Category Archives: Military

VA Official Paid $288K In ‘Relocation Payments’ To Move 140 Miles

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DailyCaller: The director of the Philadelphia VA regional benefits office was paid $288,000 in “relocation payments” to move the 140 miles from Washington, D.C. to her new home last year.

Diana Rubens was tapped last June to take over the Philadelphia regional benefits office, which is one of many VA hospitals and benefits offices currently being investigated over benefits claims.

Rubens, who previously served as the D.C.-based deputy undersecretary for field operations, where she oversaw 57 regional offices, was brought in to help fix the embattled Philadelphia facility.

A breakdown of Rubens’ “relocation payments” was not immediately available, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but a VA spokesman said that there was nothing inappropriate with the spending.

Federal regulations allow for the reimbursement of relocation expenses including the “costs of house-hunting, moving, terminating leases, and a per-diem rate for meals and temporary housing for an employee and his or her family,” the spokesman said.

But that hefty repayment is nearly 160 percent of what Rubens earned in base pay all of last year, raising questions over what exactly that money could have gone towards. Rubens was paid more than $181,000 in 2014, according to the website FedSmith.com, which maintains a database of federal employee compensation.

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out hundreds of thousands in cash to extremely well-compensated executives just to move less than three hours down the road,” Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told the Inquirer.

“For VA to pay such an outrageous amount in relocation expenses at a time when the department is continually telling Congress and taxpayers it needs more money raises questions about VA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency and true reform.”

Rubens has been mentioned before in articles criticizing other money she’s been paid by the VA. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, in 2011, she received a bonus of more than $23,000 even though patient backlogs — one area Rubens was in charge of managing — increased by 300,000.

The Washington Examiner reported last year that Rubens received more than $97,000 in bonuses between 2007 and 2011 even though the average time to process veterans’ claims doubled to 325 days on her watch. The ratio of backlogged cases nearly doubled as well, from 37 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2013.

Obama-laughs--300x199

See also:

Obama's War on Veterans

DCG

 

Obama administration tracking Muslim candidates for military, Pentagon positions

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The administration of President Barack Obama has been identifying Muslims in the military in an effort to encourage their presence.

Officials said the Defense Department has been keeping records and tracking Muslims. They said the administration sought to attract Muslims both to the military and to the Pentagon.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work on May 22.  /Glenn Fawcett/Office of the Secretary of Defense

“Our nation and our entire military family remain stronger because of
the service and sacrifice of people of all faiths, including the thousands
of patriotic Muslim Americans who have served and still serve in this long
period of war,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said last week.

The U.S. military currently has 4,500 uniformed Muslims, the Pentagon said on
July 3. It was not clear how the Pentagon identified the Muslims. The department
has not given statistics on members of other religious faiths.

In 2009, a U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, shouting “God is great,”
opened fire and killed 13 of his colleagues. Later, authorities acknowledged
that Hasan, a psychiatrist, was linked to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Critics have accused the administration of promoting Islam as the
preferential faith in the United States. Over the last year, a senior
adviser to the Homeland Security Department, Mohamed Elibiary, issued a
statement that said the U.S. Constitution was “Islamically compliant” and
that a Muslim caliphate was “inevitable.”

“I said America was an Islamic country not a Muslim country,” Elibiary
said in a Twitter post on June 30.

On July 3, Work attended the annual Pentagon ceremony of Iftar, or the evening dinner after a day-long fast that continues throughout the Muslim month of Ramadan. The Pentagon has been conducting the ceremony since 1998 in commemoration of Islam.

“Tonight is an opportunity for people of different faiths to come
together in the spirit of respect and tolerance to share the richness of our
beliefs and to enjoy the traditions of hospitality that are such an
important part of the Muslim community,” Work said.

The Pentagon, which hired Saudi-sponsored groups to raise awareness, has
reported the employment of 1,000 Muslims. Officials said they included
civilians and contractors for the Defense Department.

In his address, Work quoted Obama as saying that Ramadan reminded Americans of the principles of peace, justice and equality. The deputy
secretary also urged those at the Iftar to remember their responsibility to
the defense of the United States.

