The most senior U.S. military officer has said U.S. ground troops may be needed in Iraq as part of the Obama administration’s offensive against the Islamic State. General Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
General Martin Dempsey: “As I said in my statement, however, my view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true. But if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”
Dempsey’s remarks came less than a week after President Obama told the nation, “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” Obama is expected to visit U.S. Central Command headquarters today to discuss strategy in Iraq and Syria. The House meanwhile is expected to vote today on a request from Obama for authorization to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels.
Tuesday’s Senate hearing was repeatedly interrupted by peace activists from CodePink, who rose to protest U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria at least four times in the first hour. This is CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin addressing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Medea Benjamin: “Hey Hagel, U.S. intervention will only make matters worse. We know that there is no military solution. It is counterproductive. Look at the last 13 years of war. What is the product? The U.S. invasion of Iraq opened the way for ISIL. It’s the U.S. intervention that opened the way for ISIL. U.S. military will not be a solution. It is counterproductive. Don’t drag us into another war. We’ve had 13 years of war already.”
The conflict among factions in Syria has been intensifying ahead of possible U.S. strikes against Islamic State fighters there. Two days of Syrian government airstrikes have killed at least 48 people in Homs province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least six children are among the dead. Islamic State fighters, meanwhile, announced they had shot down a Syrian military aircraft in the northern city of Raqqa.
In the Syrian province of Idlib, at least 34 children are said to have died after receiving tainted doses of a measles vaccine. The Syrian rebel coalition, which was running the program, said supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime may have tampered with the vaccines. They said the doses were supplied by UNICEF and the World Health Organization by way of the Turkish government. The death toll is expected to rise as many children are seriously ill.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has weighed in on the debate over the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Manning, who served as an analyst in Iraq, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian, ”ISIS cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets.” She suggested a strategy of containing ISIS and allowing them to lose power and popularity over time.
Chelsea Manning, previously known as Bradley, is currently serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. A year ago, Manning announced she identified as a woman and planned to seek hormone therapy. Last month the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the Pentagon for withholding treatment for her transition, saying, “It is cruel and unusual punishment to withhold from Ms. Manning the care that the military’s own doctors have deemed medically necessary.”
President Obama is warning a record outbreak of Ebola could claim hundreds of thousands of lives. Speaking Tuesday Obama announced the deployment of equipment and 3,000 troops to West Africa, where more than 2,500 people have died.
President Obama: “At the request of the Liberian government, we’re going to establish a military command center in Liberia to support civilian efforts across the region, similar to our response after the Haiti earthquake. It’s going to be commanded by Major General Darryl Williams, commander of our Army forces in Africa. He just arrived today and is now on the ground in Liberia. And our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and control, in logistics, in engineering. And our Department of Defense is better at that, our Armed Services are better at that, than any organization on Earth.”
A U.S. doctor who survived Ebola has criticized the lack global response to the crisis. Dr. Kent Brantly recovered after being flown home from Liberia and receiving one of a handful of doses of an experimental drug. Speaking on Tuesday, Brantly acknowledged the Ebola crisis had received relatively little coverage until he and another U.S. missionary fell ill.
Dr. Kent Brantly: “This unprecedented outbreak received very little notice from the international community until those events of mid-July when Nancy Writebol and I became infected. Since that time, there has been intense media attention and increased awareness of the situation on the ground in West Africa. The response to date, however, has remained sluggish and unacceptably out of step with the scope and the size of the problem that is now before us.”
According to the World Health Organization, both the total number of Ebola cases and the number of people killed have roughly doubled over the past couple weeks, with more than 5,000 total cases. The agency has announced about $1 billion will be needed to contain the crisis, which it called “unparalleled in modern times.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has acknowledged the United States could improve its treatment of family members whose loved ones are held hostage by the Islamic State. His remarks come after the mother of James Foley, who was executed by ISIS, criticized the U.S. treatment of her son’s case, saying officials told her she could face prosecution if she tried to raise ransom to free her son. Responding to New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Hagel defended the U.S. policy of not paying ransoms to terrorists, but acknowledged room for improvement in other areas.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “I think we could and should maybe revisit some of these practices. Now, our national security policy directive, as you know, is very clear on ransom. That’s been in place for many, many years, through different administrations. I’m not suggesting we change that, by the way.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: “I appreciate that.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “But I think maybe there are some areas that we could do a little better with, as far as in dealing with families and the human part of this.”
