Worsening tension between Iran and the West has been given a new twist by the revelation that the Royal Navy and allied forces have intercepted smuggled narcotics worth more than £800m coming out of Iranian ports. Much of the money, it is claimed, helps to fund the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Although raids on drugs-carrying dhows have been going on for several months near the sensitive Straits of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Gulf, they have only now been made public. According to military sources, the dhows carrying the narcotics are loaded in a number of small Iranian ports, but Tehran strenuously denies being involved in the illicit trade. It says any Western allegation of a link to trafficking is propaganda, partly aimed at justifying its large-scale naval presence in the area.
Suspect soldiers: Did crimes in U.S. foretell violence in Iraq? (Russell Carollo - Sacramento Bee)
A yearlong examination of military and civilian records by The Sacramento Bee involving hundreds of troops who entered the services since the Iraq war began identified 120 cases of people whose backgrounds should have raised the suspicions of military recruiters, including felony convitions and serious drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
Of those, 70 later were involved in controversial or criminal incidents in Iraq.
From 2003 to 2007, the percentage of Army recruits receiving so-called "moral conduct" waivers more than doubled, from 4.6 percent to 11.2 percent. Others, The Bee found, were able to enlist because they had no official criminal record of arrests or convictions, their records were overlooked or prosecutors suspended charges in lieu of military service — akin to a now-defunct Vietnam-era practice in which judges gave defendants a choice between prison and the military.
The Royal Military Police have launched an investigation into an allegation that British soldiers sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Iraqi boy.
Stephen Payne, a Bush pioneer and a political appointee to the Homeland Security Advisory Council, was caught on tape offering access to key members of the Bush administration inner circle in exchange for “six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.”
Frank Rich: The Real-Life '24' of Summer 2008
TPM: White House Releases EPA Report - And Denies Findings Immediately