Entries in Pentagon (60)


Relieved of Command: Navy Removes Capt. Owen Honors from Enterprise

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy is set to permanently remove Capt. Owen Honors as commander of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise Tuesday, according to Pentagon sources. Pentagon leaders lost confidence in his ability to lead after raunchy videos he produced as an Enterprise officer in 2007 were leaked to a Virginia newspaper. A replacement commander is expected be named. The ship will still sail in two weeks for a warzone.

Honors is not expected to be kicked out of the Navy, but losing command of the carrier will surely end his career advancement.

Before the series of raunchy videos he produced years ago leaked to a Virginia newspaper over the weekend, Navy Capt. Owen Honors was known within the ranks as a popular officer and a decorated Top Gun aviator.

The videos, produced in 2006-2007 when Honors was the No. 2 officer aboard the Enterprise, show him introducing and starring in often lewd skits about life onboard the mammoth ship. They were broadcast on closed-circuit television ship-wide almost weekly in an attempt to raise morale during long and stressful deployments at sea. The videos appear to have been tolerated by the ship's commanding officer at the time.

In a video obtained by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Honors is seen griping about individuals who complained about the offensive content in the skits. The paper also reported that official complaints to leaders at the time were brushed aside. A new admiral who took over command of the Enterprise Strike Group in February 2007 had their production halted. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


Pentagon Says Mystery Missile Was a Plane

File Photo: This aerobatic stunt plane at an air show in Nevada is similar to the type of plane that might leave a contrail. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon believes Tuesday's missile mystery was caused by a plane and, as far as they’re concerned, the case is closed and they’re not interested in tracking down the aircraft responsible.  Their main concern was determining if the contrail was a U.S. missile or perhaps that of a foreign power. They’re not interested in anything beyond that.
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said Wednesday, “With all the information that we have gathered over the last day and a half about this condensation trail (contrail) off the coast of S. California on Monday night, both within the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies, we have no evidence to suggest that this was anything other than a contrail caused by an aircraft. ”
Lapan said the determination was based on a combination of factors such as  “looking at that video and having people determine what the likely cause was...this is how these conditions cause contrails to appear this way, and making sure it wasn’t one of our missiles.” The conditions he’s talking about are atmospheric conditions that would create an optical illusion that would make a far off plane seem closer and the contrails to resemble a missile launch.
As to why it took so long for the Pentagon to determine that a plane was the likely cause, Lapan said “it’s a matter of running down those different leads and talking to those different agencies.”
Lapan said the Pentagon is not interested in tracking down the plane responsible for a story that drew worldwide attention.  The U.S. military will not continue to gather specifics such as how far the plane was flying or where it may have been traveling to.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Dismisses Reports of 34 Warships for Obama Trip Security

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon did not mince words in dismissing as “absolutely absurd” and “comical” media reports from Indian news outlets that the U.S. Navy was sending 34 warships off the coast of Mumbai as part of the security preparations for President Obama’s upcoming trip to India. 

The reports appeared in Indian media outlets, such as the Press Trust of India and the television network NDTV. The Press Trust of India is that country’s largest news agency.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters he was making an exception to the practice of not discussing Presidential security details in order to dismiss the reports.

“I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy -- some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier -- in support of the president's trip to Asia,” said Morrell at Thursday's Pentagon briefing. “That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done."

He acknowledged that a presidential trip requiring security needs “should not come as a surprise to anyone” and that the Defense Department “does play a role in support of presidential missions.” He said it was customary to not discuss such security requests, but “I made an exception in batting down this absurd notion of there being 34 ships, or more than 10 percent of the Navy, deployed in support of this trip. That is most certainly not the case.”

The Indian media reports also say security for the presidential trip will cost $200 million a day.  Morrell “there's been a lot of creative writing that's been done on this trip over the last few days. I've seen other reports with some astronomical figures in terms of what it costs to take these trips. I don't know the cost. We don't speak to the cost.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was blunt in his characterization of the cost reports, saying “this trip doesn't cost $200 million a day.”  Gibbs would only say the costs were comparable to the costs incurred by Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton to the region.

A Navy spokesman confirmed that given the size of the Navy fleet, 34 warships tasked to security for the president would constitute 11.8 percent of the fleet.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Tests Finds All Three Military Shootings in DC Area Are Linked

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(QUANTICO, Va.) -- Ballistics testing has linked the shooting at an empty Marine recruiting station to two other shooting incidents at military-related facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

Laboratory tests conducted by the FBI found that the overnight shooting at a vacant Marine Corps recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia on Oct. 26 involved the same weapon used at last week's shootings at the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

The shooting at the Marine museum took place overnight on Oct. 17, and two days later, on Oct. 19, the Pentagon was fired upon around 5:00 a.m.

The FBI and law enforcement officials say it is unclear whether these incidents are more than vandalism by gun.  In each case, the shooter fired in the early morning hours, which is generally when fewer people are around.  The shots in all three shootings were fired into vacant parts of the buildings, resulting in no injuries.

Law enforcement agencies are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for anyone with information leading to an arrest.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Ballistics Link Pentagon, Marine Museum Shootings; FBI to Investigate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Someone is literally taking potshots at military locations, and now the FBI has announced it will investigate.

Ballistics testing from recent early-morning shootings at the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps show a single weapon was used in both incidents.  There was another overnight shooting on Oct. 25 or 26 at the Marine Corps Recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia.  Ballistics testing is now underway to see if those shots also came from the same weapon.

No one was injured in the pre-dawn shootings, and the shooter seems to be targeting buildings, not people.  Officials say they are taking the incidents seriously, but point out that no one is sure if the incidents are anything more than vandalism by gun.

