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Entries in Navy (31)

Tuesday
May102011

Navy OKs Bases, Chaplains for Same-Sex Weddings

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy will allow same-sex couples to wed in ceremonies on its bases and officiated by Navy chaplains after the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is officially repealed, according to new training guidelines published last month by the Navy's chief of chaplains.

The changes, outlined in an April 13 memo from Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, come as part of the military's ongoing effort to revise its policies and train troops before lifting the ban on openly gay military service members.

In states where same-sex marriage is legal, gay service members will be allowed exchange vows in base chapels and other places used to celebrate marriage, according to the memo.

"Legal counsel has concluded that, generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation neutral," Tidd wrote.

A Navy chaplain will also be able to officiate the marriage ceremony, if it's consistent with his or her religious beliefs and complies with state and local laws in which it is performed, he said.

Training guidelines for Army and Air Force chaplains do not mention issues surrounding same-sex marriage ceremonies, although officials said that does not mean the ceremonies are necessarily prohibited.

The prospect of same-sex marriages at U.S. military installations has drawn fire from Republicans, who say the ceremonies would violate the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes.

Married same-sex couples remain barred from receiving federal marriage benefits involving taxes, social security, health care and housing.

President Obama signed a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" into law in December, but the policy is still in effect until 60 days after Obama and the Pentagon certify the armed forces are ready for the change.

Officials expect certification could happen as soon as this summer. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Al Qaeda Train Plot: Did Osama Bin Laden Personally Author?

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- American intelligence analysts are seeking an example of the handwriting of Osama bin Laden to see if it matches the handwritten document discovered in his compound that discusses a possible attack on American train lines, according to people briefed on the process.

The document was among the first pieces of evidence translated from Arabic by the CIA-FBI analysts obtained in the Navy SEAL raid because it did not require the decoding that the seized computer discs and hard drives will, according to those briefed.

"The read-out from the electronic media will take much longer," said one person.

Analysts said the proposed rail plot was dated in February, 2010 and indicates a "low-tech" sabotage operation using trees and cement blocks was being considered, suggesting al Qaeda concluded it would be difficult to obtain explosives.

A bulletin issued Thursday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News said al Qaeda considered conducting the train attack on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time." Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Osama Bin Laden: Officials to Release More Info on DNA Match, Intel

AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: A U.S. official tells ABC news that plans have changed, and that the information will not be released Friday, as was previously planned. The source notes that the information is still expected to be released, possibly over the weekend or early next week.

(WASHINGTON) -- The public will learn more Friday about the way officials identified the corpse of Osama bin Laden, as well as other information gleaned from the trove of data taken from the compound, ABC News has learned.

After Navy SEALs took photographs of bin Laden, CIA officials used facial recognition analysis to confirm that the man SEALs shot was in fact bin Laden. DNA samples matched those of bin Laden's relatives with 99.9 percent certainty.

President Obama decided against releasing photographs of bin Laden, fearing their graphic and gruesome nature could be inflammatory and put Americans at risk.

The government will also release more information from the computers seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound. On Thursday, ABC News reported on evidence of discussions about targeting U.S. rail lines and a possible attack marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Evidence Trove: US Hopes to Follow Money Trail

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S agents charged with disrupting and dismantling al Qaeda are hoping Sunday's harrowing raid of Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound yields valuable financial clues that could help them expose the underpinnings of the entire organization, including the identities of the major donors who have bankrolled the terror network.

American authorities are ready to follow the money, experts say, hoping detailed ledgers and financial records were scooped up during the raid in which bin Laden was killed. They say any wealthy financiers whose donations helped support the bin Laden terror network now have reason to be nervous.

"Al Qaeda has traditionally been funded by deep-pocket donors," said Stuart Levy, who served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "If people have been giving money, and they don't know yet whether their name is being identified in this intelligence, or that their name might be on a list of potential donors, they might have real reason to worry."

Top counterterror officials said the Navy SEALs who conducted the raid on bin Laden's fortified lair did not leave empty handed. But they have not disclosed what exactly they carried away along with bin Laden's corpse.

John Brennan, the president's chief counterterrorism advisor, told reporters the military team "took advantage of their time there to make sure that we were able to acquire whatever material we thought was appropriate."

He wouldn't describe in detail what they found, but said the quantity of the material was not as encouraging as its quality. A special CIA team has been designated to go through it.

"We feel as though this is a very important time to continue to prosecute this effort against al-Qaida, take advantage of the success of yesterday and to continue to work to break the back of al-Qaida," Brennan said.

Levy noted that in Iraq, detailed financial books were discovered in 2007 that provided a roadmap for al Qaeda in Iraq's financial structure. In 2010, a drone strike by U.S. forces took out the man believed to be al Qaeda's chief financial officer, Saeed al-Masri. Little is known about the bookkeeping that occurred after that.

"Others replaced him, but we don't know that they exerted the same control," Levy said.

