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The Navy Won’t Pay Damages To People Who Drank Camp Lejeune’s Toxic Water, But It Is Throwing Money At Its Broke Aircraft Carrier
The Navy can afford an aircraft carrier that doesn't work, but it can't put any money aside for people who may be suffering after drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
To be fair, the Navy Department faced a total of $963 billion in claims from former service members, family members, and employees who have filed more than 4,400 lawsuits claiming they were harmed after drinking water at Lejeune that contained dangerous chemicals, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Wednesday.
It is estimated that people at Lejeune could have been exposed to the toxins between 1953 and 1987, Spencer said at a Pentagon news briefing. But in December 2016 a federal judge ruled the Navy Department was not liable for damages, in part because the industrial chemicals found in the drinking water were not regulated until 1989, and the Feres Doctrine prevents service members and their families from suing the U.S. government.
"The court decision has made it clear there is no legal basis nor ability for the Department of the Navy to pay these claims," Spencer said. "Based on these decisions and my assessment of the facts as well as advice and recommendations from both the Department of Justice and the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, I have approved denial of the remaining claims."
Spencer stressed that he would prefer to give the claimants some money, but he does not have the legal ability to do so. He added that the decision does not affect any disability compensation or other benefits from the Department of Veterans affairs that the claimants are currently receiving.
"This was a difficult decision, to be frank with you," Spencer said. "It would have been easier not to make the decision and have this thing just tick on."
When Task & Purpose asked Spencer why the Navy has no money for the claimants, yet it can spend $13 billion on the Gerald Ford aircraft carrier — which recently got one of its 10 elevators to actually work — he was less than pleased.
"You understand the appropriations process in the government?" Spencer responded. "You can't spend money unless it's appropriated. I do not have the capability to put these funds to this."
Then Task & Purpose noted that the Navy Department could ask Congress for money to compensate the claimants in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
"I could ask for it but the process exists for sovereign immunity for a reason," Spence said. "We have a situation here where we have exhausted our avenue of satisfaction for the claims. We are providing them healthcare. We are providing them disability. We're providing them with everything we can."
"And the Gerald Ford actually does work," he continued. "If you'd like to have a personal interview, I'd like to take you down there at some point and show you how it works."
Such a visit would provide an opportunity to look at the carrier's elevators, Task & Purpose replied.
"Yup, that's where I was last week," Spencer said.
With that, the press conference ended.
SEE ALSO: Toxic Chemicals Poisoned The Drinking Water At Military Bases. Now Congress Is Doing Something About It
WATCH NEXT: Navy Secretary Inspects USS Gerald R. Ford Weapons Elevator
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.