WASHINGTON — One by one, four former Blackwater security contractors wearing blue jumpsuits and leg irons stood before a federal judge on Monday and spoke publicly for the first time since a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq.
The men had been among several private American security guards who fired into Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square on Sept. 16, 2007, and last October they were convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in what prosecutors called a wartime atrocity. Yet on Monday, as they awaited sentences that they knew would send them to prison for most if not all of their lives, they defiantly asserted their innocence.
The judge, Royce C. Lamberth, strongly disagreed, sentencing Mr. Slatten to life in prison and handing 30-year sentences to the three others. A fifth former guard, Jeremy P. Ridgeway of California, had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and testified against his former colleagues. He has not been sentenced but testified that he hoped to avoid any prison time.
Unbelievably, Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder, implying that the killing was both willful and premeditated. In order to believe this, one must believe that this was somehow all planned by Slatten, which is ridiculous.
Look, I’m not going to pretend that I know all of the details about this case, because I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened, and I’ve only followed the case peripherally. But to throw these guys in the middle of a combat zone, and then expect perfection, is absurd. Because that’s what this is: Our government is asking them to be perfect, which is impossible in war.
So the U.S. State Department abandoned their contractors to be prosecuted. What about their supervisors at the state department? What about the Regional Security Officers? What about the people responsible for putting them in that situation to begin with? Where are the consequences for them? As usual, the shit sandwich rolls downhill and the guys at the bottom are the only ones who get to take a big bite.
One mistake in Baghdad in 2007 meant that you, your client, and everyone else in the car was dead. Say what you will about Blackwater: Under their watch, they never lost an American diplomat, which is more than we can say for the rest of the State Department.
This is a tragedy all around. For these men, their families, and for the Iraqi citizens.
Located in the hills of West Virginia, the guys at Paramount Tactical Solutions have over 200 acres of training area, including a 1000 meter range and an unknown distance range. They offer a wide range of classes for both beginners and seasoned death dealers alike. They also provide group training for military and law enforcement. So, if you happen to find yourself in West Virginia, put down the moonshine, grab some guns, and go get some.
This is the fourth and final training assessment course this spring to include women. The two-week preparation in the Army National Guard’s Ranger Training Assessment Course, or RTAC, is the lead-in to April 20’s opening of Ranger School, where the women are being watched for a one-time assessment.
Pentagon and Army officials this year are determining whether women can even qualify for, much less complete in, the grueling two-month Ranger School. Later they will decide whether to allow women full and official entry into the military’s most elite special operations forces units, like the 75th Ranger Regiment, as combat fighters equal to men. A lot of decisions lie ahead.
“There is an art to foot marching, but running is not on the list,” (What does that even mean???) said retired Army Command Sergeant Major Jeff Mellinger from the first row of a passenger van trailing the RTAC soldiers. Army officials brought in Mellinger, a storied Ranger who served as command sergeant major of Ranger Regiment’s 1st Battalion, in to reassure those who wear the Ranger “tab,” – the coveted curved shoulder patch earned by those who complete the school – that it will not be watered down or its standard relaxed because women have a shot at donning it.
“Stretch it out, Ranger, stretch it out,” called retired Command Sergeant Major Thomas G. Siter, deputy commander of the Warrior Training Center. It is only clear once Siter is right up next to him that this is a male soldier.
The scrutiny facing Rainey and other leaders at Fort Benning is intense. In recent months staff members from the Senate and House Armed Services Committees as well as Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, have all come down to see firsthand the preparations for Ranger School’s opening. On this morning, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn is on his way from Washington for a briefing.
No pressure there, right? I’m SURE that all of these staffers are there to make a fair and unbiased assessment and forward their honest thoughts to the senior comman… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Damn, sorry, I couldn’t get through that with a straight face.
Obviously, we here at cms.sofrep.com have a keen interest in all things ranger-related, so we will continue to keep a close eye on this one. I’m sure when they get to the part of scaling hills with 100 pounds of gear the women will have no problems. Ah, who am I kidding… I’m sure that’s already been eliminated.