Whether bin Laden took over that work himself, or kept those records with him remains unclear. But if he did, Levy said, those records could do lasting damage to the entire al Qaeda network.

Investigators are relishing the chance to put their hands on actual records that will enable them to dissect bin Laden's operations, said John Nagl, a counter-terrorism expert who serves as president of the Center for New American Studies. His ability to operate in the world without leaving a trace of himself is what helped him evade capture for more than a decade.

"He did a very good job in hiding himself from the outside world," Nagl said. "He cut himself off from all electronic emissions."

But for his use of couriers whom the CIA was eventually able to track, he may never have been found, Nagl said. "The ability to track his curriers, to find someone he trusted, then to follow that person all the way back to the rats nest was absolutely essential in this," he said.

Regardless of what records have been uncovered in the raid, bin Laden's death will in some respects cripple al Qaeda's ability to raise money – and not just because bin Laden served as an inspirational leader to his followers, Levy said. The network's infamous leader served as a stabile presence for donors who wanted to support the al Qaeda mission. Now, those soliciting donations will have no way to prove to potential donors that they really represent the terror movement.

"That could really create chaos for their fundraising," Levy said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Navy Drops Discharge of Sailor Found Asleep with Another Man

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- The Navy has dropped discharge proceedings against a young petty officer accused of "unprofessional conduct" after he was found asleep in bed with another male sailor earlier this year.

Stephen Jones, 21, a student at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C., had said his attempted ouster was motivated by homophobia, not a legitimate crime.

"This was an attempt to utilize supposed misconduct to get around 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' provisions," said Jones' civilian attorney Gary Meyers. "He's never said that he's gay, and no one asked him. It's irrelevant. He didn't do anything wrong."

The reprieve for Jones came Friday from the "upper echelons" of the Navy, Meyers said.

In an interview last month, Jones said he and friend Brian McGee inadvertently dozed off while watching the Vampire Diaries on a computer in his quarters Feb. 6.

"I asked several times about what was unprofessional about what I did, and every time they said it's just unprofessional. Period," said Jones.

Jones was wearing pajama pants and a white t-shirt, laying on top of the covers; McGee was in boxer shorts under the blanket on Jones' twin bed, according to both men's accounts.

When Jones' roommate, Tyler Berube, walked in shortly after midnight, the sleepy sailors woke up, got dressed and went back to their rooms.

Several days later, however, Jones and McGee were cited with dereliction of duty for "willfully failing to exhibit professional conduct in his room," according to the Navy report specifying the charges.

McGee accepted the charge and received docked pay. But when Jones refused to accept a penalty, instead hoping for a court martial to prove his innocence, he was ordered separated from the Navy for good.

While there was no evidence of homosexual conduct presented in the statements given by the three men to military investigators, Jones and his civilian attorney Gary Meyers believe homophobic suspicions were motivation for the charge.

Gay and lesbian advocates also warned the case illustrates a loophole for continued discrimination against homosexual service members complication despite the impending repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

A copy of the Navy's investigative report confirms that Berube discovered the two men asleep in bed, well before the 2 a.m. curfew Feb. 6, but does not detail how Jones or McGee may have exhibited unprofessional behavior.

"Guys are always playing video games, watching movies, in other people's quarters," Jones said. "Brian and I hung out on a regular basis. Curfew was 2 a.m. We woke up between 12 and 12:30, and were back in our rooms before 1. I have never been in trouble ever in all of my life."

A spokesman for the Naval Nuclear Training Command did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment but told the Washington Post, which first reported on the case, that "the determination was that two sailors sharing the same rack was unprofessional."

Attorney Meyers said, "If this is a problem, every kid who was ever in a fraternity or sorority or in a dorm room, wearing boxers and sitting on the bed, is going to have to look at their conduct again."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

Ten Sailors Injured After Fire Aboard US Navy Ship

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released(SAN DIEGO) -- Ten sailors were injured Wednesday afternoon after a fighter jet aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier caught fire, according to the military.

The incident happened off the coast of California around 2:50 p.m. on the deck of the USS John C. Stennis.  The military said an F/A-18C Hornet was preparing to take off when its engine failed, causing it to go up in flames and injure ten sailors nearby.

The injured sailors were intially treated on the ship.  Four were flown out to Naval Medical Center San Diego where they were listed in stable condition.  The pilot of the jet was not harmed.

The ship suffered no significant damage.

An investigation is now underway to determine what caused the mishap.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Harvard University Welcomes Back Naval ROTC After Nearly 40 Years

(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Harvard University will welcome back the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program after a near 40-year absence from the campus.

The university made the announcement Thursday and will make the deal official Friday when Harvard President Drew Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus sign an agreement to formally recognize the Naval ROTC on campus.

"Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals," Faust said in a statement. "It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service."

Under the agreement, a director of Naval ROTC will be appointed on campus and the university will resume funding as well as provide office space for the program.  Students who enroll will not train at Harvard but rather at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, consistent with a consortium that has been in place for decades.

