Friday, March 31, 2006this nice. Now soldiers do not have the option of purchasing their own armor, months after the Pentagon promised to reimburse soldiers who purchased private armor. Hut they've got it right this time. We SWEAR, guys!
WASHINGTON - Soldiers will no longer be allowed to wear body armor other than the protective gear issued by the military, Army officials said Thursday, the latest twist in a running battle over the equipment the
Pentagon gives its troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army officials told The Associated Press that the order was prompted by concerns that soldiers or their families were buying inadequate or untested commercial armor from private companies — including the popular Dragon Skin gear made by California-based Pinnacle Armor.
"We're very concerned that people are spending their hard-earned money on something that doesn't provide the level of protection that the Army requires people to wear. So they're, frankly, wasting their money on substandard stuff," said Col. Thomas Spoehr, director of materiel for the Army.
Murray Neal, chief executive officer of Pinnacle, said he hadn't seen the directive and wants to review it.
"We know of no reason the Army may have to justify this action," Neal said. "On the surface this looks to be another of many attempts by the Army to cover up the billions of dollars spent on ineffective body armor systems which they continue to try quick fixes on to no avail."
The move was a rare one by the Army. Spoehr said he doesn't recall any similar bans on personal armor or devices. The directives are most often issued when there are problems with aircraft or other large equipment.
Veterans groups immediately denounced the decision.
Nathaniel R. Helms, editor of the Soldiers for the Truth online magazine Defense Watch, said he has already received a number of e-mails from soldiers complaining about the policy.
"Outrageously we've seen that (soldiers) haven't been getting what they need in terms of equipment and body armor," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (news, bio, voting record), D-Conn., who wrote legislation to have troops reimbursed for equipment purchases. "That's totally unacceptable, and why this directive by the Pentagon needs to be scrutinized in much greater detail."
But another veterans group backed the move.
"I don't think the Army is wrong by doing this, because the Army has to ensure some level of quality," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "They don't want soldiers relying on equipment that is weak or substandard."
But, Rieckhoff said, the military is partially to blame for the problem because it took too long to get soldiers the armor they needed. "This is the monster they made," he said.
Early in the Iraq war, soldiers and their families were spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on protective gear that they said the military was not providing.
Then, last October, after months of pressure from families and members of Congress, the military began a reimbursement program for soldiers who purchased their own protective equipment.
In January, an unreleased Pentagon study found that side armor could have saved dozens of U.S. lives in Iraq, prompting the Army and Marine Corps to order thousands of ceramic body armor plates to be shipped to troops there this year.
The Army ban covers all commercial armor. It refers specifically to Pinnacle's armor, saying that while the company advertising implies that Dragon Skin "is superior in performance" to the Interceptor Body Armor the military issues to soldiers, "the Army has been unable to determine the veracity of these claims."
"In its current state of development, Dragon Skin's capabilities do not meet Army requirements," the Army order says, and it "has not been certified to protect against several small arms threats that the military is encountering in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Marine Corps has not issued a similar directive, but Marines are "encouraged to wear Marine Corps-issued body armor since this armor has been tested to meet fleet standards," spokesman Bruce Scott said.
Military officials have acknowledged that some troops — often National Guard or Reservists — went to war with lesser-quality protective gear than other soldiers were issued.
"We'll be upfront and recognize that at the start of the conflict there were some soldiers that didn't have the levels of protection that we wanted," Spoehr said. Now, he added, "we can categorically say that whatever you're going to buy isn't as good as what you're going to get" from the military.
In interviews Thursday, Army officials said aggressive marketing by body armor manufacturers was fueling public concerns that troops are not getting the protection they need.
Army Lt. Col. Scott Campbell said the Army has asked Pinnacle to provide 30 sets of the full Dragon Skin armor so it can be independently tested. He said Pinnacle has indicated it won't be able to provide that armor until May, and the company said that is still the plan.
Campbell said initial military tests on small sections of the Dragon Skin armor had disappointing results. He said Pinnacle has received $840,000 in research funding to develop improved armor.
Spoehr said he believes the directive will have little impact on soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan because it's likely that nearly all are wearing the military-issued body armor.
There have been repeated reports of soldiers or families of soldiers buying commercial equipment or trying to raise thousands of dollars to buy it for troops who are preparing to deploy overseas.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006I just...wow.
So readers, I have a challenge for you. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find either:
A) An equally stupid statement by a higher-placed government official.
B) A stupider statement by an equally placed government official.
And no volunteering G H W Bush's quotes about athiests.
