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Ex-US Special Ops Were Reportedly Hired To Assassinate Yemeni Political Figures
American mercenaries — some of whom were ex-special operators with Army Special Forces, SEAL Team 6, and the CIA — were hired by the United Arab Emirates in 2015 to take part in a "targeted assassination program in Yemen," according to a BuzzFeed News investigation published today.
- According to the report, the contractors were employed by the Spear Operations Group LLC, a company registered in Delaware, and founded by "Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh.”
- In interviews with BuzzFeed, Golan referred to the mission as “a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” adding that “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”
- In 2015, contractors with the group led by Golan, allegedly attempted to assassinate Anssaf Ali Mayo, the leader of an Islamist political party in Yemen. Until now it was unknown that the mission was carried out by U.S. mercenaries.
- Of the mercenaries with the group, one was a former member of the CIA, another was a Special Forces sergeant with the Maryland Army National Guard, and two were former Navy SEALs, one of whom was reportedly in the reserves and a veteran of SEAL Team 6, according to BuzzFeed. The remaining members were largely former French Foreign Legionnaires, BuzzFeed reports.
- Golan, the founder of the group, claimed to have been educated in France, to have served in the French Foreign Legion, and to have fought oversees — though his background and military service could not be verified by BuzzFeed, although sources familiar with him told the news site that he was “prone to exaggeration,” but “for crazy shit he’s the kind of guy you hire.”
- The CIA reportedly had no information about Spear Operations Group's missions in Yemen, and the Navy Special Warfare Command declined to comment for the BuzzFeed report. However the news organization spoke with a former official who previously worked in the UAE, and initially said there was no way Americans would be permitted to participate in such programs, only to call back and say: "There were guys that were basically doing what you said," adding that the mercenaries were “almost like a murder squad,” BuzzFeed reported.
- The legal ramifications of the alleged program are unclear. It's illegal under U.S. law to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country, and companies that provide military services to foreign nations are regulated by the State Department, which told BuzzFeed that it has "never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country."
- Yet the rules don't explicitly ban mercenaries — evidenced by the scores of Americans serving overseas alongside foreign militaries with little legal consequence. Spear Operations Group reportedly arranged for the UAE to bestow military rank to the Americans involved in operations in Yemen, which could provide legal protection.
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Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
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And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.