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Posts tagged "US Military"


Andrew Tahmooressi

After a lengthy hearing in Tijuana for a Marine reservist jailed since April 1 on weapons charges, a judge Wednesday declined to throw out the case as urged by U.S. politicians and instead scheduled another evidentiary hearing.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25,  who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, was arrested after crossing the border at San Ysidro with a rifle, shotgun, pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his pickup truck.

He had recently moved to San Diego to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veterans Affairs hospital in La Jolla.

Tahmooressi has consistently said he crossed the border by mistake, missing the turnoff to remain in the U.S. That story was challenged by Mexican officials when Tahmooressi’s explanation that he had never before visited Mexico proved to be untrue.

Wednesday’s hearing was the first time that Tahmooressi was able to  explain to a judge his version of events that led to his arrest. Mexican customs officials were also set to talk to the judge about what happened the night that Tahmooressi was arrested.

A hearing in May was canceled after Tahmooressi fired his attorney. The next hearing will be set for August. The judge ordered that Tahmooressi  remain in jail.

Tahmooressi’s new  attorney has cautioned him and his mother, Jill, that the process could take months as multiple hearings are held. Jill Tahmooressi, who lives in Florida, attended Wednesday’s hearing; the media was not allowed to attend.

Some 74 members of U.S. Congress have called on the Obama administration to work with Mexican authorities to gain Tahmooressi’s release.

On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) wrote to the Mexican judge, Victor Octavio Luna Escobedo, reminding him that Tahmooressi is “a Marine Corps veteran who risked his life for hisnation and his fellow Marines.”

His case, the two wrote, should be “favorably resolved on the basis that he made a simple mistake at the border.”

Mexican officials have stressed that while the Mexican judicial system is different from the U.S. system, it shares one key characteristic: Cases are not decided by political pressure.

They have also noted that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that there are numerous signs warning that bringing weapons into Mexico is a crime.


As the Army continues to investigate whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of deserting his unit, this afternoon they said there is no reason to believe that Bergdahl engaged in any misconduct during his five years in captivity. 

In fact, that’s all that the Army said:

We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct.”

Bergdahl electrified the national discourse last month after he was freed in a prisoner swap involving five members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. As charges against his character emerged, the narrative quickly shifted from Bergdahl as POW to Bergdahl as despicable deserter, unworthy bargaining chip, unwitting endangerer of America, and worse.

Here’s what else we’re learning about Bergdahl:

— For now, he’s on full Army pay, including $200,000 during his time in captivity, all of which he may ultimately have to return.

— Military investigators have not read Bergdahl his rights. 

— Bergdahl has not yet spoken to his parents.

He is currently in an outpatient facility in Texas. The Army investigation is expected to conclude in mid-August. If charged with desertion, Bergdahl could face court-martial, prison, and even the death penalty. 

Source: Adam Chandler for The Wire

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is calling for his viewers to boycott Mexico, though his four-year boycott of France during the Iraq War was a failure despite his false and conflicting claims to the contrary.
On the June 18 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly declared that Mexico “is not our friend” and that Americans “should stop going there” because the country is allegedly allowing human trafficking into the United States and because the Mexican president is “giving us the middle finger” over the case of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico for allegedly inadvertently crossing the border. O’Reilly urged viewers to boycott the country, telling them, “Let’s stop rewarding Mexico until they stop hurting us.”

O’Reilly previously threatened a boycott of Mexico in 2006 over its promise to sue the United States if evidence emerged that the National Guard had directly helped to detain Mexican citizens trying to illegally enter the United States. But O’Reilly’s longest-lasting boycott was against France for opposing the Iraq War; he began his boycott in March 2003 and lifted it in May 2007 after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president.

During the boycott period, O’Reilly made numerous claims about its purported success that proved to be either conflicting or completely wrong:

  • On the April 27, 2004, edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly claimed that the Paris Business Review had documented the success of O’Reilly’s boycott against France for not sufficiently supporting the United States in its fight against terrorism and in Iraq. O’Reilly said, “They’ve lost billions of dollars in France according to the Paris Business Review.” A Media Matters search at the time found no evidence of the existence of a publication called the Paris Business Review.
  • On the July 14, 2004, edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly stated: “French exports to the USA have fallen by more than a billion dollars from 2001 to 2003.” But that decline was unrelated to O’Reilly’s purported boycott, which he called for in March 2003. The decline in those years actually occurred between 2001 and 2002. It was a decline of $2.2 billion; French exports in 2003 actually increased $979 million from the previous year. In fact, French exports to the U.S. increased every year during the duration of O’Reilly’s boycott.
  • O’Reilly also made numerous conflicting claims about the effects of his boycott on the French economy. For instance, on the October 24, 2005, broadcast of his radio show, O’Reilly declared that his boycott effort has “hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent, but to an annoying extent. To the extent that they sent the French ambassador to New York to try to talk me out of it.” Previously, O’Reilly had variously claimed that the boycott effort had caused France to lose “billions of dollars,” “more than a billion dollars,” and “$138 million.” 