I have to ask our Ranger readers: Is it common practice to refer to someone as a “Ranger” before they’ve even graduated a PRE-SELECTION COURSE???
Also, it’s getting tiresome reading articles from people who don’t know that there is a difference between going to Ranger School and being a member of the 75th Ranger regiment. Any asshole can go to Ranger school and then go back to their regular army unit. But to actually wear a ranger scroll means you’re a member of a Ranger Battalion, one of America’s most prestigious war-fighting outfits.
I also take issue with the opening sentence to the story:
No debate about it, the Army is making the women trying to qualify for Ranger School meet every male standard – just like they want it.
Let me clue the author in to what happens in the real world, with police departments, fire departments, and other traditional male-dominated fields under pressure to admit women: The standard is continually lowered for men until women can pass it. See, then you still have a universal standard, it just becomes much, much easier for anyone to make the cut.
I look forward to the spectacle of some DOD spokes-hack telling us how they’ve eliminated PT tests and ruck marching in Ranger School because those really aren’t that relevant to the Army Ranger career field.
Japanese game show, “Sing What Happens,” seriously tests their male contestants’ karaoke skills by giving them hand jobs while they sing. The object of the game is for the contestants to know the song by heart and to not be distracted by the hand job. They need to be able to hit the proper notes—perfectly—in order to win. Sometimes a hand is used and other times feet are used for zee sexual gratification. The contestants must be able to carry a tune until they ejaculate. Stiff competition indeed.
ZING. I can do a helluva Elvis impression. I’m just saying.
HURLBURT FIELD, Florida -The Air Force has selected Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner, Special Tactics combat controller from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, as the national Non Commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award recipient for heroic actions while deployed with an Army Special Forces unit to Afghanistan in September 2014.
Greiner continued to perform his job as a combat controller, despite grievous injuries to his head and body, calling in life-saving close air support and medevacs for his special operations team while injured.
On Sept. 21, 2014, Greiner and his Special Forces team were conducting a joint clearing operation in a known insurgent safe haven in the volatile Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The team was ambushed by insurgents within 150 meters of Greiner’s position. A 40-millimeter enemy grenade exploded within five feet of his position, severely injuring Greiner and the team’s interpreter. The team’s medic immediately retrieved Greiner and dragged him into cover and began applying multiple bandages to control his bleeding while requesting an urgent medevac.
The ground force commander attempted to call in emergency close air support procedures to repel the enemy advance, and while doing so, heard Greiner on the radio. Confused, he turned to confirm Greiner’s status. He observed Greiner on the litter receiving medical aid. Greiner had a radio and shrapnel peppered map in one hand, and a fentanyl lollipop in the other. He proceeded to control multiple aircraft to provide CAS for 38 minutes and neutralize the enemy threat, protecting his team and his own medevac helicopter from enemy fire.
For his actions on that day, Greiner was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
Jesus Hank CHRIST, brother, you get all of the Hooyahs! But wait, there’s more from TSgt. Grenier:
Greiner will receive the Silver Star for actions later taken on Sept. 28-30 in a 48-hour battle in the Helmand River Valley, only seven days after medevac and five days after release from the Kandahar hospital. The Silver Star is the third highest medal a military service member can receive, below the Air Force Cross and Medal of Honor.
According to Self, the 21 STS is the most highly decorated squadron in Air Force history since Vietnam War. Greiner’s actions contribute to a legacy of honor in the Special Tactics community, which has six Air Force Cross, more than 650 Bronze Stars with Valor (!!!), and 105 Purple Hearts since 9/11.
Outstanding job, TSgt. Grenier. See, drugs don’t really hinder someone’s ability to be a productive member of society! I’m off to hand out this story out to all of our local crack/meth heads here in San Diego.
WASHINGTON — The Army’s 2016 class of commanders for 31 of its top combat units has one black officer, a trend that the service is seeking to reverse with limited success.
