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Friday, Dec 19th

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The truth about criminal jurisdiction over US troops in Afghanistan

KerryDuring an Oct. 12 press conference in Kabul, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that under the pending U.S.-Afghan security agreement, the United States would retain exclusive jurisdiction over its service members for any crimes they commit in Afghanistan.

Kerry unfortunately misstated U.S. law, policy and practice. What's worse, he did so at a critical juncture in the negotiations for an agreement to enable American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014. And he did this while standing next to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Kerry's misstatements undermined Karzai's ability to explain and advocate for the jurisdiction provisions at an upcoming loya jirga, or political assembly.

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Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program

NSA drone programIt was an innocuous e-mail, one of millions sent every day by spouses with updates on the situation at home. But this one was of particular interest to the National Security Agency, and contained clues that put the sender’s husband in the cross hairs of a CIA drone.

Days later, Hassan Ghul — an associate of Osama bin Laden who provided a critical piece of intelligence that helped the CIA find the al-Qaeda leader — was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

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Chelsea Manning awaits diagnosis in prison before possible hormone therapy

Chelsea ManningThe lawyer who defended Chelsea Manning against charges of leaking classified information said Wednesday that his client is being assessed at a military prison for gender identity disorder, and that he's hopeful the military will allow Manning to receive hormone therapy.

Civilian attorney David Coombs spoke to more than 150 students and faculty at Roger Williams University School of Law, where he has taught. Manning, previously known as Bradley, is serving a 35-year sentence for a July conviction on espionage and other offenses for sending more than 700,000 documents and some battlefield video to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. She said after she was sentenced that she wishes to live as a woman and receive hormone therapy. The military previously said it does not provide it.

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Military still secretive on sex crimes

military secretive on sex crimesFor all the public scrutiny of military sexual assault this year — from hearings to heated Senate debates — congressional efforts are only just beginning to challenge the Pentagon’s overarching strategy on the issue for the past 25 years: secrecy.

From tracking the extent of the problem to showing how cases are resolved, the military has consistently and forcefully resisted fully airing details.

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Cyber security: The new arms race for a new front line

Cyber defenseIn the eastern New Jersey suburbs, a train carrying radiological material is barreling toward a small town, and it is up to Pentagon cyber-operators to derail it. The town is the kind of idyllic whistle-stop hamlet where residents socialize at a cafe with complimentary Wi-Fi while surfing FaceSpace, a social networking site.

But danger lurks all around. Terrorists are using the open Wi-Fi connection to hack into the laptop of a patron who works at the hospital down the street. They plan to find the hospital codes stored in his computer to access the mayor's medical records, in which they will change the dosage of a prescription the mayor refills regularly in an effort to poison him.

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Feds won't enforce same-sex veterans law

Eric HolderThe Obama administration said Wednesday it will stop enforcing a law that blocks benefits to partners of military veterans in same-sex marriages.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a provision in federal law on benefits to veterans and their families defines "spouse" to mean a person of the opposite sex. He says that definition leaves out legally married same-sex couples, and runs afoul of a June Supreme Court ruling.

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USS Nimitz carrier group rerouted for possible help with Syria

USS NimitzThe nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and other ships in its strike group are heading west toward the Red Sea to help support a limited U.S. strike on Syria, if needed, defense officials said on Sunday.

The Nimitz carrier strike group, which includes four destroyers and a cruiser, has no specific orders to move to the eastern Mediterranean at this point, but is moving west in the Arabian Sea so it can do so if asked. It was not immediately clear when the ships would enter the Red Sea, but they had not arrived by Sunday evening, said one official.

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