FROM Robert Scales
The Armed Forces and Gender Identity "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed four years ago. This Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter extended the full range of discrimination protections to gays and lesbians . It's been a long time coming. But some 15,000 transgender troops are not included, often despite years of distinguished service — including combat. Many are recognized for who they are by their comrades and their commanders, but officially they are not "fit to serve." We hear about a historic moment—and who's being left behind.
The Political Battle over Going to War The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, and President Obama has formally asked it to authorize limited warfare against ISIL , the so-called Islamic State. Republicans and Democrats agree on his objective — but they're divided about his proposal. The President's military action would last for just three years with no "enduring" ground combat, but he'd also leave in effect the many options given George W. Bush after 911 . For conservative Republicans, there are too many limits. For liberal Democrats, there aren't enough. As positions are being staked out on Capitol Hill, what would it really take to destroy the Islamic State?
Airstrikes Just the Beginning of a Long Campaign President Obama says the participation of five Arab states in last night’s attacks in Iraq “shows the world that this is not America’s fight alone.” The President did not ask Congress for authority to strike targets in Syria. Instead, he relied on intelligence claims that the US was facing an attack on the homeland. Tomorrow, he’ll chair a meeting of the UN Security Council and make the case for a broader coalition.
General McChrystal Gets Called to Washington The latest Rolling Stone magazine calls the President's top commander in Afghanistan “ The Runaway General .” In a lengthy story, it reports that Stanley McChrystal “has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.” McChrystal has apologized for disrespectful quotes in the article, but he's headed to Washington for a face-to-face meeting tomorrow with the Commander in Chief. Today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President is “angry” and that he wants to know “ what McChrystal was thinking… ”
McChrystal Gets Called to Washington The latest Rolling Stone magazine calls the President’s top commander in Afghanistan " The Runaway General ." In a lengthy story, it reports that Stanley McChrystal, "has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: the wimps in the White House." McChrystal has apologized for disrespectful quotes in the article, but he’s headed to Washington for a face-to-face meeting tomorrow with the Commander in Chief. Today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president is "angry" and that he wants to know " what McChrystal was thinking… "
Military Gives a Second Look to Armored Trucks Mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles have been rushed into production by the Pentagon to replace Humvees in Iraq. Triple the size of Humvees, these MRAPs are designed to resist roadside bombs, the most common killer of American soldiers in Iraq. But some in the Pentagon worry that the vehicles are arriving too late and will be particularly ineffective in counter-insurgency tactics. We get two perspectives.
Private Security Contractors and Public Accountability Congressional investigators say Blackwater fired first in almost two-hundred shootouts , often failed to help injured civilians, and that many killings were covered up by state department officials. One criticism of Blackwater guards is that they interfere with the military’s counterinsurgency mission. Today’s hearing won’t be the last we hear of Blackwater and other civilian contractors.
Private Security Guards and the War in Iraq Blackwater USA —with more than a billion dollars in federal contracts—was on the carpet today on Capitol Hill. Congressional investigators claim that Blackwater guards shot first in almost 200 shootouts and killed innocent Iraqis in incidents the State Department helped cover up. Company founder Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal who has rarely been heard from in public, today told the committee that the shooting was always defensive, that 30 of its men have been killed and that that none of the VIP's under guard has ever been lost. Are they skilled professionals who free up Marines and soldiers or rogue mercenaries who interfere with America's goals in Iraq?
Funding the Troops; Fighting the Enemy in Iraq; Safety in the Green Zone Democratic leaders in the House and Senate hope to send President Bush an Iraq spending bill by the end of this week. It would include political benchmarks for the Iraqi government but not a timeline for withdrawal of troops. A car bomb has killed at least 25 people and wounded 60 or more today in a Baghdad market. Also, Inside the Green Zone , the US is building a complex that will be the largest US embassy in the world. Waiting for it to be finished, US State Department employees are angry over what they call inadequate safety precautions.
All Eyes on Congress as House Votes on War Funding Bill The House today set a deadline : US troops home from Iraq by the end of August next year. Some liberals who want to end the war now went along, even though the deadline is part of a spending bill to support the troops in the meantime. Is it political posturing or the start of something big? In addition to soldiers, there’s a staggering quantity of arms and equipment. Would a pull-out be a logistical nightmare? Is it all moot anyway, because the Army’s running out of deployable troops? What would a pull-out look like, especially one conducted under the pressure of a binding deadline? We hear from journalists, peace activists, defense and security experts.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
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?