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Army drops suspension of contractor in criminal probe

The Army reversed the suspension Nov. 15, allowing Camille Chidiac to bid for new federal contracts, including an extension of the propaganda contract in January.

Photo Leonie Industries’ Website

Tom Vanden Brook – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON — December 30, 2012 – The Army has lifted its suspension of the owner of its top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan, despite the Pentagon’s ongoing criminal investigation against him for late tax payments, treatment of his Afghan employees and an online smear campaign he launched against USA TODAY.

The Army had suspended Camille Chidiac, co-owner of Leonie Industries, in May after he admitted to setting up disparaging social media and web sites against two journalists from the newspaper. At the time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered “appropriate action” taken against Chidiac, according Pentagon press secretary George Little, who called his actions “intolerable.”

The Army reversed the suspension Nov. 15, allowing Chidiac to bid for new federal contracts, including an extension of the propaganda contract in January. The Army, in a statement from spokesman Matthew Bourke, decided that Chidiac should be reinstated because the Army concluded that he conducted the smear campaign on his own time without Leonie’s resources. Chidiac put his ownership stake in a trust in an agreement reached with the Army. That prompted the Army to lift its suspension of Chidiac, according to Bourke.

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U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan kills 4 troops (Updated)

Four U.S. Service Members Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash

Stars and Stripes reports the soldiers on board the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed last Thursday were with 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Hammerhead out of Hawaii, flying for the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan.

Those killed were: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Johnson, 27, San Diego; Spc. Dean Shaffer, 23, Pekin, Ill.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Viray, 25, Waipahu, Hawaii; and Spc. Chris Workman, 33, Boise, Idaho. ~KOHN 2

The family of recent Pekin high school graduate Dean Shaffer has been notified that he was killed Thursday night in a military helicopter crash in southwestern Afghanistan while serving in the U.S. Army, a close friend of Shaffer said Friday. ~Perkins Daily Times

Chris Workman was among four soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan Thursday. ~Idaho Statesman

Karen Parrish – (American Forces Press Service) – WASHINGTON, April 20, 2012 – Defense Department officials said today the four International Security Assistance Force members killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan yesterday were Americans.

“Regrettably, we can confirm that four U.S. service members lost their lives in this crash,” George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told Pentagon reporters today.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby, who returned this week from approximately two months’ duty in Afghanistan, said no information is yet available on the mission the helicopter crew was performing.

“We still believe that weather was the principal cause [of the accident],” Kirby said.

He added that as with all such incidents, the crash remains under investigation until all possible details are determined.

“They’re going to look at all factors, but right now it appears that weather was the principal cause,” Kirby said.

He said defense officials are not aware of any enemy fire reported in the area where the crash took place. (Click HERE for original article)

(Associated Press) –  April 19, 2012  -   A U.S. Army helicopter crashed on a nighttime mission in southwestern Afghanistan on Thursday, and initial reports from the scene indicated that as many as four soldiers may have been killed, a U.S. defense official said.

In a brief official announcement, the American military command in Kabul said there were “no confirmed reports” of casualties “at this time.” The announcement did not specify the nationality of the helicopter crew and said the cause of the crash was unknown.

Two U.S. defense officials said four U.S. troops were aboard the helicopter, identified as an Army Black Hawk, and one official said initial word from the scene was that officials “don’t expect” that any of the four survived. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because details were still being collected and the families of the helicopter crew had not yet been notified. Unspecified weather difficulties may have played a role in the crash, the two officials said, but it also was possible that enemy action was factor.

Last year, a military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 38 U.S. and Afghan troops, including 17 who were part of the Navy SEALs unit that killed Osama bin Laden. More recently, a January helicopter accident killed six members of the international military force in Afghanistan.  (Click HERE for article)

Military embarrassed by Colombia prostitution scandal (Updated)

The Secret Service agent at the center of the Colombia prostitution scandal has been identified as Arthur Huntington, sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Friday.

According to the sources, Huntington was the agent in a seventh-floor hotel room in Cartagena who had a dispute over pay with an escort. ~CNN

The identities of two Secret Service supervisors who have been pushed out of the agency in the wake of a prostitution scandal have been revealed.

Lawrence Berger, the general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said Thursday he is representing Greg Stokes and David Chaney. ~Secret Service supervisors involved in Colombia scandal identified

The Secret Service has yanked the security clearances of 11 members accused of bringing prostitutes to a hotel in Colombia ahead of last week’s pan-American summit, government officials with knowledge of the investigation said Monday. ~ CNN

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that the military “let the boss down.”

Robert Burns – (The Associated Press) – April 16, 2012 – The top U.S. military officer said Monday the nation’s military leadership is embarrassed by allegations of misconduct against at least 10 U.S. military members at a Colombia hotel on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit over the weekend.

“We let the boss down,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference. He said he regretted that the scandal, which also involved 11 Secret Service agents accused of cavorting with prostitutes at the hotel, diverted attention from Obama’s diplomacy at a Latin America summit.

“I can speak for myself and my fellow chiefs: We’re embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia, though we’re not sure exactly what it is,” Dempsey added.

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Court to Decide if Military Rape Victims Can Sue Defense Dept. (Updated)

While military service is both an honor and a duty, and carries with it substantial risk to life and limb, the risk of sexual assault and abuse is one risk that no service member should fear. But with a third of all women and possibly a quarter of the men experiencing some type of sexual abuse, or trauma, it is clear that changes have to be made.~Catholic Online

This week, a landmark hearing will decide whether 28 women and men have a case against the military for alleged inaction on rape. If not, hundreds of plaintiffs are lining up for the next one. ~The Daily Beast

Noel Brinkerhoff – (AllGov) – November 17, 2011 – A federal judge (Judge Liam O’Grady) in Virginia is expected this week to rule whether 28 current and former military personnel can sue the Department of Defense for not taking action to curb rape in the armed services.

Filed against former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, the lawsuit contends that Pentagon leaders allowed the violation of soldiers’ constitutional rights by failing to curb sexual assaults.

The 28 plaintiffs consist of 25 women and three men, all of whom allege they were raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers, and that the Defense Department failed to do anything after the attacks.

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Dover mortuary landfill dumping: Congressman asked Pentagon about practice in Sept.

Craig Whitlock -  (Washington Post) – November 11, 2011 – A New Jersey congressman wrote directly to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta two months ago to seek details about the Dover Air Force Base mortuary’s practice of dumping troops’ cremated body parts in a landfill but says he never received a reply.

The congressman’s letter raises questions about when Panetta learned that the mortuary disposed of cremated portions of remains at the King George County, Va., landfill. Panetta has said he was unaware of the dumping before this week.

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