Wednesday, Oct 07th

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The Military Has a Man Problem

Military womenArmy Specialist Laura Naylor, a Wisconsin native, spent a year in Baghdad with the 32nd Military Police Company in 2003 and 2004. During that time, she—like all of the more than quarter-million women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—was officially banned from ground combat.

That technicality didn’t slow down Naylor when an IED hit her convoy and it began to take fire from a nearby building. “We had to search this house nearby, thinking they were the ones doing the shooting, and I was the lead person the whole way. I had a flashlight in one hand, a pistol in the other, and I’d kick the door open with my foot, look both ways, give the all clear, go to the next room, do the same thing,” she recounted to me a few years later. “We were interchangeable with the infantry.”


Veterans Affairs failed to give WW II vets medical benefits for participating in mustard gas experiments

VA failed WWII vetsThe U.S. military failed to compensate thousands of soldiers who were secretly exposed to mustard gas during its most toxic experiments as promised, according to an NPR investigation.

Exposure to the sulphur mustards left some gas masked participants like Charlie Cavell, then 19 years old, blistered and burned while trapped inside heated gas chambers during World War II.


Military knew about bizarre methods of doctor hired to train troops

Dr. HagmannFor years, a doctor now accused of performing macabre procedures on the troops that he trained took steps to cloak his battlefield-medicine classes in secrecy. The doctor, John Henry Hagmann, often required that those who took or helped teach his courses sign non-disclosure agreements.

The agreements may have helped ensure that his most extreme training methods – including allegedly inducing shock among students – would remain confidential.


U.S. Air Force introduces new policy preventing discharge of transgender troops

US Air ForceThe Air Force announced a policy Thursday that makes it more difficult to discharge transgender service men and women, offering greater protections against discrimination based on gender identity.

The move comes two months after the Army made a similar policy, inching the nation's military closer to allowing openly transgender troops. Before this new policy, soldiers diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or those who identify as the opposite sex, were discharged from service based on medical grounds with decisions made by doctors and unit commanders. A psychologist or psychiatrist had to approve any recommended discharge over gender dysphoria, and a unit commander had to determine if the condition disrupted the individual's performance.


Chelsea Manning reveals threats of 'disappearing' at Guantánamo Bay

Chelsea ManningThe American soldier Chelsea Manning has accused US military guards of threatening her with exile to Guantánamo Bay without trial or acknowledgment of her gender transition after she was apprehended as the source of one of the largest leaks of state secrets in history.

Writing in the Guardian from prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where she is serving a 35-year sentence, Manning marked the fifth anniversary of her military custody on Wednesday with the most personal first-hand account she has yet given of the “physical and emotional rollercoaster” of a whistleblower behind bars.


Air Force launches hush-hush mini-shuttle to space

X37B aircraftA mysterious space plane is on its way to orbit.

The Air Force launched its unmanned mini-shuttle from Cape Canaveral, Florida, late Wednesday morning. An Atlas V (five) rocket carried it up.

This is the fourth flight for the military research program, which is shrouded in secrecy.


CIA's torture experts now use their skills in secret drones program

CIA droneThe controversy over the CIA’s secret drone program has gone from bad to worse this week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA’s torture program, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the president’s explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire program classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that many of those in charge of the CIA’s torture program – the same people whose names were explicitly redacted from the Senate’s torture report in order to avert accountability – “have ascended to the agency’s powerful senior ranks” and now run the CIA drone program under the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. Rather than being fired and prosecuted, they have been rewarded with promotions.


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