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Posts tagged ‘Imperial Land of Impeda’

Witness: Navy SEAL called dead prisoner an ‘ISIS dirtbag’

June 20, 2019

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A decorated Navy SEAL suddenly plunged a knife into the neck of a wounded young Islamic State prisoner, killing him, and later scoffed that he was “just an ISIS dirtbag,” former comrades testified at a war crimes trial.

Dylan Dille and Craig Miller took the stand Wednesday at the San Diego court-martial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder stemming from his 2017 tour of duty in Iraq.

More former SEALs were expected to testify on Thursday in a case that has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump and revealed a rare rift in the typically tightknit elite special forces. Testifying on the second day of trial, Dille said when a radio call announced the prisoner was wounded on May 3, 2017, Gallagher replied: “Don’t touch him, he’s all mine.”

The captive was on the hood of a Humvee fading in an out of consciousness with only a minor leg wound visible when Iraqi forces delivered him to a SEAL compound in Mosul. Dille said he was not the grizzled warrior he expected to find.

“He looked about 12 years old,” Dille said. “He had a wrist watch around his bicep. He was rail thin.” Gallagher, a trained medic, began treating the boy’s injuries. When he applied pressure to his leg wound, the boy shot up in pain.

Miller, a then-Special Warfare Operator 1st Class who has since been promoted to chief, said he put his foot on the boy’s chest to keep him down. Miller briefly stepped away and said when he returned he saw Gallagher unexpectedly plunge a knife twice into the boy’s neck “right here on the right side in the jugular vein,” he said tapping the spot above the collar of his dress whites.

Blood spurted out and another SEAL jumped back and grabbed his medical bag, Miller said. Defense lawyers say Gallagher treated the prisoner for a collapsed lung suffered in a blast from an air strike. He made an incision in his throat to insert a tube to clear the airway.

They claim that disgruntled sailors fabricated the murder accusations because he was a demanding platoon leader and they didn’t want him promoted. Miller said he immediately reported the stabbing to an officer, but didn’t pursue a more formal complaint until months after returning from deployment.

He acknowledged he never took photos of the enemy’s wounds or tried to document the incident. No corpse was ever recovered, no autopsy was performed and no forensic evidence was gathered. Miller struggled with recalling details from that day. He didn’t remember the platoon flying a drone over the dead body — not even after seeing video in court that showed him smiling nearby.

After the boy died, Gallagher’s re-enlistment ceremony was conducted next to the corpse. Miller and other troops were in photos of the event. Later that day, Dille said Gallagher confronted him and other senior enlisted men and said he knew they were upset with what happened.

“This was just an ISIS dirtbag,” Dille said Gallagher told the group. Defense lawyer Tim Parlatore questioned why Dille never confronted Gallagher or reported him to superiors until after deployment. Parlatore also accused Dille, Miller and other officers who discussed concerns about Gallagher in a chat room of coordinating a campaign to oust Gallagher.

“My truth is watertight, Mr. Parlatore,” Dille said. Dille also said that he also believed Gallagher had fired at Iraqi civilians from a sniper’s position several times, including an instance on June 18, 2017, when an old man was shot by the Tigris River.

Dille was also a sniper and was near Gallagher during the shootings but didn’t see him pull the trigger. After hearing a gunshot coming from Gallagher’s position and seeing the old man fall, Dille said he looked through his scope and saw the man bleeding through his white clothing. He said Gallagher then radioed that he thought he had missed the old man.

Defense lawyer Marc Mukasey objected to the testimony, saying descriptions of the alleged shootings were “wildly vague.” Gallagher, who served eight tours of duty and earned two Bronze Stars for valor, was in the courtroom in his dress uniform with a chest full of medals. His wife, parents and brother also attended.

His family has lobbied intensely for his freedom, claiming he was being treated unfairly. Congressional Republicans took up his cause and prevailed on Trump to release Gallagher from the brig into better conditions in a military hospital. Trump also is reportedly considering a pardon for Gallagher.

A judge released Gallagher from custody last month after prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by tracking defense attorney emails in an effort to find who leaked court documents to reporters.

Melley reported from Los Angeles.

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North Korea hails ‘historic’ Kim-Trump summit

By Sunghee Hwang

Seoul (AFP)

July 1, 2019

North Korea on Monday hailed the weekend meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in the Demilitarized Zone as “historic”, as analysts said Pyongyang was looking to shape the narrative to its own agenda.

The two leaders agreed to “resume and push forward productive dialogues for making a new breakthrough in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

After a Twitter invitation by the US president on Saturday, the two men met a day later in the strip of land that has divided the peninsula for 66 years since the end of the Korean War, when the two countries and their allies fought each other to a standstill.

Kim and Trump shook hands over the concrete slabs dividing North and South before Trump walked a few paces into Pyongyang’s territory — the first US president ever to set foot on North Korean soil.

