6 August, 2019 06:39

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, August 6, 2019 which is Farmworker Appreciation Day, National Gossip Day, Corporate Baby Name Day and Hiroshima Day.
This Day in History:

  • On this day in 1945, the United States becomes the first and only nation to use atomic weaponry during wartime when it drops an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.
  • 1787: In Philadelphia, delegates to the Constitutional Convention begin debating the first complete draft of the proposed Constitution of the United States.
  • On this day in 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing African Americans the right to vote. The bill made it illegal to impose restrictions on federal, state and local elections that were designed to deny the vote to blacks.
  • 1862: The C.S.S. Arkansas, the most feared Confederate ironclad on the Mississippi River, is blown up by her crew after suffering mechanical problems during a battle with the U.S.S. Essex near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


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TAL: National commander: ‘Evil will not triumph’
The American Legion
Aug 05, 2019
American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad issued the following statement in response to the recent mass shootings:
“From Gilroy, California to El Paso, Texas to Dayton, Ohio – there are just no words to fully express the outrage that The American Legion feels toward the perpetrators of these horrific acts, which is only outweighed by the compassion and sorrow that we feel for the families impacted. There are no simple solutions that will totally stop such atrocities from occurring. But we must put politics aside and prioritize civility. We must open our minds and consider ideas that will make our communities safer.
"Veterans didn’t fight in wars abroad only to witness carnage at home. Support the first responders and donate blood. Express your concerns to authorities when you see troubling behavior that could develop into something worse. Above all, love thy neighbor. Evil will not triumph.”

Stripes: US intends to prevent Turkey invasion into Syria, Esper says

By LOLITA C. BALDOR | Associated Press | Published: August 6, 2019

TOKYO — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that the U.S. intends to prevent any unilateral invasion by Turkey into northern Syria, saying any such move by the Turks would be unacceptable.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened an imminent attack in the northeast to push back U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish Forces. American and Turkish military officials have been meeting in Ankara to try and negotiate a settlement to avoid the invasion, and Esper said Tuesday that he believes they have made progress on some of the key issues.

U.S. officials have made clear that an invasion is an extremely risky venture that could threaten the safety of U.S. forces working with the SDF and potentially impede the continued defeat of Islamic State militants in the region.

"What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions that would upset, again, these mutual interests that the United States, Turkey and the SDF share with regard to northern Syria," Esper told reporters traveling with him to Japan. He said the U.S. is trying to work out an arrangement that addresses Turkey’s concerns, adding, "I’m hopeful we’ll get there."

He did not provide details on where progress is being made.

The dispute further weakens U.S. relations with NATO ally Turkey, coming closely on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to remove Ankara from the American-led F-35 fighter aircraft program because it is buying a Russian air defense system that would aid Moscow’s intelligence.

The U.S. government’s concern is that the Russian S-400 system could be used to gather data on the capabilities of the F-35, and that the information could end up in Russian hands.

Esper said the U.S. will not abandon its SDF allies.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria working with the SDF, and an incursion by Turkey could put them in the middle of any firefight between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are the key element of the SDF. Turkey considers the YPG an existential threat and as terrorists with close links to a decades-long insurgency within its own border led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The SDF, however, has been America’s main partner on the ground against the Islamic State group, and the Kurds are currently detaining thousands of foreign fighters. U.S. officials worry that those fighters could get free during a Turkish invasion into the Kurdish-held territory.

Turkey and the U.S. have been negotiating for months over the establishment of a safe zone along the Syrian border that would extend east of the Euphrates to Iraq.

Turkey wants to establish a 25-mile-deep zone. But so far the two sides have failed to reach an agreement.

Esper said Turkey is a long-standing ally and the U.S. is taking this one day at a time. And he suggested that the SDF issue is not new and is markedly different than an ally buying a Russian-made air defense system that could threaten an American aircraft.

"We’ve all seen this before. They have long-standing concerns about the PKK," said Esper. "That’s why we want to work with them to address their legitimate security concerns going forward."