h/t: Terry Krepel at MMFA

Let’s NOT restart the Iraqi War. It was foolish in the 1st place to even invade that nation back in 2003, and will be much more foolish to invade it again now. 

Good call, President Obama. 

H/T: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA


Fox News’ The Five is usually my pick as worst cable TV news show on television, but “Outnumbered” is quickly rising among the ranks of the worstest and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a frequent guest on both shows proves my point when she said that if Sgt. Bergdahl had been released to his own troops, they would have put him in a body bag. These sickening displays of machismo wingnut fantasies are appalling.

Tom Kludt:

Echoing her fellow conservatives who oppose the prisoner swap that secured Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release, Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle said Friday that the POW was lucky he wasn’t found by his fellow soldiers before the exchange. Otherwise, Guilfoyle said, Bergdahl may have been brought home “in a body bag.”

And on Friday’s episode of “Outnumbered,” Guilfoyle said that things may not have ended so well for Bergdahl had he been discovered by U.S. soldiers instead of being brought back as part of an exchange.”He’s pretty lucky that he was brought home the way he was because if those special forces had found him and encountered him and they were looking for him, he would have come home either in a body bag or come home and gone straight to jail,” Guilfoyle said.

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Fox News provided ample coverage of two separate instances of U.S. Marines imprisoned in Mexico on gun charges, using the stories to criticize the Obama administration for what was deemed an inadequate response to each situation. But Fox paid no attention to a nearly identical case of a jailed U.S. soldier that occurred during the Bush administration.

On March 31, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested after he claimed he accidentally crossed into Mexico with personal firearms in his car, and has been held in a Mexican prison on weapons charges since that time.

Fox News heavily covered the story. A Nexis search of the network’s evening programming showed that since March 31, there have been at least 31 segments about Tahmooressi’s detainment, including phone interviews with Tahmooressi, his mother, and his friends. Fox host Greta Van Susteren demanded President Obama take action to free the Marine on the May 20 edition of Fox’s On the Record. Later on the show, Fox contributor Allen West bashed Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as “neutered pajama-boy leaders.”

More recently, Fox ramped up its criticism of the purported lack of action to more absurd levels, conducting polling asking whether the border with Mexico should be closed until Tahmooressi is returned, and one Fox host going so far as to suggest that an exchange of “five jailed illegal immigrants” with Mexico for his return, a reference to the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity after several years.

And in 2012, after U.S. Marine Jon Hammar was arrested in Mexico for carrying an antique shotgun across the border, Fox devoted at least 35 evening programming segments to Hammar, according to Nexis, often similarly complaining about the Obama administration response.

But when Spc. Richard Torres was arrested after crossing into Mexico in a similar alleged accident in mid-2008, Fox News’ evening shows voiced no such criticism over the failure of the Bush administration to act quickly to secure his release. In fact, a search of Nexis shows that they never covered the story at all, an omission that cannot be explained away by differences in the cases, as the circumstances of are remarkably similar.

From a May 30 CNN report on Tahmooressi’s arrest:

The Marine’s mom said he accidentally crossed into Mexico with three personal firearms — all bought legally in the U.S.

The 25-year-old had intended to drive to meet friends in San Ysidro, California, on March 31.

He was moving from Florida to California in the hope of getting a job and continuing treatment he had just begun for post traumatic stress related to his two combat tours, she said.

With all his possessions in his truck, Tahmooressi accidentally drove across the border, she said.

When he realized his mistake, his mother said, he dialed 911 and asked the operator to help him. No help came, Jill Tahmooressi said. Her son first encountered Mexican customs agents, she said, and he believed they understood that he’d made an innocent error. They seemed to be getting an escort car to help him, she said.

But officers with the Mexican military interfered, she told “New Day,” and her son was arrested.

And from a May 10, 2008, Houston Chronicle report on Torres’ arrest:

When he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, Spc. Richard Torres was carrying a small arsenal in his car: an AR-15 assault rifle, a .45-caliber handgun, 171 rounds of ammunition, several cartridges and three knives.

