February 11th, 2015
(Reuters) - Shortly before being slain, Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL whose autobiography was turned into the hit movie "American Sniper," texted a friend next to him in a pickup truck that the man who moments later would shoot them both was "nuts," a defense lawyer said on Wednesday.
A Texas jury heard opening statements and the first witness in the trial of former U.S. Marine Eddie Ray Routh, 27. He is charged with murdering Kyle and Chad Littlefield, Kyle's friend and neighbor, in February 2013 at a shooting range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth.
Routh was driven to the range by Kyle, who had been helping fellow veterans heal the mental scars stemming from combat.
As the three men sped over Texas country roads, Kyle, who was credited with the most kills of any U.S. sniper, sent a text to Littlefield that read: "This dude is straight up nuts," defense attorney Tim Moore told jurors.
Prosecutors told the jury of 10 women and two men in rural Erath County that Routh was aware of what he was doing and acted "knowingly and intentionally" when he gunned down Kyle and Littlefield.
Kyle, a ranch hand turned military man, has been lionized in his home state of Texas where many people see him as a model of dedication to country and servicemen. His story has gained renewed attention thanks to the Oscar-nominated movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper.
Defense attorneys did not dispute that Routh shot the men but pressed their case that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. They said he was in a paranoid psychotic episode and did not know his actions were wrong when he shot the two men. They said Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, caused by overseas deployments.
Routh, dressed in a dark suit and sporting a crew cut, took notes at points through the trial.
Kyle's widow, Taya, the first witness called, said her husband was renowned for his skills as a sniper and serviceman.
“He was good at what he did," she said, choking back tears as she recounted life with him and learning of his death.
'ARE YOU OK?'
She said she knew something was amiss when she spoke by phone to Kyle at the shooting range, a scenic location he often visited to help fellow veterans trying to manage PTSD.
"I could tell something was up," she said, adding Kyle was quick on the phone, likely to avoid letting Routh know his irritation.
"I texted 'Are you OK? I am getting worried,'” she said. No response arrived.
A few hours later, a police officer came to her house to say that officers were searching for her husband's pickup truck. Shortly after that, she learned her husband was dead, she told the jury, trying to hold back tears.
Staff at the lodge that housed the shooting range and emergency medical technicians said Littlefield's body was found on a shooting platform, while Kyle was found a few yards away in the dirt. Both were soaked in blood and there were no signs of life.
"Chris was face down, nose in the dirt," one of the lodge staff said. The two were declared dead at the scene.
Taya Kyle said bonding over target practice helped her husband discuss difficult matters with veterans trying to adjust to life after battle.
"They can really talk and commiserate and get some healing done," she said of the outings.
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash said Routh shot the two men multiple times in the back and stole the truck and weapons, knowing it was wrong.
Nash said Routh served as a weapons tech in a safe zone in Iraq. The defense told the jury that Routh was severely affected mentally by his earthquake relief efforts with the Marines in Haiti in 2010.
The trial is expected to take about two weeks. If Routh is convicted, prosecutors said they would seek a life sentence.
February 11th, 2015
Central Command reportedly is furious over a State Department order that Marines guarding the U.S. Embassy in Yemen were told by the State Department to turn their rifles over to Yemeni officials before boarding a private plane to evacuate the country, Fox News reports.
The order is humiliating to Marines, who are essentially being told to break an oath they take during training, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, told Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File."
"We're surrendering our embassy. And now we're asking U.S. Marines to surrender their dignity, give up oaths they made, creeds that they lived by, and surrender their rifle," Hegseth said. "I'm no Marine, but I know a lot of them and fought alongside a lot of them. Without their rifle they are nothing. They are taught you never give that up."
The Rifleman's Creed reads, in part, "My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless."
"This is a mindless stupid bureaucrat making a decision like that offensive to military culture, offensive to procedures," Retired Four-Star Gen. Jack Keane told Kelly. "I'm sure people at central command are furious."
Kelly said that Fox News' reporting has indicated that CENTCOM is indeed furious.
Fox News later reported that the Marine Corps clarified that no "crew-served weapons" were turned over to anyone, but were destroyed at the embassy before the evacuation. "They say their personal weapons were not destroyed at the embassy. They were instead 'rendered inoperable' at the airport and the destroyed components were left behind at the airport," Megyn Kelly said.
"They do not dispute, in this statement, the reporting that we have earlier tonight that CENTCOM is outraged over this entire incident about weapons being rendered inoperable at the direction of the State Department."
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February 11th, 2015
Written by Warren Mass
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has established a hotline so that illegal immigrants who think that their apprehension and pending deportation might not be in compliance with the new Obama administration amnesty “priorities” may call and tell CBP about their experience.
A message posted on the CBP website reads:
If you (or a family member) were apprehended and processed by a CBP officer or Border Patrol agent and then placed into removal proceedings and you believe that you do not fall within the DHS enforcement priorities, please tell us about your experience by contacting the CBP INFO Center at: [phone numbers follow]
CBP lists several categories of illegal immigrants who might wish to avail themselves of this service, including “individuals in CBP custody,” “individuals with removal orders who are scheduled for removal and are not in CBP custody,” and “individuals who wish to file a complaint regarding a CBP removal encounter.”
The decision drew immediate response from Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents CBP agents and support staff.
