FROM Robert Young Pelton
American Forces Drawn into Bitter Fighting in Iraq Yesterday, President Bush said Iraq was returning to " normalcy ," but today he conceded the situation is "dangerous and fragile." He called the Maliki government's efforts to confront criminal elements a " defining moment " in Iraq. The President's comments followed US air strikes in both the southern city of Basra and a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, where the government has declared a curfew through Sunday. We get an update on the situation from a journalist, documentarian and aid worker in Iraq.
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?
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?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
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.