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Chelsea Manning reveals threats of 'disappearing' at Guantánamo Bay

Chelsea ManningThe American soldier Chelsea Manning has accused US military guards of threatening her with exile to Guantánamo Bay without trial or acknowledgment of her gender transition after she was apprehended as the source of one of the largest leaks of state secrets in history.

Writing in the Guardian from prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where she is serving a 35-year sentence, Manning marked the fifth anniversary of her military custody on Wednesday with the most personal first-hand account she has yet given of the “physical and emotional rollercoaster” of a whistleblower behind bars.

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Air Force launches hush-hush mini-shuttle to space

X37B aircraftA mysterious space plane is on its way to orbit.

The Air Force launched its unmanned mini-shuttle from Cape Canaveral, Florida, late Wednesday morning. An Atlas V (five) rocket carried it up.

This is the fourth flight for the military research program, which is shrouded in secrecy.

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CIA's torture experts now use their skills in secret drones program

CIA droneThe controversy over the CIA’s secret drone program has gone from bad to worse this week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA’s torture program, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the president’s explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire program classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that many of those in charge of the CIA’s torture program – the same people whose names were explicitly redacted from the Senate’s torture report in order to avert accountability – “have ascended to the agency’s powerful senior ranks” and now run the CIA drone program under the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. Rather than being fired and prosecuted, they have been rewarded with promotions.

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Two Marines killed in helicopter training exercise

2 marines killedTwo U.S. Marines died when their helicopter crashed during a training mission at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Southern California.

The aircraft crashed about 4:30 Friday afternoon at the airbase, located about 130 miles east of Los Angeles. The names of the Marines will not be released until next of kin are notified.

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US Ambassador to Iraq: US forces assured immunity

Stuart JonesWashington has an agreement with Baghdad on privileges and immunities for the growing number of troops based in Iraq who are helping in the fight against the Islamic State group, the new U.S. ambassador said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Stuart Jones said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given assurances that U.S. troops will receive immunity from prosecution. Under Iraq's former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that issue was a major sticking point, ultimately leading to the decision to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops in late 2011.

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Pentagon shrugged off troops' chemical exposure in Iraq

chemical use ignored by Pentagon in IraqU.S. troops reported suspicions that they had been exposed to chemical warfare toxins in Iraq, yet the Pentagon failed to adequately treat them or track possible exposures, defense officials have revealed.

Contact with the toxins occurred beginning in 2003 when troops found degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s hidden in underground caches or in makeshift bombs. The information about the large number of potential exposures emerged following an internal review of Pentagon records ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after an investigation by the New York Times initially found that 17 service members were injured by sarin or a sulfur mustard agent.

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Suicide surpassed war as the military's leading cause of death

military deathsWar was the leading cause of death in the military nearly every year between 2004 and 2011 until suicides became the top means of dying for troops in 2012 and 2013, according to a bar chart published this week in a monthly Pentagon medical statistical analysis journal.

For those last two years, suicide outranked war, cancer, heart disease, homicide, transportation accidents and other causes as the leading killer, accounting for about three in 10 military deaths each of those two years.

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