The Obama administration has announced a delay in its most sweeping effort to date to combat climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the public comment period on a proposal to curb carbon emissions from power plants by another 45 days until December 1, after the midterm elections. The plan has faced major opposition from industry lobbyists and both Republican lawmakers and their Democratic counterparts from coal-producing states. The delay comes just a week before delegates and protesters from around the world gather in New York City for a U.N. summit, and two days before that, the People’s Climate March against global warming.
Former President Bill Clinton has been caught on tape agreeing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “not the guy” to reach a long-term peace deal with the Palestinians. At a Democratic fundraiser in Iowa, C-SPAN recorded Clinton defending his own record in past negotiations as he chatted with a member of the public, who criticized Netanyahu.
Man: “If we don’t force him to make peace, we will not have peace.”
Bill Clinton: “First of all, I agree with that. But in 2000, Ehud Barak, I got him to agree to something that I’m not sure I could have gotten Rabin to agree to, and Rabin was murdered for giving land to the Palestinians.”
Man: “I agree. So, but Netanyahu is not the guy.”
Bill Clinton: “I agree with that.”
Bill Clinton’s comments differ sharply from the public stances of his wife, potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has defended Netanyahu, including over this summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza.
Police in Utah are facing questions over the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old African-American man. Darrien Hunt was shot dead outside a restaurant in Saratoga Springs last Wednesday. Utah County authorities said he was shot after lunging at officers with a Samurai-style sword. But Randall Edwards, an attorney for Hunt’s family, told HuffPost Live that autopsy results contradict that claim.
Randall Edwards: “The family has had an independent autopsy done, in which it indicates that he was shot six times. None of those shots entered from the front, and the one that killed him hit him right in the middle of the back. The others were in his shoulder, there were two in his leg, there was one in his elbow and one in his hand. So it begs the question, of course: How is it that someone ends up shot in the back if he is shot while he is lunging toward the officers?”
On Monday, authorities changed their account, telling The Guardian that Hunt allegedly lunged at officers outside a bank that was actually several dozen yards from where he ultimately died. Authorities also said the two police officers involved had not been interviewed yet, a delay which the family’s attorney called “almost incomprehensible.” One of the officers was scheduled to be interviewed yesterday and the second tomorrow, more than a week after the shooting. Hunt’s mother, Susan, told reporters she believes her son was racially profiled. “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away,” she said. Surveillance footage from the scene has been obtained by authorities.
The National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings have reversed course and barred star running back Adrian Peterson from all team activities following an outcry over his indictment for child abuse. The Vikings previously reinstated Peterson after benching him for a game. He is accused of beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch. The controversy prompted the Radisson hotel chain to suspend its sponsorship of the team on Monday. The Vikings team now says it has placed Peterson on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list, which prevents him from participating in team activities.
President Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has formally withdrawn following opposition over his ties to the legal defense of imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Senate rejected the nomination of Debo Adegbile in March following a fight that focused almost solely on his role as part of an NAACP Legal Defense Fund team that successfully argued the trial judge’s jury instructions violated Abu-Jamal’s rights in his conviction for killing a Philadelphia police officer. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Adegbile said the Obama administration did not expect such scrutiny over that case. “I think if you look into it, it would be a rare situation in which somebody was blocked from public service for having successfully vindicated the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced its list of 21 “Genius Grant” winners for 2014. Among the grantees are filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, who made the Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Act of Killing,” about U.S.-backed death squad leaders in Indonesia, and Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Other winners include cartoonist Alison Bechdel, Jonathan Rapping, founder of a program to train public defenders in the South, and Sarah Deer, a professor and advocate for Native American women facing domestic violence and sexual abuse. The winners will receive $625,000 to spend however they choose.