“The top leaders of the DPRK and the US exchanging historic handshakes at Panmunjom” was an “amazing event”, KCNA said, describing the truce village as a “place that had been known as the symbol of division” and referring to past “inglorious relations” between the countries.

The impromptu meeting in the DMZ — where the US president said they agreed to resume working-level talks within weeks on the North’s nuclear program — was full of symbolism.

Trump’s border-crossing — which he said was uncertain until the last moment — was an extraordinary sequel to the scene at Kim’s first summit with Moon Jae-in last year, when the young leader invited the South Korean president to walk over the Military Demarcation Line, as the border is officially known.

“It was an honor that you asked me to step over that line, and I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim.

Pictures from the meeting — including a sequence of images from the two men emerging from opposite sides for a handshake and a skip across the border — were splashed across the front page of the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which carried 35 images in total.

Shin Beom-chul, an analyst at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies, said the KCNA report was “typical North Korean propaganda that glorified Kim as leading the tremendous changes in geopolitics”.

– ‘Mysterious force’ –

Analysts have been divided by Sunday’s events, some saying they spurred new momentum into deadlocked nuclear talks, while others described them as “reality show theatrics”.

The first Trump-Kim summit took place in a blaze of publicity in Singapore last year but produced only a vaguely worded pledge about denuclearisation.

A second meeting in Vietnam in February collapsed after the pair failed to reach an agreement over sanctions relief and what the North was willing to give in return.

Contact between the two sides has since been minimal — with Pyongyang issuing frequent criticisms of the US position — but the two leaders exchanged a series of letters before Trump issued his offer to meet at the DMZ.

Regional powerhouse China on Monday said renewed discussions between North Korea and the United States are of “great significance”.

“It is hoped that all parties concerned will seize the opportunity, move in the same direction, actively explore effective solutions to each other’s concerns and make progress on the peninsula,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.

Trump’s historic gesture came over a week after Xi Jinping made the first visit to Pyongyang by a Chinese president in 14 years — a trip which analysts had said Xi may use as leverage in his own trade talks with Trump that concluded with a truce at the G20.

As well as the working-level talks, Trump also floated the idea of sanctions relief — repeatedly demanded by Pyongyang — and said he invited the North Korean leader to the White House.

Such a trip would have to come “at the right time”, he added.

KCNA was less specific, saying Kim and Trump discussed “issues of mutual concern and interest which become a stumbling block”.

Trump regularly calls Kim a “friend” and KCNA cited the North Korean leader as lauding their “good personal relations”, saying they would “produce good results unpredictable by others and work as a mysterious force overcoming manifold difficulties and obstacles”.

Vipin Narang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said the North was portraying Kim as “being courted by Trump”…

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/North_Korea_hails_historic_Kim-Trump_summit_999.html.

Iran says downed US drone recovered in its territorial waters

By Sebastian Smith with Marc Jourdier in Tehran

Washington (AFP)

June 20, 2019

Iran said Thursday it had recovered parts of a US spy drone in its territorial waters, after downing the aircraft in a missile strike slammed by President Donald Trump as a “big mistake.”

Under pressure to respond to the high-stakes incident in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, where a series of tanker attacks have sent tensions soaring with Iran, Trump initially struck a combative tone.

“Iran made a very big mistake!” he tweeted in response to news Iran had shot down the Global Hawk surveillance aircraft — which the Pentagon says was above international waters at the time.

“This country will not stand for it, that I can tell you,” he said later at the White House.

But as the overnight incident whipped up fears of open conflict between the United States and its declared foe Iran — sending crude oil prices up more than six percent — Trump moved swiftly to dial back tensions.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

The president’s mixed message left the world unsure what Washington’s next move would be.

“You will find out,” Trump said, when asked about possible retaliation.

In Tehran, however, the message came loud and clear.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced late Thursday that parts of the drone had been recovered in Iranian territorial waters, as Tehran moved to bring the incident before the United Nations.

“We don’t seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters,” Zarif said.

– Drone violating or victim? –

The Pentagon denounced the “unprovoked attack,” claiming the navy drone was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Iran when destroyed by a surface-to-air missile.

But the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it brought the drone down as it was “violating Iranian air space” over the waters of Hormozgan province.

Zarif provided coordinates to back the claim.

“At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace,” Zarif tweeted. “It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25?59’43″N 57?02’25″E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.”

“We’ve retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.”

But the Pentagon published a map showing the flight path of the drone, which indicated it traveled outside of Iranian waters and included a photograph showing it was at the coordinates (25?57’42″N 56?50’22″E) when it was downed.

In a letter to the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Iran protested against a “dangerous and provocative act by the U.S. military forces against the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The drone downing came as Iran was already accused by Washington of carrying out attacks on oil tankers in the congested Hormuz area.

