Cairo Erupts; The Petraeus-Broadwell affair resurfaces; Remember Bowie Bergdahl; Did the Brass monkey in the USMC urination video case? Snowden and cybersecurity laws; and a bit more.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets across Egypt yesterday protesting the government of the nation's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsy and his conservative Islamic political party, the Muslim Brotherhood. As many as seven people died in street violence yesterday and protestors burned the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters. Still, the Army appears to be refraining from getting involved, so far, in defending the government and there are reports of cheers going up among protestors when Army choppers appeared over the presidential palace. Egypt's economy has been on the rocks since the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
From David Kenner, FP's man on the ground in Cairo:
"The daytime crowd in Tahrir crossed religious and socioeconomic lines -- old women in black hijabs shouted irhal, or ‘leave,' next to youths carrying crosses, who chanted ‘Christians and Muslims are one hand.' Protesters carried red cards -- both a reference to a soccer penalty and a message to Morsy that they wanted to force him from the political playing field. ‘This is not a warning, this is a red card, you donkey,' read one poster (it rhymes in Arabic).The reputation of the Egyptian military has also undergone a significant revival among anti-Muslim Brotherhood forces. Cheers erupted from the crowd when army helicopters flew over the square; one protester turned to me to explain, ‘They're here to protect us.' Meanwhile, the U.S. government has become the bête noire of protesters, who blame Washington for propping up the Morsy administration. Tattered pictures of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, with a giant red ‘X' through her face, littered the ground of the square. Meanwhile, a large poster declaring ‘Obama Supports Terrorism' had pride of place at the center of the demonstration."
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The Pentagon's Inspector General Didn't Subpoena all of Gen. John Allen's Emails With Tampa Socialite Jill Kelley.
Democratic Rep. Jackie Spier of California is calling for a new investigation into the communications between former Centcom chief Gen. John Allen (retired) and Jill Kelley. As we remember too well, Kelley played a key role in the events last year that lead to revelations that then-CIA director and retired Army four-star general David Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. "The fact that they didn't even pursue accessing the private e-mails is very disturbing to me," USA Today quotes Speier as saying. "Because it would suggest that it was an incomplete investigation at the very least. At the worst: (they were) intentionally not pursuing an investigation into whether or not there was an inappropriate relationship, secrecy, national security breaches. Classified information."
The IG cleared Allen, who retired in the wake of the scandal, of any inappropriate behavior and is therefore withholding its unclassified report on its investigation into his relationship with Kelley.
Speier says that Allen and Kelley, an unpaid "social liaison" to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, exchanged about 3,000 emails between 2010 and 2012, only 41 of which were investigated.
Here's more from the USAT article:
"So that's two years, 1,500 e-mails a year,' Speier said. ‘I don't think I communicate with my husband by e-mail more than 150 times a year. That's a lot of e-mails. This is a four-star general in the middle of a war zone. The most disturbing part of my discussion with them was that they requested access to his private e-mail and were denied access and took it no further.'
Access to Allen's private e-mail is critical, she said. Petraeus and Broadwell used private accounts to communicate, and Allen's must be examined as well. "I'm not interested in a Peyton Place review," she said. "I do think the American people and certainly the Congress of the United States deserves to know that there was a comprehensive investigation."
ISAF marks the four-year anniversary of the kidnapping of Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl, the only U.S. POW of the Afghan war.
Fort Richardson, Alaska-based infantryman, Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban on July 3, 3009 in Paktika province near the Afghan border with Pakistan. While the exact circumstances of the 27-year old Hailey Idaho native's capture are unknown, the U.S. has been negotiating with the Taliban for his release for years.
"Four years later, we are still waiting for Sgt. Bergdahl's safe return, and it is my sincere hope that the wait will soon come to an end. To Sgt. Bergdahl's family, I want to say that we know you have not given up hope, and neither have we," said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Commander of ISAF on Sunday.
American officials had hoped to negotiate a release of Begdahl in exchange for the transfer of five Taliban prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to a facility in Qatar. Those talks fell through when the Taliban rejected U.S. efforts to make sure the prisoners did not end up back on the battlefield. That proposal was a part of a U.S. effort to negotiate a peace with the Taliban prior to NATO's withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, the big challenge right now in the Afghan peace process appears to be getting Taliban to simply sit down at the table with the Afghan government, who the militants don't seem to take too seriously. Click here to read the latest on this from AFP.
