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'Drones playbook' shows key role played by White House staff in deadly strikes

Dones playlistThe White House staff for national security, exempt from review by Congress, plays a substantial role in the process for killing suspected terrorists, according to a newly released document on drone strikes.

The 2013 document, known informally as the “playbook” for Barack Obama’s signature counterterrorism operations, was released on Saturday by the justice department as the result of court requests by the American Civil Liberties Union. The playbook provides the closest look to date at the bureaucratic machinery of global killing that Obama will pass on to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.


UNHCR: 3,000 fleeing Iraqis seized by ISIL

Fleeing IraqisFighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have reportedly captured up to 3,000 fleeing villagers in northern Iraq, according to the UN refugee agency, or UNHCR.

In its daily report on events in Iraq, UNHCR said on Friday that 12 of the captives were thought to had been executed by ISIL, also known as ISIS.


Five dead as Russian helicopter shot down in Syria

Russian helicopter downed in SyriaFive Russian military personnel died after their helicopter was shot down over Idlib province, Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.

"On August 1 a Russian transport helicopter Mi-8 was shot down with fire from the ground on the way to the Hmeymim air base, after delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. There were three crewmembers and two officers" aboard, the ministry statement said.


Scathing report in Britain slams Tony Blair over Iraq War

Blair must face war crimes trialThe Iraq war was mounted on flawed intelligence, was executed with “wholly inadequate” planning, and ended “a long way from success,” according to a damning report released Wednesday by the head of Britain’s Iraq War inquiry.

Retired civil servant John Chilcot, who oversaw the seven-year inquiry, said “the U.K. chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”


What Donald Rumsfeld Knew We Didn’t Know About Iraq

RumsfeldOn September 9, 2002, as the George W. Bush administration was launching its campaign to invade Iraq, a classified report landed on the desk of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It came from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and it carried an ominous note.

“Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD,” Rumsfeld wrote to Air Force General Richard Myers. “It is big.”

The report was an inventory of what U.S. intelligence knew—or more importantly didn’t know—about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Its assessment was blunt: “We’ve struggled to estimate the unknowns. ... We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program.”


U.S. soldier killed, two wounded in Afghanistan

Afghanistan battle kills one US soldierOne U.S. soldier was killed during a joint U.S.-Afghan Special Operations mission in Afghanistan, two U.S. defense officials told CNN on Tuesday.

Defense officials said a medical helicopter was hit by mortar fire while on the ground but was able to take off. The incident occurred in Marjah in Helmand Province.


U.S., Russia dominate arms transfers to developing countries

Arms sales dominated by US, RussiaThe United States and Russia dominated government-to-government arms transfer agreements with developing countries from 2011 to 2014.

According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, arms transfer agreements with developing nations constituted 75.5 percent of all such agreements globally from 2011 to 2014, and 86.0 percent of agreements in 2014.


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