Tehran denies involvement but has frequently threatened to block the sea lanes used to ship much of the world’s oil exports.

The commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, Sean Kido, said a mine allegedly used in one of the attacks matched Iranian weaponry and that incriminating fingerprints had also been collected.

– Options ‘running out?’ –

Trump has repeatedly said he does not favor war with Iran unless it is to stop the country getting a nuclear weapon — something Iranian leaders insist they are not pursuing.

But Trump critics say his policy of “maximum pressure” — including crippling economic sanctions, abandonment of an international deal to regulate Iran’s nuclear activities, and deployment of extra troops to the region — make war ever more likely.

A key Republican ally of Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham, said the president’s “options are running out.”

Asked if he believed the countries were nearing conflict, he replied: “I think anybody would believe that we’re one step closer.”

“They shot down an American asset well within international waters trying to assess the situation. What are you supposed to do?”

One of Trump’s biggest opponents, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, warned that “there’s no appetite for wanting to go to war in our country.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu blasted “Iranian aggression” and said “Israel stands by the United States.”

But Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has close relations with Iran’s leadership, said US military retaliation “would be a disaster for the region.”

– Diplomatic, military brinkmanship –

Trump’s arrival in the White House, alongside veteran Mideast hawks like national security adviser John Bolton, has seen sharp deterioration in relations with Tehran.

Trump began last May by abandoning — and effectively wrecking — the 2015 international agreement on bringing Iran in from the diplomatic cold in exchange for verified controls on its nuclear industry.

That has prompted Iran to threaten it will stop observing restrictions agreed to under the deal on enrichment of uranium.

The threat has been seen as an effort to pressure European governments that want to save the nuclear deal to push back against Washington. The US State Department called that “extortion.”

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iran_says_downed_US_drone_recovered_in_its_territorial_waters_999.html.

Russian-US crew arrives at International Space Station

March 15, 2019

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A Russian-American crew arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, five months after a botched launch led to an emergency landing for two of the three astronauts.

This time, the Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off precisely as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:14 a.m. Friday (1914 GMT Thursday).

Six hours later, their capsule docked at the orbiting outpost. On Oct. 11, a Soyuz carrying Hague and Ovchinin failed two minutes into flight, activating a rescue system that allowed their capsule to land safely. That accident was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.

On Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the crew on a successful launch. “So proud of Nick Hague for persevering through last October’s launch that didn’t go as planned,” he tweeted.

Speaking at a pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, the astronauts said they trusted the rocket and fully believed in the success of their mission. “I’m 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spacecraft,” Hague said. “The events from October only helped to solidify that and boost confidence in the vehicle to do its job.”

The trio will join NASA’s Anne McClain, Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency who are already on the space station. They will conduct work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

When one of the four strap-on boosters for their Soyuz failed to separate properly two minutes after their launch in October, Hague and Ovchinin were jettisoned from the rocket. Their rescue capsule plunged steeply back to Earth with its lights flashing and alarms screaming, subjecting the crew to seven times the force of gravity.

Hague emphasized Wednesday that they were well-trained for the emergency. “The nature of our profession is we spend 90-95 percent of our time practicing what to do when things go wrong,” he said. “And so we spend all that time training, running through all those scenarios. And because we do train that way, like in October when things like that happened, we were ready to do what we need to do to come out successfully.”

The October failure was the first aborted launch for the Russian space program in 35 years and only the third in history. Each time, the rocket’s automatic rescue system kept the crew safe. A Russian investigation attributed October’s launch failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket’s final assembly. The next crew launch to the space station in December went on without a hitch.

Ovchinin recalled that they felt “more annoyed than stressed” when their rescue capsule touched down in the barren steppes of Kazakhstan. “It was disappointing and a bit frustrating that we didn’t make it to the International Space Station,” he said.

NASA and Roscosmos praised the crew’s valor and composure in the aborted launch and promised to quickly give them a second chance into space. “We don’t accept the risk blindly, we have mitigated it as much as we can, and we always plan to be successful,” Hague said.

Ovchinin stressed that the aborted launch in October was an “interesting and very useful experience” that “proved the reliability of the emergency rescue system.” Since the 2011 retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft have been the only vehicles that ferry crews to the space station.

NASA, however, is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts later this year. The SpaceX ship Dragon returned Friday from a six-day test flight to the space station and could take astronauts there on its next flight as early as this summer.

Isachenkov reported from Moscow.

U.S., Italian F-35As integrate for first time in Astral Knight exercise

by Ed Adamczyk

Washington (UPI)

Jun 7, 2019

The U.S. Air Force announced the completion of a large air-and-missile defense exercise, involving F-35A fighter planes, in Europe.

“Astral Knight 2019” was the first involvement of the planes in a large-scale multinational exercise. It focused on simulated defense of several key areas of terrain from cruise-missile and aircraft strikes. U.S. military forces worked closely with NATO coalition forces of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia at various locations across Europe, conducting operational and cyber scenarios.