The 2016 list of commanders for Army infantry, artillery and armor combat brigades and battalions shows black officers continue to struggle to gain a foothold in the units that serve as the primary training ground for senior leaders.
Six black officers out of 82 will lead battalions, which are 800- to 1000-soldier components of brigades, according to the list, which was obtained by USA TODAY. But only one of the 31 combat brigades getting new commanders, the list shows, will have an African-American colonel in charge.
Check out the headline USA today used to talk about this horrible, horrible problem:
Black Army Officers Struggle to Climb Ranks
Immediately, I’m thinking, “Damn, there must me some OBSTACLE blocking them from making rank! Some terrible (probably racist) force, unfairly singling out black officers to impede their promotion path!” Of course, that’s not the real story. You have to read farther down to get this paragraph:
Among the issues confronting the Army: channeling young black officers into combat fields when many have traditionally favored fields such as logistics.
Huh. So the headline should actually be, “Few Black Officer Candidates Interested in Combat Jobs.” But see, that’s not SEXY. Oh, and notice the first sentence of that paragraph? “Among the issues…” But that’s the only issue they list! WHAT ARE THE OTHER ISSUES???
Whenever I get into an
argument discussion with someone about government-enforced racial diversity, I am constantly told how IMPORTANT it is. I just keep asking, “Why?” and never really get a good answer. So it was kind of funny to see USA Today flailing about to come up with an answer to that question. Check out this paragraph from one of those stories:
Diverse leadership, research shows, is better able to solve complex problems such as those the Army confronted in Iraq and Afghanistan, Smith said.
You don’t say. How’s that going so far?
You know when you go over to someone’s house, and you’re in some kind of cellular/3/4g black hole? Obviously, the solution is to hop on your host’s WiFi network. And then this happens:
“Hey, which WiFi network is yours?”
“Oh, it’s ProudInfidelCrusader99.”
“Cool. (eye roll.) And what’s the password?”
“Um, I don’t know. It’s the factory one. I’ll have to go find out.” -(Proceeds to fumble fuck away for the next hour trying to reach his impossibly-placed router that’s located deep behind his TV covered in multiple layers of wires, dust, and dead spiders to read off a 47 digit numeral while you DIE a little inside.)
God DAMMIT, people. AS SOON AS YOU HOOK UP YOUR WiFi ROUTER CHANGE THE GODDAMN PASSWORD TO SOMETHING EASILY REMEMBERED. People who don’t do this should be dragged out into the street and executed as a warning to others.
WEST POINT — “Black Knights” stays, but the Black Knight goes when it comes to Army athletics.
Make that “Army West Point” athletics.
Both moves are part of a rebranding effort announced here Monday night at Eisenhower Hall in a ceremony that was part press conference, part laser show (complete with fog machines) and part “Project Runway,” with representatives from some of the school’s athletic teams modeling new uniforms.
So now it’s going to be “The Army West Point Football team.” Who the hell came up with this? I’m pretty sure that everyone in America knows that “West Point” means “Army.” This is like saying, “The Massachusetts Boston Red Sox.” And it took 18 months to come up with that?
Daniel Tosh is America’s comedian.
Experts say Air Force Pararescueman Master Sgt. Scott Gearen fell from the sky and slammed into the Virginia dirt traveling 100 mph during what was supposed to be a routine parachute jump one dreadful day in 1987.
The plan was for the Air Force Pararescuemen and Navy SEALs to jump out of a Marine CH-46 helicopter at 13,000 feet, free fall to 3,500 feet, open their chutes and fall gently back to Earth. When Gearen reached 3,500 feet, he pulled his chute and looked up to make sure the canopy was as it should be.
At that moment, his life took a horrific turn.
Another airman above him was still in free-fall and tried, but couldn’t, avoid crashing into Gearen, a Tampa native. The other airman did what Special Operations Forces are trained to do in such situations: Get into a cannonball position and hope to do as little damage as possible.
