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Coast Guard officer who allegedly plotted terror attacks pleads guilty to weapon and drug charges
(Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested in February after prosecutors said he was plotting to attack Democratic politicians and TV personalities pleaded guilty on Thursday to weapons and drug charges, changing his earlier not-guilty plea.
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, 50, who has been in federal custody since his arrest, previously denied the four charges contained in an indictment handed up shortly after his arrest.
In U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Hasson pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing firearm silencers and the painkiller Tramadol, as well as possession of firearms by an addict of a controlled substance.
Hasson was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31, when he will face a maximum combined 31 years in prison, Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said.
"I look forward to the opportunity for the government to present additional evidence to the court at sentencing," Hur said in a statement.
After Hasson's arrest, authorities said they seized a cache of 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his Silver Spring, Maryland, home.
Prosecutors had said Hasson was a "domestic terrorist" and a self-described white supremacist with a list of potential shooting targets, including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and MSNBC television host Joe Scarborough.
"There is an intent to murder innocent civilians," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Sykes said at a Feb. 21 court hearing, citing a draft email Hasson allegedly wrote but did not send.
Hasson's attorneys said prosecutors had "mischaracterized and sensationalized" a case that was actually about a husband and father of two with a prescription opioid addition whose only crime was unlawfully possessing drugs and firearms.
"Mr. Hasson was not plotting a terrorist attack or any of the abhorrent acts that the prosecution has repeatedly speculated about but never actually charged," public defenders Liz Oyer and Cullen Macbeth said in a statement after the plea change.
"Mr. Hasson accepts that he will be fairly punished for the crimes he did commit," the attorneys said, adding that their client regrets the "pain and embarrassment" he caused his family and the Coast Guard.
Hasson, a former U.S. Marine, had been assigned to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington.
The Coast Guard said Thursday that Hasson was still on active duty pending its own administrative investigation, which will start after the conclusion of the criminal case, The Washington Post reported.
Investigation clears former Naval War College president, who offered free hugs and games of Twister, of misconduct
NEWPORT -- The Office of Naval Inspector General has cleared former Naval War College president Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley of most of the allegations of misconduct claimed to have occurred after he took command of the 136-year-old school in July 2016, The Providence Journal has learned.
Harley, in one of a series of interviews with the The Journal, called the findings "deeply gratifying." He said many of the most sensational allegations -- "offers of 'free hugs' and games of Twister in his office" -- reflected a misunderstanding of his sense of humor, which he describes as "quirky," but which he says was intended to ease tensions in what can be a stressful environment.
The allegations, reported last year by the Associated Press, prompted a national controversy that led to Harley leaving the college presidency after almost three years in office.
The U.S. government failed to effectively account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment allocated to Syrian partners as part of the multinational counter-ISIS fight, according to a new report from the Defense Department inspector general.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has long been seen as an apologist for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom she met during a secret trip to Damascus in January 2017.
Most recently, a video was posted on Twitter shows Gabbard evading a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.
Since Gabbard is the only actively serving member of the military who is running for president — she is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — Task & Purpose sought to clarify whether she believes Assad has used chlorine gas and chemical weapons to kill his own people.
The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.
What's cooler than a single missile? How about a missile with a high-powered machine gun attached?
That's exactly what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on, according to budget documents — and it wants $13 million to make it a reality.