“Our country’s founders understood in a visceral way [that] the best way
to honor the place of faith in the lives of all Americans was to fight for
justice and equality as well as liberty and freedom,” Work said. “That is
exactly what the men and women both in and out of uniform who serve in the
Department of Defense do every single day. They are safeguarding the very
ideals deemed so precious by our founding fathers.”

Military investigating threat posed by Islamic State hit list of US troops

The JV team...

The JV team…

Stars and Stripes: The U.S. military on Monday was urging caution on social media while completing notifications of 100 troops who were publicly targeted for execution over the weekend by Islamic State extremists.

Officials said they were still weighing the threat but that it appeared the names, photos and identifying details — mostly of airmen and sailors — released by the “Islamic State Hacking Division” was information gleaned from the Internet, not hacked from government sources.

The group called for followers inside the United States to kill, behead and stab the servicemembers in “lone wolf” attacks, according to media reports. In January, hackers aligned with the Islamic State briefly seized control of CENTCOM’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, posting similar threats and Internet documents that embarrassed the Pentagon but revealed little sensitive data.

The Air Force on Monday had completed notification of its 58 personnel on the list, spokeswoman Lt. Col. Holly Slaughter said.

The terrorist organization may have been attempting to target branches of the military waging the U.S. air offensive on Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria. The extremists have been adept at using the Internet and social media for propaganda while also waging bloody terrorist attacks, such as the recent killing of tourists in Tunisia and bombings in Yemen.

A division calling itself the Cyber Caliphate threatened troops and released a list of email addresses and phone numbers for top military brass and former officials in January during the CENTCOM social media hacking incident.

Slaughter said the Air Force believes the new list was compiled using social media and was warning airmen and personnel about privacy settings to keep identifying information from public view. A Stars and Stripes analysis of some names on the list found the servicemembers were mentioned in widely distributed news stories about U.S. air strikes and on military media and personnel pages. The Air Force would not say whether airmen based in Europe and Africa were under threat.

“We’re trying to encourage everyone to be vigilant about what they’re putting online and how they’re interacting online, and just to secure their information,” said Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, a spokeswoman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe – U.S. Air Forces Africa.

An anonymous spouse told Fox News that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service called to notify her that her husband was named on the extremists’ kill list but did not provide guidance or an in-person security assessment of their home.

The service branches were working with the FBI on Monday to weigh the threat and additional security measures, though officials would not publicly discuss whether there were moves to secure bases or provide additional security for targeted servicemembers and their families. The FBI did not immediate return a request for comment from Stars and Stripes.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service “is actively evaluating this threat reporting and working with law enforcement and U.S. intelligence partners to address this incident,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty wrote in an email statement. “NCIS has met with almost all named Navy and Marine Corps service members to notify them of this threat and discuss their concerns.”

The Army was trying to “determine the validity of any potential threats” while its Criminal Investigation Division worked with the FBI and local units were notified, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in a written statement.

Spokesmen for commands in Europe and Africa said they were aware of the threat but declined to discuss security measures.

“We can’t confirm the validity of the tweet or address list, but as always, the safety and well-being of servicemembers and their families are a top priority, so we’re looking into it,” Navy Capt. Greg Hicks of U.S. European Command wrote in a prepared statement.

Bases overseas often tighten security measures in response to threats or high-profile events, although defense officials rarely discuss the changes or the reasons behind them.

Let this be your security guide...

Let this be your security guide…

DCG

Police departments hire non-US citizens as officers

Claiming difficulty in finding people to staff their ranks, especially in remote places, police departments across America are hiring non-citizens to be police officers, including legal immigrants, those with green cards, those with work permits, and even people with just temporary visas.

global citizenship

Alan Gomez reports for USA Today, March 21, 2015:

Law enforcement agencies struggling to fill their ranks or connect with their increasingly diverse populations are turning to immigrants to fill the gap.

Most agencies in the country require officers or deputies to be U.S. citizens, but some are allowing immigrants who are legally in the country to wear the badge. From Hawaii to Vermont, agencies are allowing green-card holders and legal immigrants with work permits to join their ranks.

At a time when 25,000 non-U.S. citizens are serving in the U.S. military, some feel it’s time for more police and sheriff departments to do the same. That’s why the Nashville Police Department is joining other departments to push the state legislature to change a law that bars non-citizens from becoming law enforcement officers.