At the Pentagon, six shots were fired in the early morning hours of Oct. 19.  Two exterior windows were hit, and four bullets hit the facade.  Officers reported audible shots fired in the vicinity of the Pentagon's south parking lot, which faces a highway, Interstate 395.

An internal sweep of the building was conducted, and that's when two rounds were found to have struck the building on the side that faces I-395.  That led Pentagon security to request the closure of the highway so that they could look for rounds or shell casings that may have been left behind along the side of the road.  Ballistic evidence found at the scene matched evidence found at the Marine Corps Museum.

The FBI said no further information, including a potential weapon used or the caliber of the ammunition, will be released at this time to preserve the integrity of investigative efforts.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Secretaries of Armed Forces Now in Charge of DADT Discharges

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force will be the only officials allowed to discharge homosexuals who reveal their sexual orientation, a violation of the 17-year-old Clinton-era law, the Pentagon has announced.

This new development, which strips uniformed officers of the authority to remove homosexuals from the armed forces, is intended to clarify a muddled situation caused by a federal judge who ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could no longer be enforced, and the Justice Department’s success at getting the judge’s stay lifted through a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regarding the change, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for personnel said the appeals ruling “highlights the legal uncertainty period in which we now find ourselves with respects to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ and the need to further ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of the law.”

While the military insists that this new protocol isn’t intended to slow down discharges, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, argued that there should be far fewer gay and lesbian soldiers kicked out of the armed forces, since the secretaries would be more apt to apply the legal standard to what constitutes violating the policy than uniformed officers.

President Obama, who wants to see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed by Congress, supported the Department of Justice's action to temporarily reinstate the policy, preferring that lawmakers, and not the courts, finally end it following an extensive Pentagon review due in December.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Terror Suspect Invited to Lunch at Pentagon After 9/11

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A terror suspect, now believed to be hiding in Yemen, had lunch at the Pentagon just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, ABC News confirms.

Just weeks after Sept. 11, American-born radical cleric Anwar Aulaqi was invited to a private lunch at the Pentagon as part of an effort to reach out to the Muslim community.  When asked by ABC News if Aulaqi had actually attended the lunch, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said, "We believe that to be true."

"We believe it was hosted by a small group within (but not including) the Department of Defense General Counsel's staff," a Pentagon spokesman tells ABC News.

Days before, Aulaqi had been interviewed by the FBI about the hijackers. The 9/11 commission report later found:

"Another potentially significant San Diego contact for [9/11 hijackers] Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat mosque.  Born in New Mexico and thus a U.S. citizen, Aulaqi grew up in Yemen and studied in the United States on a Yemeni government scholarship.  We do not know how or when Hazmi and Mihdhar first met Aulaqi.  The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego.  Hazmi and Mihdhar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him."

Aside from 9/11, Aulaqi has also been linked to the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and the Fort Hood shootings.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Shots Fired at the Pentagon; Investigation Underway

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several rounds were fired at the Pentagon Tuesday morning, and at least two of them struck the building.

No one was hurt as the rounds struck a portion of the Pentagon that is currently unoccupied due to construction. One of the rounds remains embedded in the bulletproof glass that lines the building’s windows.

Reports of possible gunfire began at 4:55 a.m. when a Pentagon police officer reported what he thought were five to seven gunshots in the building’s South Parking Lot. The lot and entrances to the building were closed, but reopened nearly a half hour later when nothing was found.

An internal sweep of the building turned up two rounds that were found to have struck the building.

Pentagon security closed an adjacent expressway to look for rounds or shell casings that may have been left behind.  A visible police presence remains along this highway and officials are still evaluating if they need to increase the building's security. 

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Pentagon Force Protection Agency Director Steven Calvery said that for now his agency considers the shooting a "random event," but "if our investigation and others ascertain that it's a part of a larger incident then we would have to evaluate again.  Right now we can only process what we have, and what we have is an isolated incident so far."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Cautions Gay Service Members Not to Tell

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new Pentagon memo cautions gay service members that even though the Defense Department is complying with a federal judge's injunction of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, they still could get into trouble if they come out of the closet while enforcement of the policy is on hold.

The warning is contained in a memo from Clifford Stanley, the defense under secretary for personnel and readiness, to the four military services.  The letter advises enlistees that because of the injunction issued Tuesday, the military is not implementing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Though "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is on hold, Stanley says the Pentagon will continue with its policy to not ask "service members or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline."

However, it appears that if a service member were to "tell" that they were gay, they could face repercussions if the injunction is reversed.

In the memo, Stanley admits to uncertainty about the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and policy but cautions gay service members, "We note for service members that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for them or others should the court's decision be reversed."

On Thursday, the Justice Department filed a request in federal court in Los Angeles for Judge Virginia Phillips to stay her injunction order that was released on Tuesday.

Stanley's memo says that while the court considers the request, "the Department of Defense will abide by the terms of the injunction."

However, Stanley seems optimistic that compliance may not last long as "it is possible that a stay of the injunction could be issued very soon, perhaps in a matter of days."

Stanley's warning echoes advice from gay advocacy groups in the wake of Judge Phillips' ruling that it might not be a good idea to come out as being gay as the legal process over the injunction follows its course.

On Tuesday, Servicemembers United issued a recommendation to gay and lesbian troops that they should not come out in response to the injunction.

In a statement, Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United warned, "Those who are on active duty should continue to operate as if 'don't ask, don't tell' were still in effect for now.

Servicemembers United's staff and leadership have all served under this heinous law too and we know what it's like, we know how frustrating it is.  However the safest option for now for those who want to protect their careers is not to come out yet."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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