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Saturday, Oct 25th

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U.S. Election Speeded Move to Codify Policy on Drones

dronesFacing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

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Dronestagram – the website exposing the US's secret drone war

DronestagramThe military is normally only too pleased to herald its successes, and to praise the courage of the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country. Perhaps it is the link (or lack of it) between these two that encourages them to talk-up certain missions, and come over all sheepish when it comes to drones.

Piloted by remote control from thousands of miles away, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been the one unqualified military triumph of the war in Afghanistan. That is, if "success" comes in an equation where lots of people get killed, at next to no risk, at an affordable price.

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Soldiers win $85m compensation from Iraq war contractor

Halliburton endangered troopsA jury has ordered an $85m (£53m) compensation payout by the American military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root – which helped build Guantánamo Bay and has tendered to run key police services in Britain – after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq war.

After a three-week trial the jury deliberated for two days before reaching a decision against KBR, which used to be part of Halliburton corporation. KBR was ordered to pay $6.2m to each of the soldiers in punitive damages and $850,000 in non-economic damages.

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Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists

DroneThis project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing. This is the first of three stories.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

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As War Nears An End, Our Afghan Translators Are Being Left Behind

Afhanistan warYewazi, an Afghan national, began working as an interpreter with the U.S. military in 2006, when he was 20 years old, accompanying units on patrol in the Nuristan and Kunar provinces, among the most dangerous in the country.

In May 2009, during a mission to repair a collapsed bridge in a remote northeastern valley, the soldiers he was with were ambushed; shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade peppered the right side of his body, maiming him so badly that doctors initially told him he’d lose his right hand. As he recovered at Bagram Air Base, his unit returned to the States.

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WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says

Iraqi children shot in US raidA U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

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Iraq records huge rise in birth defects linked to US invasion

Iraq birth defectsA new study reports a "staggering rise" in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.

High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

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