“Instead of supporting our agents, this administration has decided it is more important to find new ways to solicit complaints and invite ridicule against them,” Moran told the Washington Times. “We demand that this administration spend more time defending the men and women defending our nation and less time promoting the extreme agendas of pro-illegal-immigration organizations.”
Moran said he would rather see the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set up a complaint line for agents instead, so they could register their concerns over the Obama administration’s “failure to fully enforce our immigration laws.”
To make it easier for illegal immigrants to take advantage of the Obama administration’s new executive action policies, the CBP page gives people the ability to complain online, by clicking on a “Submit a Complaint” button. The person filing the complaint is instructed to “include all relevant details including your name, where and when the incident happened, and a full explanation for further review of why you believe you or your family member was incorrectly detained contrary to the new DHS enforcement priorities.” (Emphasis in original.)
Once clicking on the button, the user has the option of giving his or her name and receiving a reply or remaining anonymous. Those who select the "anonymous" option are encouraged to “include, as applicable, where this occurred (i.e. port of entry, Border Patrol Sector, etc) the date and time, and the name(s) or description(s) of any CBP personnel involved.”
This anonymity feature turns the concept of an “anonymous tip line” on its head, allowing those who have admittedly broken our laws to anonymously name and complain about our law enforcement agents!
A notice posted on the CBP website correctly states that last November 20, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “announced new immigration enforcement priorities and guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in a memorandum entitled Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.”
February 10th, 2015
The Washington Times
The government expects so many applications for President Obama’s new deportation amnesty that it’s seeking a contractor just to open the new mail and enter the forms into the system, with plans to operate two shifts from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every workday to keep up with the anticipated workload.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with approving the applications, expects more than 800,000 applications in just the first two and a half months, or a 70 percent surge compared to last year’s total intake for the entire agency. Over the first 18 or so months, the agency will process more than 4 million pieces of mail related to the larger part of the new amnesty, according to contracting documents.
All applications must be opened in the presence of two workers, one with “secret” security clearance, in order to maintain integrity of the applications, and mail may need to be X-rayed for security reasons, the documents show.
“USCIS is building the additional capacity needed to begin accepting requests for upcoming immigration initiatives,” the agency said in a statement to The Washington Times. “USCIS is on pace to have several hundred employees on board and trained by mid-May, which will ensure every case processed by USCIS receives a thorough, case-by-case review under our guidelines.”
But one former USCIS executive testified to Congress last week that the agency is going to be overwhelmed by the volume of applications and the truncated approval process.
“It’s going to be hard to tell how much fraud there is,” said Luke Bellocchi, a former deputy ombudsman for USCIS, as he testified to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week.
He said the agency is likely to use “abbreviated” criminal records checks that won’t delve too deeply into applicants’ backgrounds, and said the 2012 amnesty — known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which was a test run for the broader amnesty Mr. Obama announced last year, accepted “pretty much any kind of documentation” to establish their identity.
That could be an even bigger problem for the new amnesty, known as DAPA — or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability — which applies to illegal immigrants who arrived as adults and who could have committed crimes in their home countries that wouldn’t show up on the abbreviated criminal checks.
The administration says it is confident in its ability to make a case-by-case decision on each application, and says it expects half of the 3.85 million people eligible for the new amnesty to apply once the application period opens in the middle of May.
February 10th, 2015
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay. The suspension comes just a week after he apologized for "misremembering" a military incident while reporting overseas. VPCor and managing editor Brian Williams immediately for six months without pay, forgoing the option of firing the embattled newsman for now due to his popularity and past work at the network.
"As I'm sure you understand, this was a very hard decision," wrote NBC News President Deborah Turness in a memo distributed to staff members late Tuesday. "Certainly there will be those who disagree. But we believe this suspension is the appropriate and proportionate action."
Lester Holt, who was tapped to fill in while Williams sat out, will continue to serve as substitute anchor of NBC Nightly News. Williams took himself off the air Saturday after soldiers revealed that his account of being on a Chinook helicopter that went down during the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not true.
"We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years," Turness said. "Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization."
Turness said the decision to suspend Williams was made jointly with NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and Pat Fili, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group. NBCUniversal, which operates NBC News, is a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp.
Williams replaced Tom Brokaw in 2004 as NBC Nightly News anchor after working as a reporter at the network since the early 1990s. Mixing serious journalism with occasional appearances on late night talk shows, Williams has helped NBC Nightly News retain its lead over competitors. Despite the overall drop in evening news viewership over the years, NBC Nightly News averages about 9 million to 10 million viewers a night, edging ABC's World News Tonight and CBS Evening News.
"It's basically a slap on the wrist. If you or I had done this, we'd have been fired immediately," said Mark Feldstein, a broadcast journalism professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. "He's a franchise with a following, and I think that is a lot more important to corporate executives than mere sentimentality. I think they're trying to preserve the Williams brand that they've invested millions in."
Last Friday, NBC News confirmed it began conducting its investigation of Williams' claims about his work. The probe, led by Richard Esposito, head of its investigative team, in cooperation with NBCUniversal General Counsel Kim Harris, is ongoing. "This has been a difficult time," Turness wrote. "Because of you, your loyalty, your dedication, NBC News is an organization we can – and should - all be proud of. We will get through this together."