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Military sorts through material from Iraq drawdown

Posted December 28, 2011 By Forseti

Michael O’Connell – (Federal News Radio) – December 27, 2011 – The drawdown from Iraq is in its final stages. We know how the troops are getting home, but how is all the stuff getting back to the U.S?

“At the height of the drawdown, we were estimating that there were probably about 44,000 containers worth of stuff still in country that needed to come out,” said Twila Gonzales, director of disposition services at Defense Logistics Agency. “We’re talking about a wide variety of a lot of things, from nuts and bolts to MRAPs [mine resistant ambush protected armored fighting vehicles].”

Gonzales joined The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris on Friday to discuss DLA’s role in processing the material coming out of Iraq.

“The military services are responsible for determining how they’re going to get the stuff out of country,” Gonzales said. “The things that they feel that need to come out, the things that were going to be shifted over to the Iraqis and then those things that weren’t worth bringing out and would be taken care of in country.”

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Let them eat cake and other news

Posted June 5, 2011 By Forseti

Photo from: ZDNET

FOIA Friday: Inside Look at Formation of Gov’t Response to Press Inquiry about Human Trafficking
Nick Schwellenbach – (POGO) – June 3, 2011
This week’s document(s): internal U.S. government emails regarding allegations of human trafficking

Originating agency: Army and Air Force Exchange Service

An article in the latest issue of The New Yorker details the perils many “third country nationals”–mostly South Asians and Africans–face when working for U.S. government-funded contractors and subcontractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article tells the tale largely through the experiences of two Fijian women–Lydia and Vinnie–who worked for a foreign-owned subcontractor for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Under the auspices of AAFES, commercial stores, hair salons, movie theaters and other operations are conducted on military bases.

According to The New Yorker article, the Fijian women faced an array of abuses, such as being lured to Iraq under false pretenses (they believed they were going elsewhere in the Middle East and would be paid far more than they actually were), onerous work hours (12 hours a day for 7 days a week), oppressive contractual terms signed under duress, and, for one of the women, sexual assault by one of her supervisors. (Click HERE for article)

British spies swap cupcake recipes into al-Qaida magazine
Laura Rozen – (The Envoy) – June 3, 2011 – Readers of al-Qaida’s “Inspire” magazine got a tasty surprise thanks to British intelligence operatives: recipes, courtesy of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” for mini cupcakes.

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Failing those who protect our freedom…Again

Posted May 11, 2011 By Forseti

Veterans’ Mental Health Services Faces Overhaul

TIM HULL - (CN) – May 11, 2011 – Delays in the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues violate the constitutional rights of the nation’s soldiers, the 9th Circuit ruled, taking the rare step of ordering the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement sweeping changes in the way it handles referrals and claims that are too often “mooted by death.”
    
“When the government harms its veterans by the deprivation at issue here, they are entitled to turn to the courts for relief,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in a 103-page ruling Tuesday. “Indeed, our constitution established an independent judiciary precisely for situations like this, in which a vulnerable group, that is being denied its rights by an unresponsive government, has nowhere else to turn. No more critical example exists than when the government fails to afford its injured or wounded veterans their constitutional rights.
    
Wars, including wars of choice, have many costs. Affording our veterans their constitutional rights is a primary one.”
    
The advocacy groups Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth filed a class action against the VA in California District Court in 2007, seeking redress for the “unchallengeable and interminable delays” that many veterans face when applying for mental health care.
    
Up to 18 veterans commit suicide everyday, many of them while awaiting a health care referral that can take months, according to the ruling.
    
Some 1,467 veterans died while their appeals were pending in just six months from October 2007 to April 2008.
    
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Sacrificing Soldiers to protect the bottom line

Posted January 22, 2011 By Forseti

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than reading about a business who puts our soldiers in harms way for profit.  The individuals responsible for putting the men and women who serve our country at risk, need to have their US citizenship revoked and given the same considerations as those given to enemy combatants! ~Forseti

Cheap Steel Puts U.S. Soldiers’ Lives at Risk, Two Steel Distributors Say

TRACEY DALZELL WALSH – BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – January 21, 22011 - Lives of U.S. military personnel have been put at risk because distributors misrepresented the quality of their steel and “passed off inferior, untested steel as steel meeting certain industry specifications and thereby induced plaintiffs to unknowingly buy the inferior, untested steel at inflated prices,” two steel dealers says in a federal RICO complaint.

O’Neal Steel and Leeco Steel sued Worldwide Steel Unlimited, General Purpose Steel, Lance Chatkin and Bruce Adelstein in the 66-page complaint, alleging RICO violations, fraudulent misrepresentation, wantonness, breach of contract, and negligence.

O’Neal and Leeco say they sold some of the steel for use in military Humvees and armored vehicles that were deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel. They say the defective steel products have put the lives of U.S. military personnel at risk.

The steel distributors call the defendants’ operations “a criminal enterprise, as defined by RICO, controlled by two persons who, through two corporations and various employees, fraudulently represented the quality of goods sold to enrich themselves and the companies they controlled through unlawful means, including mail and wire fraud, in disregard of possible personal injury, death, property damage or cost and expense.”

The complaint continues: “By virtue of this criminal enterprise, Defendants passed off inferior, untested steel as steel meeting certain industry specifications and thereby induced Plaintiffs to unknowingly buy the inferior, untested steel at inflated prices. Plaintiffs, relying on Defendants’ representations and certifications that the steel was tested and met the specifications in Plaintiffs’ purchase orders, then unknowingly sold this inferior, untested steel to Plaintiffs’ customers as steel meeting the customers’ specifications for applications for which it was potentially dangerously unsuited. In fact, none of the steel sold by Defendants to Plaintiffs had been tested either by the manufacturer or independent laboratories as represented and certified by Defendants, and much of the steel did not in fact meet the specifications in Plaintiffs’ purchase orders as represented and warranted by Defendants. If the steel did meet the specifications, it was completely fortuitous and not by virtue of test results as represented by Defendants.

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Tsongas’ new law helps protect military rape victims

Posted January 3, 2011 By Ms Sparky

Alarms on sex assaults in military

Tsongas helps win law on handling of cases

By Bryan Bender – Boston.com – January 3, 2011

WASHINGTON — Soon after she arrived in Congress three years ago, Representative Niki Tsongas attended a luncheon in the Capitol honoring wounded soldiers. The Lowell Democrat, chatting with a military nurse who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, heard something that shocked and motivated her.

“She made the astonishing statement to me that she was more fearful of our own soldiers than she was of the enemy,’’ Tsongas recalled in an interview.

Tsongas, a member of the Armed Services Committee, embarked on a mission to protect the rising number of troops who report being sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers — a campaign that paid off with recent passage of legislation aimed at improving the Pentagon’s handling of rape and sexual abuse cases.

The measures force the military to adopt a better system for reporting and documenting sexual assaults, mandate that a single official have responsibility for making sure complaints are handled properly, and require the Department of Defense to devise ways of offering legal counsel to all victims, whether or not they want to report an assault.

“The military services have worked hard to address the issue, but we hear of the failings, especially the way in which victims are treated,’’ Tsongas said. “The numbers are alarming.’’

The Pentagon says there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults involving military members in fiscal year 2009. That was an 11 percent increase from 2008, according to the statistics. Read the remainder of this entry »

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