FROM Doug Brooks
Iraq Wants Blackwater Security Guards Out All US diplomats are banned from leaving the Green Zone by land as Iraq's Prime Nouri al-Maliki Minister tells the State Department to fire Blackwater USA security guards. Iraq says ten civilians were killed on Sunday when Blackwater guards fired indiscriminately into a crowd. Blackwater says they shot at "armed enemies." It's the latest in a long series of incidents that have infuriated Iraqis from the streets to the corridors of power. Why is the State Department so dependent on private guards? Has it failed to exercise appropriate oversight?
Pentagon Increasingly Outsources War Effort The Army that cleaned latrines and did kitchen patrol is a thing of the past, with that kind of grunt work now performed by private contractors. But those aren't the only kind of tasks that have been outsourced by the Pentagon. The second largest force in Iraq is 100,000 private contractors, many performing jobs that soldiers used to do including that of providing security for construction projects, diplomats and visiting dignitaries. One of the largest is Blackwater USA , which has been called, "the world's most powerful mercenary army." Supporters of privatization say it will be critical to the US military for a long time to come. Critics call it "outsourcing war" behind the backs of the American people. Is it a good deal for taxpayers? Does it help soldiers do their real jobs? Is it a formula for conducting war without accountability?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?