That other airman smashed into Gearen traveling roughly 135 mph, causing extensive damage to Gearen’s face, head and instantly knocked him out.
The other special operations forces watched helplessly as five of Gearen’s seven nylon canopy chutes collapsed and he began falling in circles, blacked-out and limp, toward what appeared to be sure death.
Minor quibble: I believe the author meant to say, “five of Gearen’s seven nylon canopy CELLS collapsed.”
I had the honor of working with Scott overseas at one point. There isn’t a more laid back, cool motherfucker walking the planet. His voice sounds like he gargles with broken glass, due to the emergency tracheotomy he underwent on the ground, and he scares the shit out of small children, which is awesome. Go read the whole thing.
But although those things may all be true, the real reason to spare Tsarnaev’s life is that no crime warrants the death penalty. The jury should reject capital punishment and sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison without possibility of parole because that is how a mature society acts. Not out of vengeance. Not out of passion. Killing another human being is immoral, whether by bomb or by lethal injection.
It was the desire for retribution that led this page to agree in 2001 that Timothy J. McVeigh, who murdered 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, deserved the death penalty. But that editorial was written out of passion, not justice, and we now regret what we wrote. It is in cases like these that a principled opposition to the death penalty is tested, and we should have understood that.
Tsarnaev deserves no sympathy. But he should not die at the hands of his government. To execute Tsarnaev would be to adopt the mentality of terrorists, who seek to sway the actions of others through violence. This country is — or at least should be — better than that.
Remember, I told you last week that 100% of journalists are against the death penalty, so I wasn’t surprised to see the beard-stroking WEINERS at the Los Angele Times get their panties in a bunch over executing Tsarnaev. It wasn’t just limited to them: The Boston Globe (!!!) also went into full fret mode.
It is pretty funny that they had no such compunction about offing the white guy, though.
AURORA, Colo. — There are hospital doors at the half-built Veterans Affairs medical center outside Denver that were supposed to cost $100 each but ended up running $1,400. There’s a $100-million-and-still-rising price tag for an atrium and concourse with curving blond-wood walls and towering glass windows. And entire rooms that had to be refashioned because requests for medical equipment changed at the last minute and in other cases the equipment didn’t fit. No one had bothered to measure.
Not even completed yet, this $1.7 billion facility is already among the most expensive hospitals in the world, and it’s just one of several VA hospital projects that are greatly over budget and behind schedule, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
There are no words. Go read the whole thing and try not to bang your head against the wall.
SAN DIEGO — A lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy is the latest to be charged and plead guilty in the massive “Fat” Leonard Francis bribery scandal.
Todd Dale Malaki, 44, stood at attention with the bearing of a military man and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin in San Diego federal court Wednesday…
…In March 2006 during a port visit in Malaysia, the two men went to a karaoke club and Francis then supplied Malaki with a prostitute, the plea states.
Other bribes included two $1,500 payments in cash-filled envelopes and hotel stays in Hong Kong, Tonga and Singapore, the plea agreement states. The total value of the bribes was an estimated $15,000 — an amount Malaki has agreed to pay back in restitution.
This was a huge story that hasn’t really gotten a lot of traction, but it is JUICY. If you aren’t familiar, CNN has a pretty good summary. Basically, a businessman in Malaysia bribed ship commanders so they would port their ships in areas he controlled. I had to laugh at this paragraph:
Rear Admirals Michael Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo were censured by the Secretary of the Navy on Tuesday after an investigation found that they “improperly accepted gifts from a prohibited source” from 2006 to 2007. All three officers have now submitted retirement requests.
Yeah, I bet they have. Man, is there anything more universal than envelopes of cash and prostitutes? The answer is no, there is not. On that note: Fat Leonard, contact me @BKactual. I am ready, willing, and able to be bribed.
MELBOURNE, Fla. -A Florida man believed to be high on flakka, a drug that authorities say is sweeping the state, attacked a Brevard police officer after twice being shocked with a Taser while repeatedly saying he was God, according to officials
Kenneth Crowder, 41, of Melbourne, was arrested Friday on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting with violence and assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer.