The fifth-generation F-35A Lightning IIs and personnel were brought from Hill AFB, Utah, to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in May for exercises and to train with other Europe-based aircraft. The squadron includes the 388th and Reserve 419th and 421st Fighter Wings of the U.S. Air Force.

In a four-day exercise ending on Thursday, the Air Force flew eight sorties per day. For the first time, U.S. Air Force F-35As integrated operationally with Italian air force F-35As. They communicated with each other over the Multifunction Advanced Data Link, a system unique to the plane’s platform.

“It’s truly rewarding to see that we can leverage all the capabilities of the F-35A, which we have all been working toward,” said Lt. Col. Brad Klemesrud, 421st Fighter Wing Squadron deputy commander. “In an exercise this large and complex, you get the opportunity to see how theory meets reality and put into practice what’s only been on paper.”

The exercise, deemed a success, also tested the capabilities of maintenance teams.

“This is the first overseas location that the 421st AMU’s [Aircraft Mantenance Unit] F-35As has gone to,” said MSgt. John Ott, 421st AMU F-35A expediter. “Our duties include daily servicing and inspections, as well as logistics and coordination control to receive support on our aircraft and maintainers 24/7.”…

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_Italian_F-35As_integrate_for_first_time_in_Astral_Knight_exercise_999.html.

US and Japan partner on future moon mission

by Olufemi Terry for Share America

Washington DC (VOA)

May 30, 2019

At a May meeting in Washington, U.S. and Japanese officials affirmed the desire for continued scientific cooperation between the two countries. They collaborate on space exploration, space and earth science, and aeronautics research.

In one important example, NASA, the U.S. space agency, plans an infrastructure to sustain humans on and around the moon with assistance from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

President Trump’s Space Policy Directive 1 instructs NASA to lead a program of exploration with commercial and international partners to the moon.

Building on more than two decades of partnership – along with the Canadian, Russian and European space agencies – in the International Space Station program, NASA and JAXA are discussing the Gateway, a small spaceship to orbit the moon. The Gateway will support humans on the moon and provide experience that could boost future exploration of Mars.

NASA plans to land the first women and the next men on the moon’s surface by 2024, and JAXA is collaborating on possible robotic missions that could support human activities on the moon.

Beyond the moon

On XRISM, the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, which will launch in early 2021 to investigate X-rays emitted by stars, quasars and black holes, the agencies’ roles are reversed: JAXA leads, and NASA contributes key components.

In the coming days, as Trump visits Japan, he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek to extend the two countries’ cooperation into other areas.

Source: Moon Daily.

Link: http://www.moondaily.com/reports/US_and_Japan_partner_on_future_moon_mission_999.html.

In a summit first, Kim Jong Un takes US media questions

February 28, 2019

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — So here’s a bit of history made at President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un: for what is almost certainly the first time, the North Korean leader actually answered an impromptu question from an American reporter.

Then just a little bit later, as if to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again. Looking confident and speaking in his typically gravelly voice, Kim didn’t miss a beat when asked by a member of the White House press pool about his outlook on the summit, saying “It’s too early to say. I won’t make predictions. But I instinctively feel that a good outcome will be produced.”

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with North Korean affairs, couldn’t confirm whether it was the first time Kim answered a question from a foreign journalist. But reporters didn’t get opportunities to ask questions of Kim during his three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his four meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Kim ignored questions shouted at him during his first summit with Trump last June in Singapore. In an earlier brush with foreign media at the opening of a war museum in Pyongyang in 2013, questions were shouted at him but not answered.

The first journalist to get his response on Thursday was David Nakamura of the Washington Post. As a pool reporter, he was allowed close access to the leaders as the representative of the White House press corps.

“I asked Kim Jong Un if he felt confident he could get a deal with @realDonaldTrump,” Nakamura tweeted. “He replied: ‘It’s too early to say. I would not say I’m pessimistic.'” Soon after, as journalists were allowed to see the beginning of the final day of talks, Kim responded to several more questions from American reporters in the White House pool — including The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg. He said he thought it would be a good idea to open a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang and said through the interpreter that he wouldn’t be in Hanoi if he weren’t willing to discuss denuclearization.

The interpreters — Yun-hyang Lee, who also translated for Trump at his first meeting with Kim in Singapore, and Sin Hye Yong, for Kim — played a key role in the exchanges. Shouted or unapproved questions are usually simply not translated to begin with. But with Trump responding, it appeared natural for Kim to follow suit. The interpreters interpreted. And Kim jumped right in.

Kim’s confident performance in Hanoi began as soon as he got off the train. Despite the tight security that is the rule at summits, foreign media were allowed to get right up beside him as he got off his armored train at the Chinese border to switch to a limousine for the drive the rest of the way to Hanoi.

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