Navy Times: Monday ‘accelerated change of command ceremony’ relieves Navy JAG tied to SEAL cases
By:Carl Prine14 hours ago
Caught in a political firestorm for her leadership of the Regional Legal Service Office Southwest during a pair of SEAL war crimes cases that fell apart, the Navy relieved Capt. Meg Larrea on Monday.
But Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jereal E. Dorsey cautions not to read anything into that, calling Larrea’s relief an "accelerated change of command ceremony” 14 days before she was slated to relinquish her office to Capt. Jennie Goldsmith.
Deputy Judge Advocate General Rear Adm. Darse E. Crandall Jr. presided over what was described as a private ceremony, without an end of the tour award for her.
It’s unclear if she has orders to another command but Monday’s event wasn’t a retirement ceremony.
Larrea has been in the spotlight for her decision to bestow four Navy Achievement Medals on junior officers on July 10 for their roles in the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher for charges that included premeditated murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice.
Although the war crimes case against him collapsed and a military panel of his peers only found him guilty on a minor charge of appearing in photographs with a dead prisoner of war in Iraq in 2017, Larrea’s NAM citations lauded the prosecutors for “superior performance," “brilliant legal acumen” and other courtroom feats.
That irked President Donald J. Trump, who took to Twitter on July 31 to announce that he’d ordered Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to nix the NAMs.
“Not only did they lose the case, they had difficulty with respect to information that may have been obtained from opposing lawyers and for giving immunity in a totally incompetent fashion,” Trump tweeted.
The four officers weren’t found culpable of any wrongdoing, but their team was sanctioned by Navy judge Capt. Aaron Rugh for violating Gallagher’s constitutional rights.
Part of his punishment included booting Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, the lead prosecutor, for a warrantless surveillance program cooked up with Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents to track emails sent by defense attorneys and Navy Times.
And the spying wasn’t the only allegation of prosecutorial and police misconduct dogging the case.
They were accused of manipulating witness statements to NCIS agents; using immunity grants and a bogus “target letter” in a crude attempt to keep pro-Gallagher witnesses from testifying; illegally leaking documents to the media to taint the military jury pool; and then trying to cover it all up when they got caught.
Larrea was Czaplak’s boss during the prosecution.
In a series of stunning moves on Thursday and Saturday, CNO Richardson dismissed all charges against Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier — the officer in charge of Gallagher’s Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 — for allegedly helping him cover up the crimes; removed all Navy Region Southwest oversight of Gallagher’s post-trial sentencing; and ordered Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bob Burke to launch a comprehensive review of the conduct of JAG leaders in the wake of the war crimes cases.
As CNO’s push to probe the Navy’s legal institutions gathered steam, Gallagher’s civilian defense attorney, Timothy Parlatore, called on Pentagon leaders to fire Larrea, too.
On Monday, he said he was glad to hear she was gone, calling her RLSO “ruddlerless for more than a year." He urged Navy leaders to also relieve Czaplak of his duties at the RLSO.
But Navy spokesman Dorsey said that he’s “still assigned to RLSO performing duties assigned.”
Attempts by Navy Times to reach Capt. Larrea were unsuccessful on Monday.
Calls placed with her listed telephone numbers were not returned. Her RLSO staff referred Navy Times to the Office of the Judge Advocate General in Washington, who reached out to the Chief of Naval Information’s staff at the Pentagon.

Military.com: Trump Backs ‘Red Flag’ Laws That Could Impact Veteran Gun Ownership

5 Aug 2019
Military.com | By Richard Sisk
President Donald Trump said Monday that he supported the so-called "red flag" laws on gun sales and ownership that have drawn criticism for their potential impact on the 2nd Amendment rights of veterans.
In a 10-minute national address, Trump pledged to act "with urgent resolve" to curb gun violence and prevent mass shootings in response to the killings of at least 31 people over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. "We can and will stop this evil contagion," Trump said.
"That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders" to keep weapons out of the hands of those who may pose a risk to themselves or others, Trump said.
Such laws could be used to "identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement," Trump said. "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."
He said he had also directed the Justice Department to work with local authorities to develop "tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike."
In the absence of federal red flag laws, at least 16 states and the District of Columbia have enacted their own versions which enable family members or police to obtain court orders blocking access to firearms for those who may be a risk to themselves or others.
The National Rifle Association has generally been opposed to red flag laws. Their passage has also raised concerns in Congress about the potential impact on the 2nd Amendment rights of veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress or had a third-party fiduciary appointed to manage their benefits.
Last month Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Rep. Colin Petersen, D-Minnesota, a member of the committee, introduced a bill called the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act.
The bill would prevent veterans from losing their ability to buy or own a firearm when the Department of Veterans Affairs approves having a third-party help manage their benefits.
"Just because a veteran has someone manage their VA benefits, shouldn’t disqualify them from owning a firearm." Petersen said in a statement. "This bill will ensure that veterans rights are protected by due process."
In March, Roe opposed a bill that passed in the House to expand background checks, arguing that it would restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of veterans with mental health problems.
At a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, and later on the House floor, Roe said that a clause in the House gun control bill could affect more than a million veterans.
He said that the clause would make it illegal for anyone to possess firearms who has been "adjudicated with mental illness, severe developmental disability, or severe emotional instability."
"To put this in perspective, there are over 1.6 million disabled veterans with a service-connected adjudication by VA of mental illness, including one million veterans with PTSD," he said.
The Senate has yet to take up the House bill on background checks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, on Sunday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to bring the Senate back from the August recess to vote on the House bill on background checks.
Following Trump’s national address, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he would introduce legislation to set up a federal grant program to encourage more states to adopt red flag laws.
A spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Veterans Affairs Committee said via e-mail that the Roe-Petersen bill would not conflict with red flag laws since both would require a judicial authority to rule on whether an individual could own or buy a firearm.