Department spokesman Don Aaron said they want immigrants who have been honorably discharged from the military to be eligible for service.

[…] Current rules vary across departments.

Some, like the Chicago and Hawaii police departments, allow any immigrant with a work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to become an officer. That means people in the country on temporary visas or are applying for green cards can join.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Justin Mullins said the department usually struggles to fill trooper positions in less populous corners of the state, including patrol sectors high up in the mountains. He said immigrants from Canada, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Central America who are willing to live in those remote places have helped the agency fill those vacancies.

[…] Other agencies, like the Cincinnati Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, require that officers at least have a pending citizenship application on file with the federal government. And others, like the Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., police departments, require that officers be legal permanent residents, or green-card holders.

With more immigrants moving to places far from the southern border or away from traditional immigrant magnets like New York City or Miami, agency leaders say it’s important to have a more diverse police force to communicate with those immigrants and understand their culture. Bruce Bovat, deputy chief of operations in Burlington, said their immigrant officers help the agency be more “reflective of the community we serve.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said he has no problems with green-card holders becoming police officers because they’ve made a long-term commitment to the country and have undergone extensive background checks. But he worries about the security risks associated with allowing any immigrant with a work permit to become an officer, especially considering that the Obama administration has given hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants work permits.

“We’re handing over a gun and a badge to somebody whose background we don’t really know a lot about,” Krikorian said.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said any immigrant authorized to work in the U.S. has already undergone a thorough background check and will undergo even more screening in the police application process.

“The security risk is a straw man,” he said. “This is about people who have gone through criminal background checks, who are meeting the very high standards that we set as a country to stay here and who only want to serve and protect their communities.”

With an official unemployment rate currently of 5.5% but an unofficial rate that’s much higher of at least 11%, I don’t understand why police departments are finding it difficult to fill their ranks. From a March 20, 2015 article in U.S. News and World Report:

[T]here remains considerable “slack” in the labor market (see chart), meaning that an abnormally large number of people who want to work aren’t working or people with a job are not working as many hours as they’d like. The official unemployment rate is the most well-known indicator of slack, but it only counts people who are actively looking for a job.

[…] The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most comprehensive alternative measure of unemployment and underemployment (which it calls U6) includes the unemployed, the marginally attached and those involuntarily working part-time. It stood at 11 percent in February, 2.2 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession. By that measure, about 17.5 million people are unemployed or underemployed, or twice the 8.7 million people in the official unemployment measure.

What do you think of law enforcement hiring non-U.S. citizens as police officers? Sound off in our poll!

See also “Texas police officers are members of Mahmoudberg jihadist compound.”

~Éowyn

Artist Releases CONTROVERSIAL Painting of Barack Obama… You Have to See This!

President Barack Obama has played hundreds of rounds of golf since being elected into the White House. Our Campaigner-in-chief, who is unfit for the complicated nature of foreign policy, seems to enjoy his vacations while Americans suffer.

But one talented artist has had enough. A new painting by artist Jon McNaughton has been released, which is entitled, “Obama Foreign Policy,” and it’s been creating a slew of controversy.

The artwork depicts Obama smiling mid-swing as he plays a round of golf with a massive nuclear explosion visible in the background:

GOLF OBAMA

Wow that is powerful artwork! And it’s not the first time Jon has painted impressive pieces. Often times, his work focuses around patriotism and service to country:

PATRIOTISM

And clearly, he is not a fan of President Obama’s unconstitutional actions. Here is another picture, which shows Obama BURNING the U.S. Constitution:

BURNING CONSTITUTION

The art world, which prides itself on being rebellious, has been unusually quiet during the Obama administration. Clearly, Jon didn’t get the memo and is unafraid to speak out against Obama.

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Read More at the http://http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/artist-releases-controversial-painting-of-barack-obama-you-have-to-see-this/

Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli jets

Steve:

Note to our readers:

This is a replacement for Steve’s post on this subject, which he’d published earlier today. A reader alerted us that an embedded link in the post brought him to a site that carries a Trojan virus. For that reason, I’ve replaced Steve’s post with this reblog from a safe site.