Harvard expelled the ROTC program in 1969 in response to anger over the Vietnam War.  The university continued to uphold its expulsion over the years because of the "Don’t Ask, Don't Tell" military policy, which banned homosexuals from serving openly in the military.  The policy was repealed in December of last year, paving the way for Harvard to welcome back the Naval ROTC and begin talks to bring back other ROTC programs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan022011

Raunchy Videos Prompt Naval Investigation

Photo Courtesy - Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jared M. King/U.S. Navy(NORFOLK, Va.) -- The U.S. Navy's Fleet Forces Command on Saturday launched an investigation into raunchy videos it concedes were shown on board the USS Enterprise, involving an officer who now commands the ship.

The videos were first obtained by the Norfolk, Va., newspaper The Virginian-Pilot, with a report Saturday that indicated the ship's captain, Owen Honors, appeared in the videos when he was the Enterprise's second-ranking officer.  In the video, he uses a gay slur, makes gestures apparently meant to simulate masturbation and refers to "chicks in showers" at a point where the video depicts two women in a shower together.  The videos were apparently shown on board the ship via closed-circuit television.

In a statement, the Fleet Command emphasizes the videos were made in 2006 and 2007.  Commander Chris Sims said in the paper statement that the videos are clearly inappropriate, not acceptable when they were made, and not acceptable now.  Sims told ABC News the videos are authentic.  He would not say whether the Fleet Command knew of the videos or Honors' role in the production of them when he was promoted to Captain of the Enterprise in May.

The aircraft carrier deploys in two weeks.  As of Sunday, Commander Sims said Honors' position was unchanged and he remains captain of the ship.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

Navy Officer Stranded for Hours By Blizzard in Car with Wife and Infant

Photo Courtesy - WABC- TV(NEW YORK) -- Navy Officer Andrew Lauda, on leave from patroling for pirates off the Somali coast, sent out an SOS Monday when he and his young family became trapped on a blizzard-bound New York highway for more than eight hours.

Lauda had been home from his deployment with the Navy in Africa for just four days when he got stuck with his wife Kristen and their three-month-old son on their way to grandma's house.

"We left our house in Norfolk, Va., at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. We got stuck on the Long Island Expressway at about 1 a.m.," said Lauda. "So that's about 18 hours." "We just got stuck in the snow, we couldn't move," said Lauda, 21.

The Navy officer, who first met his son when he returned home on Dec. 3, rationed the family's meager food until they were down to crackers. He then called ABC News' affiliate WABC to tell the station they were trapped and needed help.

WABC aired Lauda's interview and it was heard by Carlos Calderon in nearby Queens, N.Y.

"I was watching the news and heard [Lauda's] story about being stranded and I told my wife, 'You know what, I'm going to try to help them," said Calderon, a Manhattan building manager.

Calderon said it was Lauda's mention of his young son that really motivated him to go help.

"That baby, it got me," he said.

By the time Calderon reached Lauda and his family, they had sought shelter in a nearby bus that was also stuck and still had enough gas to run the heat.

Lauda said he used his Navy training to help his family make it through the experience, which he admitted was "tough," especially with an infant.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec062010

Another Pentagon Security Leak; Sailor Allegedly Sold Secrets

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the same week the Pentagon said it was cracking down on access to government secrets, a low-level Navy clerk with top secret clearance to Afghan war intelligence sold classified documents and offered access to the Pentagon's most sensitive computer networks, according to a search warrant filed last week in federal court by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The sailor, petty officer Bryan Minkyu Martin, was taken into custody at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina but has not yet been charged, according to a spokesperson for the investigative service.

According to the affidavit, Martin sold 51 pages of "secret" and "top secret" documents to an FBI undercover agent posing as a representative of an unnamed foreign government. He was paid $2,000 for the documents, according to the affidavit.

The case came during the same week in which the Pentagon said it was cracking down on access to top-secret documents after some 250,000 classified Pentagon and State Department cables were posted online by the website WikiLeaks. An Army private, Bradley Manning, has been charged with providing the classified cables.

According to a military source familiar with Manning and Martin's security clearances, Martin's access to sensitive documents is significantly higher.

In the case at Ft. Bragg, the affidavit says petty officer Martin allegedly boasted of his access to classified network systems, including "Joint special Operations Command Information Automated Network (JIANT), a network classified SECRET, and the Special Operations System (SOIS), a network classified TOP SECRET."

Martin told the undercover agent "that his current assignment focuses on Afghanistan, and that he will work for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the future," the affidavit said. Martin added "that over his prospective 15 to 20 years career, he could be very valuable."

Martin, of Mexico, New York, was tracked wearing his U.S. Navy uniform as he left his Ft. Bragg office and headed for the meeting with the FBI undercover agent, the affidavit said.

He provided the agent with 51 pages of documents, "48 pages of which were marked SECRET and three pages were marked TOP SECRET," according to the affidavit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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