Tag Archives: Department of Defense

US Military Clears Itself of Blame in Syria Strike That Killed ‘Piles’ of Women and Children

“It’s the standard government line: Mistakes were made but there was no wrongdoing. But if the same mistakes were being made over and over again for years, shouldn’t someone have done something about it?”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Airstrike on Baghuz – March 2019. Photo: Voice of America {public domain}

No U.S. personnel will be held accountable for a March 2019 airstrike that killed scores of Syrian civilians including women and children, the Pentagon said Tuesday in announcing that an internal investigation into the massacre found that no laws of war were broken and that there was no cover-up of the incident as alleged in a New York Times exposé.

An executive summary of a classified investigation led by U.S. Army Gen. Michael Garrett stated that “no rules of engagement (ROE) or law of war (LOW) violations occurred” in connection with the March 18, 2019 strike near the Syrian town of Baghuz that, according to an initial battle assessment, killed around 70 people. Continue reading

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UN Chief Warns Humanity Is ‘Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation’

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26=2021

ICAN campaigners protest outside the permanent mission of Japan to the United Nations at Geneva, during the May session of the UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in May 2016. Photo: ICAN/flickr/CC

In remarks ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that humankind remains “unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation,” with roughly 14,000 atomic bombs stockpiled across the globe.

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good, eliminate nuclear weapons from our world, and usher in a new era of trust and peace,” said Guterres, who observed in a statement last week that hundreds of nuclear bombs are just a “pushed button away from being launched.” Continue reading

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Feds are increasing use of facial recognition systems – despite calls for a moratorium

Government agencies are increasingly using facial recognition technology, including through security cameras like this one being installed on the Lincoln Memorial in 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Despite growing opposition, the U.S. government is on track to increase its use of controversial facial recognition technology.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on Aug. 24, 2021, detailing current and planned use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies. The GAO surveyed 24 departments and agencies – from the Department of Defense to the Small Business Administration – and found that 18 reported using the technology and 10 reported plans to expand their use of it. Continue reading

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Dozens of House Dems and Progressive Groups Push Biden to Curb Militarization of Police

“It is absurd that the Pentagon has so much funding they can send their ‘excess’ weaponry to police departments around the country. We need to demilitarize our police and defund the Pentagon now.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2021

A SWAT vehicle, Fulton County Sheriff. Photo: Pinterest

Backed by more than 50 progressive advocacy groups, dozens of House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to issue an executive order to prevent the transfer of military-grade weaponry from the Pentagon to federal, tribal, state, and local police departments.

In a letter (pdf) sent to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, 29 lawmakers, led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), argue that taking executive action to reform the Defense Department’s 1033 program “is a reasonable step towards demilitarizing our police forces while preserving the safety of our communities.” Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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Google Workers Form Union to ‘Promote Solidarity, Democracy, and Social and Economic Justice’

The tech titan “has a responsibility to its thousands of workers and billions of users to make the world a better place,” two of the union’s leaders wrote. “We can help build that world.”

By 

The Googleplex (Google headquarters) in Mountain View, CA. Photo: The Pancake of Heaven!/CC

Decrying numerous policies and practices they say violate Google’s “don’t be evil” founding principle, more than 200 of the Silicon Valley tech giant’s workers on Monday announced they are forming a union, a move that was applauded by progressive lawmakers and labor advocates nationwide.

The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU)—named after Google’s parent corporation—says it “strives to protect Alphabet workers, our global society, and our world,” and to “promote solidarity, democracy, and social and economic justice.” It will operate as part of the Communications Workers of America and will be open to all 120,000 of the company’s employees.

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Quietly Signed Trump Order Denounced as ‘Declaration of War’ Against Federal Employees

The order sets up Trump’s “cronies to burrow into permanent jobs in the U.S. government,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-23-2020

Photo: AFGE

After years of complaining that career federal employees are part of the “deep state” and aim to undermine his administration, President Donald Trump this week took a major step toward remaking the federal government as one without nonpartisan civil servants—signing a little-noticed executive order that would strip potentially hundreds of thousands of government employees of their job security.

Under the order, signed late Wednesday, career federal employees could be fired with little or no cause, lose their right to due process, and potentially lose union representation. Continue reading

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DOJ Frees Federal Prosecutors to Take Steps That Could Interfere With Elections, Weakening Long-standing Policy

In an internal announcement, the Justice Department created an exception to a decadeslong policy meant to prevent prosecutors from taking overt investigative steps that might affect the outcome of the vote.

By Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott  Published 10-7-2020 by ProPublica

Department of Justice
Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

The Department of Justice has weakened its long-standing prohibition against interfering in elections, according to two department officials.

Avoiding election interference is the overarching principle of DOJ policy on voting-related crimes. In place since at least 1980, the policy generally bars prosecutors not only from making any announcement about ongoing investigations close to an election but also from taking public steps — such as an arrest or a raid — before a vote is finalized because the publicity could tip the balance of a race. Continue reading

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Why the US has nuclear weapons in Turkey – and may try to put the bombs away

A B-61 bomb, like the ones stored at the US Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. Flickr/Kelly Michals, CC BY-SA

Miles A. Pomper, Middlebury

As the Syrian crisis pits Turkish troops against former U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, Pentagon officials have been reviewing plans to remove 50 nuclear bombs stored at a U.S air base in Turkey.

A congressional directive to the Pentagon to quickly assess alternative homes for U.S. “personnel and assets” currently stationed at Incirlik Air Base is part of a broader bipartisan bill, still being debated, that proposes sanctions against Turkey. President Donald Trump has been forced to issue public reassurances that the weapons are secure. Continue reading

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Pentagon Pushed for Weakened Regulations on Toxic Chemicals, Endangering Drinking Water of Millions of Americans

The Trump administration “seems hell-bent on giving industrial and military polluters a pass despite the clear and present danger these chemicals represent for our health,” one critic said

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-26-2019

The U.S. Department of Defense pressured the EPA into rolling back a proposed groundwater clean-up standard, reducing military bases’ responsibility to cleaning up toxic chemical contamination. Photo: USAF

Lobbying from the Pentagon is to blame for the Trump administration’s latest environmental regulatory rollback, according to reports.

The EPA on Thursday released weakened guidelines for the clean-up of toxic groundwater pollution which could contaminate the drinking water millions of Americans use—after the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) called on the White House to intervene and have an earlier draft of the rules changed. Continue reading

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