Sunday, 22 April 2012

Three more US agents quit over sex scandal

A sex scandal by US Secret Service agents in Colombia has forced three more agents to resign, bringing the number of people who have lost their jobs to six.

The latest casualties of the incident “have chosen to resign,” spokesman for the Secret Service Paul Morrissey said on Friday.

The agents have been accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel in the Caribbean resort of Cartagena.

The incident happened on April 11 before US President Barack Obama’s arrival to participate in last weekend’s Summit of the Americas.

The US military announced earlier that it was investigating 11 service members linked to the scandal.

However, a twelfth member of the protection agency has now been implicated in the incident.

Morrissey said one member of the Secret Service group has been “cleared of serious misconduct but will face appropriate administrative action.”

The Secret Service said in a statement that it will continue “to conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation, utilizing all investigative techniques available to our agency."

The service members are required to remain at their home stations until the investigation is complete.

US Colombia prostitution scandal, politically embarrassing

The involvement of US Secret Service agents in a controversial prostitution scandal is to say the least “politically embarrassing” for the US administration, a former senior CIA analyst tells Press TV.

The comment comes as a number of US military personnel members and Secret Service agents accompanying President Barack Obama in his visit to Colombia for the Sixth Summit of the Americas are accused of involvement in “inappropriate conduct.”

The Colombian police authority said that -- while on duty -- the US personnel took prostitutes into their hotel rooms.

The police said the instances of misconduct had caused the Secret Service to send 11 of its agents back to the US.

To analyze the issue farther Press TV has talked to former senior CIA analyst David MacMichael from Washington. What follows is a rough transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Many thanks for joining us here on Press TV sir. Despite this scandal still growing the Obama administration continues to put weight behind the director of the Secret Service. Is that a wise move, considering many are now questioning if the practice is more widespread than meets the eye?

MacMichael: Well, I think so far the director of the Secret Service Mark Sulivan has been commanded by the administration as having the situation under control but of course and as you indicated one of those things which is a considerable political embarrassment to the administration simply because it raises questions about who is minding the store.

Also interesting in this affair is the fact that one of the secret Service agents who have been fired is a man named David Cheney who was formally on the Secret Service security detail in 2008 for Sarah Palin who was the Republican vice presidential candidate and who posted jokes about her on Facebook.

American Occupied Iraq seizes Turkish military aircraft for violating its airspace

Iraqi authorities have seized a Turkish military aircraft that violated the country's airspace. (File photo)

Iraqi authorities have seized a Turkish military aircraft that violated the country's airspace after it landed in the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi media reported.

There is no news on whether the aircraft was forced to land or made an emergency landing at Mosul airport on Friday, according to Iraq's Alsumaria news agency.

The aircraft was reportedly carrying an armored car that allegedly belongs to a high-ranking Iraqi official.

Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan of interfering in his country's internal affairs, saying Turkey is becoming a “hostile state” in the region.

The Iraqi premier made the remarks in response to Erdogan accusing Maliki of taking an “egocentric approach” in politics.

Maliki also said the statements made by the Turkish premier “confirms that Mr. Erdogan is still living the illusion of regional hegemony.”

The latest tensions come in spite of Turkey’s position as one of Iraq’s top trade partners, with bilateral trade between the two neighbors valued at 12 billion dollars in 2011.

US gives Israel 680 million dollars for Iron Dome

This file photo shows an Israeli missile is launched from the Iron Dome missile system.
The US plans to provide Israel with an extra USD 680 million to strengthen Tel Aviv's Iron Dome missile system, congressional staff members say.

Under a plan crafted by the House of Representatives' Republicans, Washington is set to spend the money on the missile system from the current fiscal year through 2015, Reuters reported.

The money seeks to strengthen Israel's short-range rocket shield and it would allow Israel to build four additional batteries for the Iron Dome. The fund was earlier requested by Tel Aviv.

The new figure would be in addition to the USD 205 million that the administration of Barack Obama and Congress have agreed on in the 2011 budget.

Obama's budget sets aside USD 3.1 billion for military assistance to Israel as part of Washington’s USD 30 billion commitment to Tel Aviv for a 10-year period.

Rep. Howard McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee, complained in a letter to Obama that his "record low" budget request has jeopardized Israel's security.

Last month, the Pentagon reiterated that Israel’s security is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

A report published by the Congressional Research Service revealed Washington has given more than USD 67 billion in military aid to Israel over the years.

Haqqani receives threats on social networking sites

Hussain Haqqani received death threats on social networking websites.

Former Pakistani ambassador to United States, Husain Haqqani, has said that some elements are threatening him on social networking websites.

According to details, Haqqani received threats on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites

Former envoy has also lodged a complaint and submitted proof in US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track the culprits.

Husain Haqqani had to resign after a Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz had claimed that he was asked by Husain Haqqani to deliver a memo to the former US military chief General Mike Mullen, seeking US support to avert a military takeover following the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

He has been denying writing and sending any secret memo to US Admiral and terms it a conspiracy against him.


Russia has expressed concern over the United States plans to maintain its military footprint in Afghanistan after the pullout of international troops by the end of 2014.
After a Thursday meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference that there would be no reason for the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan after the United Nations Security Council mandate ends in 2014.

“We … do not understand such [US] plans to maintain a presence …, we have questions and we would like to get answers,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

“So long as the Afghan side is unable to provide security in the country, any artificial deadlines for troops’ withdrawal do not seem quite correct. But when the UN Security Council mandate expires, there will be no reason for a foreign presence in Afghanistan and the region,” he added.

He also voiced concerns over drug trafficking and heroin cultivation in Afghanistan. Russia’s federal drug control watchdog has reported that the heroin production in Afghanistan rose 40-fold during the course of the last decade.

Afghan security forces, estimated to number around 330,000 , are expected to take over part of the fighting in the country, as the US pulls out 23,000 troops to reach 68,000 by the end of September.

Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan, despite the current presence of some 130,000 US-led forces in the country.

All foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave and hand over security operations to the Afghan Army by the end of 2014.

However, after that date, the US may keep a number of forces to train and help the Afghan army with their operations, reports say.
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