At a checkpoint, Torres didn’t try to hide the weapons. But he insisted he hadn’t meant to cross the border with the guns, which in Mexico are restricted for use only by the military. While searching for parking in El Paso, he said, he inadvertently drove onto a bridge leading to Mexico and could not turn around.

Now the Iraq veteran is in a Mexican jail while a judge decides whether to believe his account: that an experienced soldier accidentally ended up in a border town where drug cartels pay top dollar for exactly the kind of high-powered weapons he happened to have.

Torres ultimately spent a little more than a month in jail before he was released.

Methodology: On June 4, Media Matters searched Fox News Network transcriptsseparately for “Andrew Tahmooressi,” “Jon Hammar,” and “Richard Torres” for all available dates. Thirty-one results were found for “Andrew Tahmooressi,” 35 results were found for “Jon Hammar,” and zero results were found for “Richard Torres.”

h/t: Zachary Pleat at RWW

President Obama made the right decision to release Bowe Bergdahl home to the USA.
As of this moment, he is innocent until proven guilty, despite the fact that many conservatives and right-wing hacks are already saying that “Bergdahl is a ‘traitor’ or ‘deserter.’” 

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress World

h/t: Tom Kludt at TPM


The Washington Post: The only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed and is in U.S. custody, officials said on Saturday.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release was part of a negotiation that includes the release of five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

Follow more on Breaking News

h/t: DrillSgtk at Daily Kos


Hannity And Palin Bring Back Tired 'Death Panels' Myth To Attack Obama Over VA

They got their pound of flesh, but you can be sure it’s not going to put an end to attacks like this one. Here’s Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods (h/t Charlie Pierce) and screeching Hannity from his live show at the Republican Leadership Conference last night.

From Fox’s blog: Palin: Obama Shows ‘Lack of Understanding’ of Debt of Gratitude to Military:

“I think there’s a lack of understanding on our commander-in-chief’s part about what the mission of the military is, and why it is that we owe a debt of gratitude that’s manifested in benefits paid to those who’ve already earned them,” Palin said.

Palin ripped President Obama’s speech to West Point cadets this week, calling it “weak,” and went on to say that she doesn’t think Obama believes in American exceptionalism.

“It’s not that we are weak as a country, but we are so unreliable now, under Obama,” Palin said. “My concern is the effect that his doctrine, his policies, his attitude, has on those who are volunteering to serve this country — to those whom we owe a debt of gratitude.”

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Updated — 2:57 p.m. ET

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File

President Barack Obama speaking during a troop rally on May 25 after arriving at Bagram Air Field for an unannounced visit, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

President Obama announced Tuesday that he wants to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends this year, according to a senior administration official.

The White House issued the following statement Tuesday ahead of the president’s announcement:

This afternoon the President will make an announcement about the next steps in winding down the war in Afghanistan. He will announce that our combat mission will be over by the end of 2014. He will make clear that we are open to continued efforts in Afghanistan on two narrow missions after 2014: training Afghan Forces and supporting CT operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement. Both Afghan presidential candidates recently reiterated their intentions to sign the agreement quickly if elected. Assuming a BSA is signed, at the beginning of 2015, we will have 9,800 U.S. service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners. By the end of 2015, we would reduce that presence by roughly half, consolidating U.S. troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a normal Embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq.

The announcement comes just two days after Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The announcement comes just two days after Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

On a conference call Tuesday, senior administrative officials said the White House hopes to cut the 9,800 troops in Afghanistan “by roughly half” at the end of 2015 and further reduce to a “normal embassy presence” by 2016.

Officials reiterated that the combat mission will conclude at the end of 2014, and U.S. military efforts will focus on training and counterterrorism thereafter.

The White House praised the Afghan national security forces for “stepping up” at this time and “growing in not only size but capability.”

On the issue of what message the U.S. is sending to Al Qaeda and Taliban with this draw down, officials said “there will be violence, there will be challenges in Afghanistan” and they acknowledged that there continue to be Al Qaeda threats in the region. However, the White House believes now is the time for the Afghans to be responsible for securing their own country and they believe Afghan forces are “prepared to step forward.”

“This is a moment of some momentum in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official said on the conference call.

President Obama is expected to elaborate on U.S. counterterrorism in Afghanistan when he speaks from West Point on Wednesday.

Source; Mike Hayes for Buzzfeed