Some Gay Couples Adopt to Molest, State Rep Says
Posted: 3/27/2006 10:57:00 PM
Updated: 3/27/2006 11:06:32 PM
Some Gay Couples Adopt to Molest, State Rep Says
Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, said she still believes homosexual couples should not be allowed to adopt children. In fact, in addition to e-mail correspondence with a master’s student at Vanderbilt publicized recently, in which she said as much, she has also said homosexual couples may molest the children they adopt.
"We also have seen evidence that homosexual couples prey on young males and have, in some instances, adopted them in order to have unfretted access to subject them to a life of molestation and sexual abuse," she said.
“In all cases to paint with a broad brush strokes is unfortunate,” said adoptive parent Dr. Christopher Harris.
Harris is a pediatrician by day and a single gay adoptive parent by night.
“She brings such joy into my life,” he said. “It's always said pediatrician doesn’t finished his training till he or she has a kid.”
Harris fits every requirement for the state's definition of a good adoptive parent: loving, healthy and financially stable. He is also gay, and for Maggert, that means he's unqualified.
“I have strong convictions. I just feel kids in our foster have been through enough. They need the optimum family unit, and that is a mother and a father," she said.
In the e-mail with the Vanderbilt student, Maggart said research shows most homosexual couples have numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues that may not be healthy for children.
A lot of debate has circled around the evidence on whether gay adoptions are good for kids.
Harris said a career in pediatrics has shown children of gay and lesbian parents turn out just fine.
Maggert said it's just the opposite, and the research she's read comes from a variety of sources, including the ACLU and Focus on the Family, a Christian group.
The gay adoption bill is still in the House committee on children and family affairs and has several more steps before lawmakers can take a vote.
Monday, March 27, 2006Ugh, come on, you toad. I love how he trots out the "captured on the battlefield" talking point, as it's been disproven so many times (see after the article). Oh, and by the way, did we just have a Supreme Court justice personalize the entire issue? The Court is supposed to rule by law, not personal feelings.
Activist judges, indeed.
Supreme Court: Detainees' Rights—Scalia Speaks His Mind
April 3, 2006 issue - The Supreme Court this week will hear arguments in a big case: whether to allow the Bush administration to try Guantánamo detainees in special military tribunals with limited rights for the accused. But Justice Antonin Scalia has already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter. During an unpublicized March 8 talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions, adding he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Gitmo. "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," he says on a tape of the talk reviewed by NEWSWEEK. "Give me a break." Challenged by one audience member about whether the Gitmo detainees don't have protections under the Geneva or human-rights conventions, Scalia shot back: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy." Scalia was apparently referring to his son Matthew, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Scalia did say, though, that he was concerned "there may be no end to this war."
The comments provoked "quite an uproar," said Samantha Besson, a member of the Freiburg law faculty who had invited Scalia to give his talk, which was mostly about his "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution. This isn't the first time Scalia has commented on matters before the court: two years ago he recused himself from a Pledge of Allegiance case after making public comments about the matter. "This is clearly grounds for recusal," said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a human-rights group that has filed a brief in behalf of the Gitmo detainees. "I can't recall an instance where I've heard a judge speak so openly about a case that's in front of him—without hearing the arguments." Other experts said it was a closer call. Scalia didn't refer directly to this week's case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, though issues at stake hinge in part on whether the detainees deserve legal protections that make the military tribunals unfair. "As these things mount, a legitimate question could be asked about whether he is compromising the credibility of the court," said Stephen Gillers, a legal-ethics expert. A Scalia recusal (it's entirely up to him) would create problems; Chief Justice John Roberts has already done so in Hamdan because he ruled on it as an appellate judge. A Supreme Courtspokeswoman said Scalia has no comment.
This is what I mean about that tired talking point:
From the Seton Hall University School of Law Report on Guantanamo Detainees:
1. Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.
2. Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.
3. The Government has detained numerous persons based on mere affiliations with a large number of groups that in fact, are not on the Department of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist. Moreover, the nexus between such a detainee and such organizations varies considerably. Eight percent are detained because they are deemed "fighters for;" 30% considered "members of;" a large majority - 60% -- are detained merely because they are "associated with" a group or groups the Government asserts are terrorist organizations. For 2% of the prisoners their nexus to any terrorist group is unidentified.
4. Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody. This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.
5. Finally, the population of persons deemed not to be enemy combatants - mostly Uighers - are in fact accused of more serious allegations than a great many persons still deemed to be enemy combatants.