The Department of Veterans Affairs has revealed that more than 85,000 veterans last year were treated for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military, highlighting a crisis that President Barack Obama has called "shameful and disgraceful."
"We will not stop until we've seen this scourge, from what is the greatest military in the world, eliminated," Obama told Pentagon officials last week at the White House. "Not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less effective than it can be."
The Associated Press reported on Monday that more than 85,000 veterans had been affected in 2012, based on information released by VA. Of those cases, most of the victims were women, but nearly 40 percent were men. Sexual abuse has been defined by VA as "any sexual activity where you are involved against your will," which can come in various forms – some have reported to have been raped, while others said they were groped or subjected to verbal abuse or other forms of sexual harassment. more >>
Americans are the biggest losers from the slew of scandals now rocking the White House, but who are the biggest winners? Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, and Russia. If US foreign policy seemed spineless and muddled in confronting bad actors before the Benghazi-IRS-AP scandals surfaced, the US just became that much more irrelevant to its archrivals and antagonists on the world stage.
Unfortunately, the trio of scandals comes at an extremely dangerous time. The ever-unpredictable North Korea just fired three short-range guided missiles. Much more ominously, Russia is reverting to a Cold War mindset in ways far more serious than the recent arrest of alleged CIA operative Ryan Fogle. Russia is doubling-down on its strategy of backing its Syrian client, and the stakes couldn't be higher.
Russia recently sold advanced Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syrian President Bashar Assad. These missiles, outfitted with an advanced guidance system, effectively empower Syria to thwart any attempt by international forces to help Syrian rebels with a naval embargo or no fly zone. Upping the ante even more, Russia sent at least a dozen warships to its Tartus naval base in Syria, according to a Wall Street Journal report last Thursday. Russia has also declared its intention to complete its sale of the S-300 advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Syria. The S-300 is a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles at a range of about 124 miles and would therefore – if actually delivered to Assad – represent a game-changer that disturbs the current military balance of power in the Middle East. That is undoubtedly a red line for Israel, and Israel takes its red lines seriously, as it has shown with airstrikes on Syrian targets to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. more >>
Obama has gotten a relatively free pass as president, no doubt due to the intrigue of being the first black president. Congressional investigations into his administration go nowhere. The liberal media minimizes any wrongdoing by the administration and finds a way to spin it against Republicans instead. But something unusual has started happening. Influential figures on the left are speaking up loudly and attacking Obama over his policies regarding the U.S. military and defense. Obama is accused of being worse than former President George W. Bush due to the way he is continuing to detain Guantanamo inmates.
Obama originally said when he ran for office that he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison, and after being elected in 2009, publicly instructed the military to shut it down within one year. It is now over four years later, into his second term, and the prison is still open. Most of the prisoners have been there for over 11 years without a trial. Nine have died since it opened in 2002. The scrutiny has intensified in recent months as a majority of the 166 inmates, down from a high of 684 in 2003, have gone on hunger strikes, and at least 21 of the men are being force-fed twice daily. The administration has approved 86 detainees for release, but curiously none have been released so far this year.
Obama recently closed the office of the Special Envoy to the Closure of Guantánamo, evidence that it is becoming even less likely that it will be shut down. Polls reveal that a whopping 70 percent of Americans approve of Obama keeping the Guantanamo Bay prison open, giving Obama less incentive to shut it down. Many of the detainees are from Yemen, and cannot be released there, because the administration imposed a ban on transfers to Yemen in 2009 after the Underwear Bomber attack. more >>
The dust has settled. The lockdown has concluded. Further arrests have been made. Details keep trickling in to give us a more complete picture. And my own travel schedule has settled down enough for me to have more time to reflect on the attack on the area that was my own adopted hometown from 2008 through 2011, while I studied at Harvard Divinity School.
It is one thing, as a broad principle, to acknowledge the existence of Evil "out there." The extreme examples are too readily available to dismiss, from Nazi genocides and Soviet gulags of history to more current atrocities such as the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But this evil struck close to home. The festive atmosphere of the Boston Marathon was suddenly ripped apart with explosions that killed three innocent people while permanently maiming or seriously wounding many others. By bombs planted on a sidewalk where I have walked. Apparently by brothers who at least occasionally attended a mosque by which I often passed. Who had attended a high school I walked by all the time. Who lived close to where I lived, and about a literal stone's throw away from where I used to meet with my accountability partners. more >>
It seems like only yesterday when President Obama stood in front of an electrified audience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention just days before the deadly September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, reminding supporters, "al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead."
Days later, on September 14, a somber-faced Obama and his sullen-faced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood in front of four flag draped coffins at Andrews Air Force Base, assuring the small group of grieving family members their loved ones did not die in vain. Their ill-informed message suggested these patriots weren't killed by terrorists; they died because of protests about a YouTube video.
Since then, the administration has done its best to dodge questions and distance itself from the events of September 11, and acquired a convenient case of amnesia along the way. Nine months-in and Americans still have no clue why initial talking points from top officials' claiming the attacks were most likely executed by al Qaeda-linked terrorists were reduced to "a YouTube video." Did they fear acknowledging such a claim so close to the 2012 presidential election? Or did they actually believe the video story? more >>
A joint statement from the Sothern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission North American Missions Board has been issued on religious freedom on the military.
Following the recent reports about a potential court martial for proselytizing, a virulent atheist military consultant, and "extremism" claims, many were wondering what problem was coming next. Were our chaplains about to be handed a copy of Good Housekeeping or Psychology Today in place of their own sacred book?
Two national religious leaders, Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board, have issued the following statement. This is an excerpt: more >>