Military immigrant program halted

Military immigrant program halted

The Pentagon is shown. | Getty

Even a change that only affects a small group has created a bureaucratic headache. | Getty

A popular military enlistment program for immigrants with specialized skills is now stuck in bureaucratic limbo — after the Pentagon announced last month it would begin allowing some young immigrants without legal status into the program.

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Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Decision in the Blackwater Trial

U.S. Senate Documents

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Decision in the Blackwater Trial

October 22, 2014

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued the following comment Wednesday after the verdict was handed down in the Blackwater trial. A jury found one Blackwater security guard guilty of first-degree murder and three other guards guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Leahy is the author of the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), a bill he introduced in July that would close a gap in current law and ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas can be prosecuted in the United States for criminal acts they commit abroad. Currently, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act provides criminal jurisdiction over Defense Department employees and contractors, but it does not explicitly cover people working for other federal agencies, such as the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security, unless they are operating in support of a DOD mission. CEJA would fill this gap and provide federal jurisdiction over all government contractors and employees.]

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Schakowsky Statement on Blackwater Guilty Verdict

Schakowsky Statement on Blackwater Guilty Verdict

October 23, 2014

CHICAGO – On Wednesday a federal jury returned guilty verdicts for four former Blackwater security guards charged in the September 16, 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad.  The defendants were charged with the deaths of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others at Baghdad’s Nisour Square.  Rep. Jan Schakowsky released the following statement in response:

“I have consistently raised concerns about the events in Nisour Square since this tragedy occurred over 7 years ago, and I welcome this verdict.   It is an important demonstration of our nation’s commitment to justice and accountability, and I congratulate the Department of Justice for its persistence in this case. Continue reading

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US Needs Mercenaries to Continue Interventionist Foreign Policy: Former Marine Captain

US Needs Mercenaries to Continue Interventionist Foreign Policy: Former Marine Captain

"For domestic political reasons US ground troops are not practical or an option, so security contractors, as they are not 'troops,' are usable," former marine captain said

04:21 24/10/2014
Tags: mercenaries, military, Blackwater, Academi, United States

WASHINGTON, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – The United States uses private defense contractors to serve military first expansionist policies, former marine captain and State Department officer Matthew Hoh told RIA Novosti. Continue reading

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22 October 2014 STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN, HOLDS STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING, AS RELEASED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT – NEWS BRIEFING

Political Transcripts by CQ Transcriptions

22 October 2014

QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq —

  1. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — and the last war? Four former workers for Blackwater were —

  1. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — convicted today, three of manslaughter, one of murder. What message does this send to those in Iraq, those across the greater Middle East, about the U.S. being able to hold people accountable for their bad behavior overseas?

  1. HARF: Well, we certainly respect the court’s decision in this case. And as you all probably know, but following the tragedy there, the Department took a number of steps to strengthen oversight of private security contractors, such as moving quickly to improve investigative policies and strengthening procedures for use of force and less-than-lethal force by security contractors. So again, aren’t going to have more comment on the court’s decision other than we respect it.

QUESTION: But in terms of the U.S.’s reputation, obviously, Nisour Square was a huge hit for the U.S.’s reputation. Is this verdict something that this building can point to when engaging with other countries on – look, if people do something wrong, they can and will be held accountable? Continue reading

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Blackwater verdict stuns NH dad

October 23. 2014 10:10PM

Blackwater verdict stuns NH dad

ROCHESTER — Brian Liberty said he was shocked when he learned Wednesday that his son had been convicted in the 2007 killing of at least a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

He remains proud of his son, Evan Liberty, whom he believes has received a huge injustice.

“He’s a tough guy,” Brian Liberty said of the former Marine. “He seems to be taking it better than the rest of us.” Continue reading

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Irony Alert: Booz Allen Wins Cybersecurity Contract

Irony Alert: Booz Allen Wins Cybersecurity Contract

Christopher Lane/AP

October 23, 2014 1 Comment

Booz Allen Hamilton won yesterday a $6.6 million task order for continued support to the Defense Department’s Chief Information Officer Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Support program through Sept. 30, 2015.

It goes to show that Defense has no hard feelings toward Booz Allen even though one of its employees, Edward Snowden, used his position to pilfer and distribute an unprecedented number of highly sensitive intelligence documents.

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Legal questions loom in Blackwater convictions

WASHINGTON

Congress and courts alike could end up chasing after the high-profile convictions of four ex-Blackwater Worldwide guards now facing decades in prison.

In the wake of the Blackwater trial verdicts, a North Carolina congressman hopes to revive legislation clarifying U.S. authority to prosecute non-defense contractors for overseas crimes. Defense attorneys, meanwhile, will aim their upcoming appeals at the lingering legal ambiguity.

“Unfortunately, the case exposed a major loophole in our criminal justice system that has allowed U.S. contractors overseas to operate in a legal gray area, undermining our commitment to the rule of law and compromising our broader foreign policy goals,” Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said Thursday.

Put another way, there’s a fog of law inside the fog of war.

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In Iraq, Relief After News of Blackwater Convictions

BAGHDAD — Adel Ali Mehdi was tending his refreshments kiosk on Baghdad’s Nisour Square on Thursday when one of his regular customers stopped by with some important news: After seven years, Blackwater security contractors who had opened fire on the square had been convicted.

Seventeen Iraqis were killed in that fusillade, and the customer, Hassan Jaber Salman, was among more than 20 wounded. Mr. Mehdi, from his kiosk, had seen the whole thing unfold. Both men became witnesses for American prosecutors, and the trial ended on Wednesday with convictions of four of the former guards.

“Alhamdulillah,” Mr. Mehdi, 53, said to Mr. Salman. “Praise be to God.”

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Days After Former CEO Calls For Private Guards In Iraq, Blackwater Is Found Guilty Of Iraqi Massacre

Days After Former CEO Calls For Private Guards In Iraq, Blackwater Is Found Guilty Of Iraqi Massacre

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Days After Former CEO Calls For Private Guards In Iraq, Blackwater Is Found Guilty Of Iraqi Massacre

Iraq Blackwater

CREDIT: AP

Blackwater Worldwide guards were found guilty Wednesday of killing 14 Iraqis and wounding 17 others after they fired machine guns and threw hand grenades into Baghdad’s Nisour Square seven years ago. Jurors ultimately rejected the guards’ claims that they were acting in self-defense, as none of the victims were insurgents. The conclusion of the 11-week trial brings a close to one of the darkest chapters of the Iraq War.

Despite the new spotlight on Blackwater’s botched operation, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security group is just as eager as ever to send hired hands into Iraq.

“If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team,” Prince wrote earlier this month in a column on his new company’s website.

“The longer ISIS festers, the more chances it has for recruitment and the danger of the eventual return of radical jihadists to their western homelands. If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” he concluded.

The “old Blackwater team” disbanded long ago — and now, with this ruling, is even more maligned. But is there any chance that the U.S. government will call on private security to help fight its battles abroad? Continue reading

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