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Monday, Apr 21st

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Soldiers May Be Leaving Iraq, But Contractors Will Remain

Contractors stay in IraqAmerican troops may be leaving Iraq before the end of the year, but U.S. contractors aren’t going anywhere soon.

ABC News reports that the State Department “is expected to have about 5,000 security contractors in Iraq as of January 2012 (they already have about 3,000 in country).” There will also be 4,500 “general life support” contractors to provide food and medical services.

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Killing warning missed in slayings of Afghan civilians

Stryker BrigadeJoint Base Lewis-McChord’s operations center was hindered by high turnover and inconsistent training when it missed an early warning that could have tipped off the Army about a series of murders allegedly committed by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, according to an Army investigation obtained by The News Tribune.

Lt. Col. Charles Roede’s report primarily faults the noncommissioned officer who failed to act on a phone call he received Feb. 14, 2010, describing plots to kill Afghan civilians.

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Arms trade to repressive regimes largely from US, Russia and Europe

military weaponsArms shipments to repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa were largely from the United States, Russian and Europe, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International, in an assessment of arms transfers, referred to a "stark failure" of arms exports controls across the board. The rights group said that, before the Arab Spring, the United States, Russian and several European countries supplied huge quantities of weapons to repressive regimes in the region.

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Investigation: Army platoon was 'out of control' in Afghanistan

Stryker unitMore than 75 Afghan elders filed into a meeting with U.S. Army officers early last year to deliver a disturbing message: Soldiers patrolling villages in southern Afghanistan were out of control.

Stryker platoonmates from Joint Base Lewis-McChord were shooting dogs. They were breaking cultural taboos by searching homes with only women and children around. And they had killed two innocent young men.

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US abandons plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq

US drops plans to keep troops in IraqThe U.S. is abandoning plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, The Associated Press has learned. The decision to pull out fully by January will effectively end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite ongoing concerns about its security forces and the potential for instability.

The decision ends months of hand-wringing by U.S. officials over whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement to ensure that gains made and more than 4,400 American military lives lost since March 2003 do not go to waste.

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U.N. says Afghanistan routinely tortures war suspects

Afghanistan uses tortureThe United Nations on Monday said that suspected Taliban detainees are routinely beaten and tortures in detention centers run by Afghanistan's police and spy agency.

The U.N. said it based its findings on interviews conducted with 379 pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners at 47 detention centers in 22 provinces between October 2010 to August 2011.

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Jalaluddin Haqqani, Once CIA's 'Blue-Eyed Boy,' Now Top Scourge For U.S. In Afghanistan

Jalaluddin HaqqaniThe U.S.'s new public enemy No. 1 in Afghanistan is one of its own making. Ten years into the occupation of Afghanistan, American officials describe the militia led by Jalaluddin Haqqani as the country's deadliest insurgent group, responsible for a slew of particularly bold attacks, including the day-long assault three weeks ago on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

But Haqqani's rise to power can be traced directly back to the secret, multi-billion-dollar U.S. campaign to create a radicalized and well-equipped army of Islamic jihadists -- known as the mujahideen -- to lead a war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

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