CACI Awarded Millions in New Govt. Contracts Despite Being Accused of Widespread Abuse in Lawsuit Brought by 256 Prisoners Held in Iraqi Jails

The private military firm CACI International was recently awarded lucrative, multi-million dollar contracts from the U.S. Army and the Department of Justice. The contracts came despite a lawsuit CACI is facing for alleged abuses in Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib. We speak with attorney Susan Burke, who filed the suit on behalf of 256 prisoners held in Iraqi jails.

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Opium fields spread across Iraq as farmers try to make ends meet

God = Gold, Oil, Drugs.  
Opium fields spread across Iraq as farmers try to make ends meet Click here for full-size version

The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops.

Afghan with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates, north- east of Baghdad.

At a heavily guarded farm near the town of Buhriz, south of the provincial capital Baquba, poppies are grown between the orange trees in order to hide them, according to a local source.

The shift by Iraqi farmers to producing opium was first revealed by The Independent last May and is a very recent development. The first poppy fields, funded by drug smugglers who previously supplied Saudi Arabia and the Gulf with heroin from Afghanistan, were close to the city of Diwaniyah in southern Iraq. The growing of poppies has now spread to Diyala, which is one of the places in Iraq where al-Qa’ida is still resisting US and Iraqi government forces. It is also deeply divided between Sunni, Shia and Kurd and the extreme violence means that local security men have little time to deal with the drugs trade. The speed with which farmers are turning to poppies is confirmed by the Iraqi news agency al-Malaf Press, which says that opium is now being produced around the towns of Khalis, Sa’adiya, Dain’ya and south of Baladruz, pointing out that these are all areas where al-Qa’ida is strong.

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Thank God this plane didn’t disintegrate like flight 93

Plane ‘lost power before crash landing’

LONDON – A British Airways plane which crash landed at London’s Heathrow airport lost all power in the last stages of its descent, it has been reported.

An airport worker told the BCC that the pilot said the plane lost all power and was forced to glide to land.

As many as 18 people were injured and an investigation has started as to why the Boeing 777 – flying in from China – landed short of the runway.

The airport worker said the pilot told him there was no warning and the electronics just failed instantly, the BBC reported.

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Ailing GIs deployed to war zones

COLORADO SPRINGS — Fort Carson sent soldiers who were not medically fit to war zones last month to meet “deployable strength” goals, according to e-mails obtained by The Denver Post.

One e-mail, written Jan. 3 by the surgeon for Fort Carson’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, says: “We have been having issues reaching deployable strength, and thus have been taking along some borderline soldiers who we would otherwise have left behind for continued treatment.”

Capt. Scot Tebo’s e-mail was, in part, a reference to Master Sgt. Denny Nelson, a 19-year Army veteran, who was sent overseas last month despite doctors’ orders that he not run, jump or carry more than 20 pounds for three months because of a severe foot injury.

Nelson took the medical report to the Soldier Readiness Process, or SRP, site on Fort Carson, where health-care professionals recommended Nelson stay home.

The soldier, who has a Bronze Star and is a member of the Mountain Post’s Audie Murphy Chapter, was sent to Kuwait on Dec. 29.

Nelson says he was one of at least 52 soldiers deployed who should not have been, and a veterans group says the military is endangering soldiers to meet its goals.

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