See also Trail Dust’s previous post on the same subject, “President Lucifer sides with Iran.”

~Dr. Eowyn

Originally posted on Consortium of Defense Analysts:

Netenyahu and the POS

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is en route to Washington to an address to Congress on Tuesday aimed at derailing Obama’s bid for a diplomatic deal with Tehran, a Kuwaiti newspaper claims that last year President Barack Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli jets.

Congressional Republicans, specifically House Speaker John Boehner had invited Netanyahu, whose visit was coordinated without the Obama administration’s knowledge.

Mark Langfan reports for Israel National News, March 1, 2015 that Ma’an, a Bethlehem-based news agency, has cited a report by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida yesterday that Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. Reportedly, Obama’s threat forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abort the attack.

According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after…

View original 428 more words

Chicago PD has a secret interrogation “black site”

black site is a location at which a publicly unacknowledged black (or highly classified military/defense) project is conducted.

The term has gained notoriety in recent years in reference to secret prisons operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), generally outside of U.S. territory and legal jurisdiction, which are used by the U.S. government in its War on Terror to detain alleged unlawful enemy combatants. The existence of CIA black sites or secret prisons was acknowledged by then-President George W. Bush in a speech on September 6, 2006.

Well, it turns out black sites are not just run by the CIA or outside of the United States, we have a black site right here in Chicago, Illinois, Obama’s hometown! But it took a foreign newspaper, the UK’s The Guardian, to discover that, not the august New York Times or Washington Post.

Chicago PD black site

Homan Square, the Chicago PD’s black site

On Feb. 24, 2015, The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman had an exclusive on the “equivalent of a CIA black site” operated by police in Chicago. Here are excerpts:

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. […]

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution. “This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units. […]

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

[…] Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices […] lawyers said occur at Homan Square. A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

[…] Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods. “I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

[…] Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations. 

The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said. “They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

Writing for The Intercept, Feb. 26, 2015, Juan Thompson describes the experiences of two Chicago black site detainees.

Kory Wright

Kory Wright

Kory Wright, a Chicago resident and computer program analyst, claims that 9 years ago, he spent some 6 brutal hours at Homan Square, zip-tied to a bench in an intentionally overheated room without access to water, phone, or a restroom. He was never read his Miranda rights and his arrest was not put into the police system until after he gave false statements to try and end his ordeal.

Eventually, Wright was taken to Cook County jail, where he was processed and charged with distribution of heroin and cocaine. In the end, the drug charges against Wright were thrown out, though not before he’d spent six months under house arrest because his mother lacked the money to fund a bond for release.

Deandre Hutcherson, a friend of Wright’s swept up in the same police raid, described attacks to his face and genitals. Hutcherson was shackled to a bench and was being interrogated in another room. “He [a Chicago police officer] gets up, walking toward me,” Hutcherson alleges. “I already know what’s finna happen. I brace myself, and he hit me a little bit and then take his foot and stepped on my groin.” According to Hutcherson, the officer struck him two or three times in the face before kicking his penis. “You must think I’m a fucking idiot,” Hutcherson says his attacker told him. Within an hour, Hutcherson, who was in town for his mother’s funeral, faked an asthma attack that unnerved the police. He says they then released him from detention and sent him on his way.

The Chicago Police Department declined to address the specific allegations from Wright and his friend, providing only a general statement denying abuses at Homan Square. “CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility,” the statement read. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.”

Kory Wright was attending Wilbur Wright Community College, and taking criminal justice courses, when he was detained at Homan. He says he had hopes of becoming a police officer in the city of Chicago before that June day. His experience at Homan, and his subsequent arrest, caused him to miss a semester of school. Fortunately, Wright recovered, and today, at age 29, he is working on his master’s degree in network engineering at DePaul University. He lives in Bronzeville, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, and is the father of a new baby girl. But the torture he says he suffered at Homan continues to haunt him. “The whole thing caused a rift between me and my mom. I didn’t like being black at all after that, and when I got to DePaul, I started trying to be as white as possible,” a doleful Wright told me. “Being black is a curse.”

Note: Kory Wright is now a programming analyst at Aon Hewitt. Here is his LinkedIn page. Send him a note of encouragement!

H/t Activist Post

~Éowyn