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06 August 2017

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A. Pols

And why not?
We seem to delight in appointing ambassadors who are a "thumb in the eye" to the host nations. Think Michael Mcfoul.
Would it be too much to appoint people who spoke the language and had some clue about the history and culture of the nation they were sent into as representatives of ours?

robt willmann

On the subject of Iraq, a development occurred this past Friday, 4 August 2017, when the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion in the appeal of the criminal convictions of the Blackwater personnel in the shootings, injuries, and deaths of at least 31 civilians in and around Nisur Square in Baghdad, on 16 September 2007. The federal courts of appeals use panels of three judges to decide an appeal, except in rare instances when all the judges on a court of appeals will hear and decide a case, which is called "en banc". This opinion was by a three judge panel and is 119 pages long, including concurring and dissenting opinions; the main part is 87 pages. The four "private contractors" who were found guilty and sentenced to prison all had their cases reversed, in whole or in part. They are: Nicholas Slatten (who gets a new trial), and Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard (whose sentences were vacated and they are to be re-sentenced). The opinion and decision can be viewed and downloaded here--

https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/6A43E282E3DC9FFE852581720053CBB5/$file/15-3078.pdf

The opinion is actually interesting to read, although you will have to get through the "legal reasoning", which in the legal system is sometimes an oxymoron or contradiction in terms. Some important issues were raised: the scope of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), whether a defendant gets a separate trial when hearsay evidence favorable to him from a co-defendant is available, and whether a 30-year mandatory sentence violates the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Former Senator Jeff Sessions, now the Attorney General, was the main sponsor in 2004 of enlarging the scope of the MEJA, and his involvement is discussed on page 8 of the opinion. That law is Title 18, U.S. Code, section 3261--

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3261

This law is a little confusing, in that part 'd' should be first as part 'a'. Part 'd' says--

"(d) No prosecution may be commenced against a member of the Armed Forces subject to chapter 47 of title 10 (the Uniform Code of Military Justice) under this section unless—

(1) such member ceases to be subject to such chapter; or

(2) an indictment or information charges that the member committed the offense with one or more other defendants, at least one of whom is not subject to such chapter."

Persons covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) are in Title 10, U.S. Code, section 802--

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/802

If you are covered by the UCMJ, you cannot be tried for a violation of U.S. criminal law outside of the U.S. through the MEJA unless you "[commit] the offense with one or more other defendants, at least one of whom is not subject to such chapter [UCMJ]".

Thus, if you are a soldier in the U.S. military, you might do well to avoid going out on operations with private contractors / mercenaries. Otherwise, you might find yourself roped in by the MEJA and subject to the regular federal criminal laws of the U.S., and there are a lot of them.

The 30-year mandatory sentences were given under what is often called a "machinegun count". For a federal court to decide that prison sentences violate the 8th Amendment is very unusual. The discussion begins on page 69 of the opinion. One of the judges dissented and said that the 30-year mandatory minimum sentence was OK; his part of the opinion starts on page 95.

Fred

The Daily Beast is interesting piece. Alt-right, enemies lists, right wing bloggers and media outlets, and oh boy, Russian troll bots. I wonder if the later are like Russian caviar - expensive and a bit salty? Ithe seems the swamp is just like junior high; or at least the reporting reads that way.

Cortes

Maybe he could be the first Ambassador to Mars. His invisible language and cultural skills should prove invaluable in ensuring amicable relations with the Red Planet.

Linda

I love the irony, but please don't even think that scary thought

The Virginian

One fairly credible source commented to me privately that Harvey does have at least some understanding of Arabic, and was used by Petraeus and Abizaid to translate on occasion, and that he did venture out of BIAP and the IZ on occasion. I cannot confirm one way or the other. Regardless, the essence of policies pushed by Harvey while at the NSC and before deserve scrutiny and critique. The COIN effort in Iraq was destined to fail as the length of time and depth of investment (political, economic, military) needed to create the potential for any lasting change was never going to happen - this was apparent from the beginning (and before). What happens in Iraq will be decided in the main by the Iraqis themselves. The US should refocus on determining what is truly in the national interest then match tactics to that strategy.

LondonBob

So supposedly 'The Russians' are mounting a campaign, through their extensive penetration of the US media and propensity to meddle, against McMaster due to their outrage at his sacking of the three Zionist stooges. Nothing 'The Russians' want more than the Syrian war to continue and regime change in Iran, of course.

Have seen it alleged Cohen-Watnick was Mike Cernovich's source for his anti-McMaster stories, then dutifully repeated by Eli Lake. Maybe I have been too harsh on McMaster, perhaps instead he was one of the people blocking the three stooges desire to escalate in Syria.

turcopolier

Virginian

Someone is pulling your leg. Harvey doesn't attempt to claim any Arabic in any of his CV documents and really brave men who were preset in that circle in Iraq scoff at the idea of him prowling around the back country. John Abizaid went to graduate school at the University of Jordan and attended the Jordanian Army staff college. He does not need anyone to translate for him with Arabic. pl

turcopolier

Linda

Oh, come on, Derek could BS his way out a position as guest of honor at a cannibal feast. He will be back. how is his Arabic? pl

mike

We need more Olmsted scholars. Unfortunately, each year some of their scholarships do not receive applications.

The Virginian

A good point re Abizaid, but of course! My source, though a decent chap, is not an Arabic speaker thus he would not be able to judge. I've never met DH, but if I do will see if he can at least carry a conversation.

turcopolier

The Virginian
Harvey's CV says he has minimal capability in French and Farsi. In other words he can't speak those languages either and I don't believe the feats of derring do business is true either, but he will probably be back. pl

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