According to a Melbourne police report, Crowder was spotted by witnesses running naked through a Melbourne neighborhood, yelling that he was a god before committing a sexual act on a tree.
Sofrep ladies, calm down. I know every week, you berate me in the comments for not providing enough eye candy for you. Well, look at this fine gentleman. I SAID LOOK AT HIM. You think it’s EASY finding nude male drug users every week?
Actually, it is pretty easy. I just google, “naked man drugs.” 90% of the time it’s in Florida, where apparently they have nothing to do other than snort questionable powders and get nude.
The US Navy is planning to stop using crewed fighter jets in the coming years, according to Navy secretary Ray Mabus, turning instead to uncrewed aerial vehicles and drones to perform missions at sea, on land, and in the air. Speaking at the Sea-Air-Space 2015 conference on Wednesday, Mabus said that the currently used F-35 Lightning fighter “should be, and almost certainly will be, the last [crewed] strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly.”
By moving away from crewed aircraft, Mabus said the Navy could develop new fighting craft without needing to factor in the pilot’s safety, a process that extended the time and cost of projects. “Removing a human from the machine can open up room to experiment with more risk, improve systems faster, and get them to the fleet quicker.” To push the drone agenda, Mabus said he planned to create a new office for un-crewed technology in the Navy and appoint a deputy assistant director to champion the technology.
I’d really like to hear from pilots on this one. I can kind of see the guy’s point when it comes to cargo transport, MAYBE some seaborne search-and-rescue applications, and some other minor non-combat flights, but in aerial combat? Close air support? Make the case to me.
Ending two years of speculation and coy denials, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee.
“I’m running for president,” she said with a smile near the end of a two-minute video released just after 3 p.m.
“Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,” Mrs. Clinton said. “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote — because it’s your time. And I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”
Other things this Just-Like-You-And-Me candidate hasn’t done in 20 years:
- Cooked a meal
- A load of laundry
- Ironed a shirt
- Cleaned anything
- Worried about money
- Told the truth
- Touched a penis
I mean, this is really beyond parody. See, Clinton isn’t like Barack Obama in 2008. Nobody had ever heard of Obama. We had to wait to find out that he was a
manchurian candidate who would flood the country with banana republic immigrants in a desperate attempt to create his marxist utopia really liberal guy.
But we are all painfully aware of Hillary Clinton’s sordid past. And she’s well on her way to the white house! With her staged campaign events, locking down possible protesters, and confiscating communications devices, she’s looking more and more like the leader an increasingly paranoid country deserves. God, I hate politicians.
An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring “South Asians” in hiring and promotion. It’s backing up its complaint, in part, with numbers.
The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a “grossly disproportionate workforce.”
India-based Tata achieves its “discriminatory goals” in at least three ways, the lawsuit alleges. First, the company hires large numbers of H-1B workers. Over from 2011 to 2013, Tata sponsored nearly 21,000 new H-1B visas, all primarily Indian workers, according to the lawsuit’s count. Second, when Tata hires locally, “such persons are still disproportionately South Asian,” and, third, for the “relatively few non-South Asians workers that Tata hires,” it disfavors them in placement, promotion and termination decisions.
The plaintiff in the Tata case, Steven Heldt, is a former Tata employee and “one of the few non-South Asians to gain employment with Tata.” The lawsuit describes a miserable experience during his 20-month employment period, despite a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in IT, numerous certifications, nearly two decades of experience, and “service with distinction” in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Good luck to Steven Heldt. Maybe this lawsuit will cast a little bit more scrutiny on the bald-faced lie that we have a shortage of tech workers in this country, necessitating the need to import people from other countries to pay them slave wages.
It would be nice if ONE GODDAMN reporter would ask about this instead of giggling and having drinks with those who are supposed to be their frigging adversaries.
Send all tips and news stories you think are relevant/hilarious @BKactual.