Is Marine Corps Brass Really Trying to Influence the Urination Video Trial? New documents obtained by Marine Corps Times suggest that might actually be the case. Marine Capt. James Clement was charged with dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer after video emerged showing four enlisted scout snipers under his command urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Helmand, Afghanistan in July 2011. A total of eight people have been charged in the case, six of who have seen their cases resolved.
Also controversial is the way in which the case has been handled. A Marine Corps Inspector General investigated whether the Corps' leadership, possibly including Commandant Gen. James Amos, has been manipulating the trial to ensure a harsh punishment is given to those involved.
From Marine Corps Times: "Court documents and emails obtained by Marine Corps Times suggest the Marine Corps has sought to block Capt. James Clement's attorneys from accessing evidence they say exonerates their client and would ensure he receives a fair trial. The material includes witness statements recorded more than a year ago during separate investigations into the urination video - one conducted by the Corps, the other by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service - plus related communication between the commandant, his legal advisers and several Marine generals.
"The witness interviews, including testimony by Clement and others in his unit, were inappropriately classified as "secret" on orders from the commandant's civilian counsel, Robert Hogue, and the Marine Corps has continued to make it difficult to access the materials despite subsequent orders to declassify them, according to a motion filed June 21 by attorneys John Dowd and Maj. Joseph Grimm.
Situation Report clarifies - In am item Friday we reported that State's outgoing Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine was headed to The George Washington University this fall, we also mistakenly referred to Georgetown University. Sonenshine is in fact headed to The George Washington University only. Apologies for the confusion. #weknowbetter.
Photo of the Day: Apaches Over Egypt
This amazing AFP photo shows what appears to be an Egyptian military AH-64 Apache gunship being illuminated by dozens of protestors' laser pointers as it flies over the massive Sunday night protests in Cairo.
Also: Be sure to read this great New York Times piece highlighting the complex relationship between Morsy and the Egyptian security forces.
Will the Edward Snowden Affair Damage Efforts to Pass Cybersecurity Laws? Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told an audience at the Brookings Institution last Thursday that the country shouldn't "conflate" the NSA's gathering of individuals' records and the government's desire to be able to pass cyber threat signatures between government agencies and private businesses. The former program is used to find terrorists while the latter is aimed at hunting for malicious software, he said. However, privacy and civil liberties advocates say the most recent revelations bolster the need for strict privacy protections in any cybersecurity legislation, the The Hill newspaper reported over the weekend. "It highlights the need for really robust privacy safeguards," the paper quoted Sharon Bradford Franklin, a senior counsel with the Constitution Project, as saying. "If nothing else, we've seen that the government will interpret its surveillance authorities aggressively and push to the bounds -- and perhaps beyond the bounds -- of what the text of the law appears to permit."
The House has already passed the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). That bill allows businesses to quickly share information on cyber threats with each other and the government while giving them immunity from lawsuits for improperly sharing personal data or violating anti-trust laws while doing so. The latest version of CISPA bars the government from using information collected under the auspices of the bill to place a U.S. citizen under surveillance. Still, privacy advocates and the White House say the bill doesn't do enough to ensure that the digital information being shared is scrubbed of any personal information about Internet users. Click here to read more about CISPA and the Senate's effort to draft an information-sharing cybersecurity bill.
- The Stans Washington Post: 49 killed in Pakistan as British PM visits.
- Stars and Stripes: Afghanistan's military needs more medics.
- New York Times: It looks like Qatar has been the source of those shoulder-fired surface to air missiles we've seen in the hands of Syrian rebels.
- Kyodo News: 12 more U.S. MV-22 Ospreys set to arrive in Japan China, U.S. war over Snowden, no lasting damage seen.
- Reuters: China agrees to talks with its neighbors to diffuse tensions over South China Sea territorial claims.
- AP: European Union officials are angry that the U.S. bugged E.U. facilities
- Military Times: No Fireworks at a number of bases