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Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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State Department Awarded Blackwater More Than $1 Billion After Threat On Investigator's Life

BlackwaterThe State Department awarded more than a billion dollars in funding to the security firm Blackwater and its later incarnations even after one of the company's top officials allegedly threatened a government investigator's life, a review by The Huffington Post has shown.

The New York Times revealed last week that the State Department's chief investigator reported being threatened by a Blackwater official in Iraq in August 2007. The investigator said project manager Daniel Carroll told him "that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq."

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Former Blackwater guard testifies against friends

Blackwater trialFormer Blackwater security guard Matthew Murphy and now-indicted ex-colleague Paul Slough were friends, having survived the war in Iraq together, creating a bond that under different circumstances might have lasted a lifetime.

But from the witness stand in the Blackwater criminal trial this week, Murphy testified that he saw Slough fire at least two grenades into a car where a woman and her son died, two of 14 Iraqis killed on Sept. 16, 2007, in a downtown Baghdad square.

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U.S. Says It Won't Make More Anti-Personnel Land Mines

landminesSaying it wants to join an international treaty banning anti-personnel land mines, the U.S. announced today that it will no longer make "or otherwise acquire" them. The new policy was announced at a conference on the Ottawa Convention, a 1999 treaty that outlaws the mines.

The country's stronger stance on mines is part of a push "to end the use of all nondetectable mines and all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict," according to a White House news release issued this morning.

The new policy was announced to coincide with the conference that's taking place this week in Mozambique.

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Three US troops killed in Afghanistan bomb blast

3 US troops killed in AfghanistanThree US troops and a working dog were killed by a bomb blast on Friday in southern Afghanistan, a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

No information was immediately available about the incident. The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in Afghanistan said in a statement three service members died following an improvised explosive device attack.

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Blackwater on trial over killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007

Blackwater trialAfter years of delays, four former guards from the security firm Blackwater Worldwide are facing trial in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe.

Whether the shootings were self-defense or an unprovoked attack, the carnage of 16 September 2007 was seen by critics of the George W Bush administration as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.

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Friendly fire kills 5 American troops in Afghanistan

friendly fire deathsFive American troops were killed in an apparent friendly fire tragedy in southern Afghanistan, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

"Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement. "Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen."

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The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead

Drone deathsThe U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a U.K.-based non-profit, details on its website, five years ago the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of the Obama presidency. Although there were reports of suspected "militants" killed, at least 14 civilians also died that day.

After those initial mistakes, TBIJ notes, Obama rapidly ramped up the drone program in Pakistan and increased its use in Yemen and Somalia, two countries where al Qaeda affiliates expanded their presence during Obama's presidency.

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