped with the Aegis combat system, a complex array of sensors, communications and weapons systems that can detect, track and fire on incoming missiles and other threats, according to the Navy.

These ships make up the first piece of the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense plan, which the White House introduced in 2009 and NATO endorsed last year.

Last month, Turkey agreed to emplace U.S. early warning radar on its soil, facing Iran and linked to the Aegis system. …

Read in full: www.stripes.com/news/four-u-s-navy-ships-to-be-stationed-at-rota-as-part-of-missile-defense-system-1.157031