FUBAR

Speaking out for gay rights

Military opponents of the US “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly gay soldiers from serving in the military spoke out this week in Washington, in the latest criticism of the legislation.

Coinciding with the law’s 14th anniversary Friday, 28 retired generals and admirals put their names to a letter to Congress, demanding that the controversial legislation be scrapped.

“We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the letter said.

A troubled man in troubled times

Leeland Eisenberg was already in trouble before he walked into one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign offices. Three days earlier, his wife had filed for divorce; he was due to appear in court with her for a domestic violence hearing in about half an hour.

Then, the nicely dressed, gray-haired man peeled open his jacket to reveal what looked like dynamite strapped to his chest, authorities said, and things got much worse.

So much for the war on terror

Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

Of the 43 “fusion centers” already established, only two focus exclusively on preventing terrorism, the Government Accountability Office found in a national survey obtained by The Associated Press. Center directors complain they were hampered by lack of guidance from Washington and were flooded by often redundant information from multiple computer systems.

The old man’s last gasp

Fidel Castro was calling by cell phone during Hugo Chavez’s final remarks at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, after King Juan Carlos of Spain had told Chavez, Venezuela’s president, to shut up.

The convalescing Cuban dictator wanted to tell Chavez he was thinking about the Chilean volunteers who had gone off to fight against Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in the 1960s.

Is Castro’s reminiscence of consequence? You decide.

Witnesses describe Blackwater horrors

A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor’s bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other “judgment altering substances.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman said Tuesday its employees are banned from using steroids or other enhancement drugs but declined to comment on the other charges detailed in the 18-page lawsuit.

Just say we won and leave Iraq

The Democratic presidential pack is desperate. Five senators, a governor and a representative are seeking one surefire way to capture hearts, minds and votes whenever they are asked what should be done about Iraq now that post-surge statistics show violence there has at least temporarily declined.

Their quandary is based on a false perception that many think and no one speaks: The misguided notion that good news for the U.S. military is bad news for Democratic presidential prospects.

In Iraq for the long term

How long will the U.S. be in Iraq? A very long time, according to Bush administration plans, on the order of the 60-plus years we’ve been in Germany and Japan and the 50-plus years in South Korea. In other words, more or less permanently.

President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki have signed a “Declaration of Principles” for a long-term relationship. Although it is nonbinding, it lays the groundwork for a formal, binding treaty to be signed next summer that would include a status of forces agreement laying out the conditions under which U.S. troops would remain in Iraq.

Abandoning our friends

One of the great scandals — maybe “disgraces” is a better word — of the Iraqi war effort is our treatment of the Iraqis who risked their lives to work for the U.S. military and government and American civilian contractors.

Many of them are in exile in neighboring countries, having been forced to abandon their homes and careers in Iraq and facing assassination if they return. Many want to settle in the United States, and they think that’s only fair because they lost everything in our service. And they’re right.

FUBAR at the FBI

Here’s a science question for you. When does an ounce of lead differ from another ounce of lead?

Answer: When it is being tested in an FBI laboratory.

Oops, my mistake. When it USED to be tested in an FBI laboratory for the purpose of identifying from which gun it was fired.

Another good reason to not bomb Iran

It’s tempting to think of all Iranians in terms of the mob that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 or the intemperate remarks of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel and the Holocaust. But certain recent events in Iran provide insight into what its people are really like and why we shouldn’t be hasty about dropping bombs on them.