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Tuesday, Sep 30th

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State Department Awarded Blackwater More Than $1 Billion After Threat On Investigator's Life

BlackwaterThe State Department awarded more than a billion dollars in funding to the security firm Blackwater and its later incarnations even after one of the company's top officials allegedly threatened a government investigator's life, a review by The Huffington Post has shown.

The New York Times revealed last week that the State Department's chief investigator reported being threatened by a Blackwater official in Iraq in August 2007. The investigator said project manager Daniel Carroll told him "that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq."

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Former Blackwater guard testifies against friends

Blackwater trialFormer Blackwater security guard Matthew Murphy and now-indicted ex-colleague Paul Slough were friends, having survived the war in Iraq together, creating a bond that under different circumstances might have lasted a lifetime.

But from the witness stand in the Blackwater criminal trial this week, Murphy testified that he saw Slough fire at least two grenades into a car where a woman and her son died, two of 14 Iraqis killed on Sept. 16, 2007, in a downtown Baghdad square.

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Blackwater on trial over killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007

Blackwater trialAfter years of delays, four former guards from the security firm Blackwater Worldwide are facing trial in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe.

Whether the shootings were self-defense or an unprovoked attack, the carnage of 16 September 2007 was seen by critics of the George W Bush administration as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.

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The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead

Drone deathsThe U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, details on its website, five years ago the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of the Obama presidency. Although there were reports of suspected "militants" killed, at least 14 civilians also died that day.

After those initial mistakes, TBIJ notes, Obama rapidly ramped up the drone program in Pakistan and increased its use in Yemen and Somalia, two countries where al Qaeda affiliates expanded their presence during Obama's presidency.

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Welcome to Penny Lane: CIA secret Gitmo camp for recruiting double agents

penny lane - ciaIn the early stages of the ‘War on Terror,’ CIA agents at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility turned detainees into double agents, helping the US to track and kill terrorists, according to US officials.

For some Gitmo detainees, held prisoner on a US military base in the middle of shark-infested waters, the promise of freedom in return for helping the CIA root out terrorists back home may have proven too much of a temptation.

In addition to winning their freedom, co-conspirators were granted safety guarantees for their families, and millions of dollars from the agency's secret war chest, sources told AP.

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In Afghanistan, 'Security Deal' Means Endless US Occupation

Afghan forevern warDays before the so-called bi-lateral security agreement heads to an Afghan council of elders and political leaders for a final decision, the U.S. is attempting to force through a stipulation that would allow U.S. troops to continue raiding Afghan homes, in addition to measures giving U.S. troops and contractors immunity from Afghan law and extending U.S. military presence far beyond Obama's 2014 pullout date.

Critics charge that the U.S. is giving itself the green light for open-ended occupation at the expense of the Afghan people. "Occupation is not defined by how many occupiers are policing someplace," said Kimber Heinz of the War Resisters League in an interview with Common Dreams. "If you reduce the amount of occupation forces but keep them there forever, then the occupation continues and the war on people's everyday lives is not actually over — no matter what the US government or mainstream media tells us."

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U.S.-led troop pullout may be behind Afghanistan record opium poppy crop

opum poppiesThe 2014 pullout of U.S.-led combat troops from Afghanistan appears to be having a major impact on the country's narcotics trade, with opium poppy cultivation growing to a record high this year, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

The boom underscores the failure of U.S.-led international efforts to fight opium poppy cultivation that have cost U.S. taxpayers some $4.42 billion since 2002. Afghanistan remains the world's largest producer of opium, which contains morphine, the alkaloid from which heroin is produced.

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