5 U.S. troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan; airstrike called after ambush
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Five American special operations troops were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.
The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday "during a security operation in southern Afghanistan."
"Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen," Kirby said in a statement.
In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific.
Vegas gunman made no secret of extreme views, but authorities had few options to pursue him
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Jerad Miller was ready to share his anti-government views with just about anyone who would listen, views that telegraphed his desire to kill police officers and his willingness to die for what he hoped would be a revolution against the government.
He told neighbors, television reporters and the Internet. Once, he threatened to attack a Nevada court while on the phone with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
If local or federal authorities were monitoring his online rants and increasingly sharp threats, they aren’t saying -- not with police still investigating what triggered Miller and his wife to gun down two officers and a third man Sunday before taking their own lives.
Even if Miller had attracted the attention of law enforcement, authorities would have initially been confined to knocking on his door and starting a conversation to try to gauge whether he was a true threat. His opinions were free speech, protected by the First Amendment. And given limited resources and rules against creating government watch lists, it would be impossible to keep tabs on everyone who actively promotes beliefs that may -- or may not -- turn to violence.
"We can’t go around watch-listing folks because they voice anti-government opinions, because they say law enforcement should be killed," said detective Rob Finch, who advocates using social media to monitor extremists in his work with the Greensboro, North Carolina, police department. "There are thousands of people out there that voice these things on the Internet every day. YouTube is filled with them."
In major blow to Iraqi authority, insurgents overrun most of 2nd-largest city of Mosul
BAGHDAD (AP) -- In a stunning assault that exposed Iraq’s eroding central authority, al-Qaida-inspired militants overran much of Mosul on Tuesday, seizing government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands of residents fled the second-largest city.
The rampage by the black banner-waving insurgents was a heavy defeat for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as he tries to hold onto power, and highlighted the growing strength of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group has been advancing in both Iraq and neighboring Syria, capturing territory in a campaign to set up a militant enclave straddling the border.
There were no immediate estimates on how many people were killed in the assault, a stark reminder of the reversals in Iraq since U.S. forces left in late 2011.
Teen gunman who killed student, wounded teacher at Oregon school likely took own life
TROUTDALE, Ore. (AP) -- A teen gunman armed with a rifle shot and killed a student Tuesday and injured a teacher before he likely killed himself at a high school in a quiet Columbia River town in Oregon, authorities said.
After the shooting stopped, police spotted the suspect slumped on a toilet in a bathroom but couldn’t see what was happening with him.
Officers used a robot with a camera to investigate and discovered the suspect was dead and that he had likely killed himself, Troutdale, police spokesman Sgt. Carey Kaer said.
Authorities have tentatively identified the gunman and the slain student, who was found in a locker room at Reynolds High School, but the names were being withheld until their families were notified, police Chief Scott Anderson said.
The teacher’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, and he was treated at the scene.
CIA disciplines officers for harassment; says it has no tolerance for such behavior
WASHINGTON (AP) -- When Ilana Sara Greenstein was a CIA case officer working at headquarters a decade ago, she said, a married senior manager who was responsible for her promotions made sexual advances toward her.
She spurned him but didn’t dare report the incident, she said in an interview, for fear it would end her career. She went on to a stint in Iraq -- where a male officer routinely snapped the bra strap of one of her female colleagues, she said -- before she left the agency in 2008. Back then, she said, there was no mention of sexual or other harassment in the training she got to be a covert operative.
These days, the CIA says it has a zero tolerance policy toward workplace harassment. And an agency document obtained by The Associated Press said 15 CIA employees were disciplined for committing sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year. That included a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in "bullying, hostile behavior," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, said the document, an internal message to the agency’s workforce.
The examples cited in the message, sent several weeks ago in an email by the director of the agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, were meant to show how the CIA is enforcing its strict policy.
But the announcement also shed light on the spy agency’s struggles to move past its free-wheeling workplace culture, especially in the National Clandestine Service, the spying arm, which attracts men and women who are willing to lie, cheat and steal for their country.
Judge strikes down teacher tenure in Calif., says system protects bad educators
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge struck down tenure and other job protections for California’s public school teachers as unconstitutional Tuesday, saying such laws harm students -- especially poor and minority ones -- by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire.
In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in ruling that students have a fundamental right to equal education.
Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, he ruled that California’s laws on hiring and firing in schools have resulted in "a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms."
He agreed, too, that a disproportionate number of these teachers are in schools that have mostly minority and low-income students.
The judge stayed the ruling pending appeals.
deal sealed day before Taliban swap
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration only finalized the exchange of the last remaining U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo a day before the swap, a top Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday. He said American officials didn’t learn the pickup location for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl until an hour ahead of time.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2-ranked Democrat, presented the timeline as an explanation for why President Barack Obama didn’t inform Congress 30 days before the May 31 prisoner trade. Republicans and some Democrats have sharply criticized the president for failing to notify them and contend he broke the law. Obama says he acted legally.
"They knew a day ahead of time the transfer was going to take place," Durbin told reporters in the Capitol, where military officials briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors. "They knew an hour ahead of time where it was going to take place."
Durbin spoke as a House panel overwhelmingly backed a measure barring U.S. funds for the transfer of detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid the congressional outcry over the swap.
On a bipartisan 33-13 vote, the Appropriations Committee added the provision to a $570 billion defense spending bill. The measure bars 85 percent of the funds in the account for overseas conflicts until Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reassures Congress that congressional notification on Guantanamo transfers will be respected.
Air Force to launch fixes to nuclear missile program, including bonuses, modernization
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Air Force is launching an ambitious campaign to repair flaws in its nuclear missile corps, after recent training failures, security missteps, leadership lapses, morale problems and stunning breakdowns in discipline prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to demand action to restore public confidence in the nuclear force.
Air Force leaders are planning to offer bonus pay to missile force members, fill gaps in their ranks, offer a nuclear service medal and put more money into modernizing what in some respects has become a decrepit Minuteman 3 missile force that few airmen want to join and even fewer view as a career-enhancing mission.
The potential impact of these and other planned changes is unclear. They do not appear to address comprehensively what some see as the core issue: a flagging sense of purpose in a force that atrophied after the Cold War ended two decades ago as the military’s focus turned to countering terrorism and other threats.
Even so, some analysts are encouraged by these initial Air Force moves.
"I think this is a step in the right direction," said Dana Struckman, a retired Air Force officer who commanded a Minuteman 3 missile squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota in 2003-05. "I think it will make a difference."