Legal Issues

Cliff-hanger U.S. budget bill

After months of brutal political infighting in Congress, President Joe Biden today signed into law a bill to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling for two years. “If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America, for the first time in our 247-year, into default on our national debt,” Biden said. “Nothing would have been more irresponsible.” Without the legislation, the U.S. would have been in default June 5 and most federal programs would have been affected. [node:read-more:link]

Australian officer loses court case

Ben Roberts-Smith, a highly-decorated former member of Ausralia’s elite Special Air Services Regiment, lost a defamation suit today against newspapers which reported that he had killed unarmed civilians in Afghanistan. He claimed the reports undermined his reputation by portraying him as having “disgraced his country and the Australian army,” Dismissing the suit after more than 100 days of hearings, the ruling judge said “the respondents had established the substantial truth” of several allegations. [node:read-more:link]

Social media scrubbing war crimes

Some social media platforms have been erasing posts about potential human rights abuses I what one executive has acknowledged may be an “overcautious” policy of deleting offensive content. YouTube and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, say they try to balance the duties to bear witness while also blocking possibly harmful posts. [node:read-more:link]

Fortin case under more scrutiny

The Military Police Complaints Commission is looking into how military police handled the sexual-assault allegation against Major-General Dany Fortin, who was cleared of misconduct and acquitted by a Quebec Court last December. Fortin says he was the victim of a biased investigation and the Commission said today that his statements about senior military officials make it a matter of public interest. [node:read-more:link]

NATO contractor suspected of espionage

Nikolaos Bogonikolos, a 59-year-old Greek whose company did contract work for NATO, is suspected of helping Russia to obtain military technologies related to quantum computing and nuclear testing. He has been arrested in Paris and the U.S. is seeking his extradition to stand trial for wire fraud and smuggling. [node:read-more:link]

Alcohol common in misconduct cases

The Department of National Defence is increasing its 24/7 emergency contacts service for uniformed and civilian employees who have been sexually assaulted. In announcing the upgrade, which includes some backdated financial help for legal costs, the Canadian Armed Forces' Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture also acknowledged that alcohol abuse is a frequent factor in assault and other misconduct. [node:read-more:link]

“Willy Peter” alleged in Ukraine

Ukraine is accusing Russia of using white phosphorus munitions in its siege of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Nicknamed “Willy Peter” by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, they are not technically prohibited in warfare but their use against civilians is considered a war crime. [node:read-more:link]

Cause of RMC cadets’ death confirmed

“Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle was a factor” in the drownings of four Royal Military College cadets when their vehicle plunged into the St. Lawrence River abutting the Kingston campus in April 2022. The Office of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal said today that this was the finding of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service. [node:read-more:link]

CSE reports increased cyber threat

There has been a “notable” increase in cyber threat activity by Russia-aligned actors, the Communications Security Establishment reported April 13. “These are attention-grabbing, but do not mean the website has been hacked or that any information has been compromised,” said Sami Khoury, head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security within the CSE. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. defence giants sued

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics are being sued in U.S. Federal Court by seven Yemeni nations for having sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition forces during the civil war in Yemen. Their claim, which also names Saudi and UAE officials, arises from two attacks which resulted in civilian deaths in 2015 and 2016. [node:read-more:link]

Alleged military leaker arrested

A 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard was arrested today by the FBI. He is described as the head of a small online gaming chat group through which classified U.S. intelligence documents have been leaked in recent months. [node:read-more:link]

Australian SpecOps culture reviewed

A four-year-long Australian inquiry which found “credible” information that current or former Special Air Service personnel were implicated in allegedly unlawful killings or mistreatment in Afghanistan has prompted a review. It focuses on a “warrior culture […] that has departed from acceptable norms” in the SAS and addresses overreliance on the SAS with inadequate downtime between deployments. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. rushes to reassure allies

The U.S. Defense Department says a leak of classified documents has not only disclosed information about the conflict in Ukraine but also intelligence about allies’ operations. U.S. officials are reaching out to concerned governments “to reassure them of our commitment to protecting intelligence and our ability to secure our partnerships.” [node:read-more:link]

Bell Textron tilt-rotor prevails

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has rejected a protest against Bell Textron having won the Army’s largest rotary-wing contract in 40 years: up to $1.3 billion to replace about 2,000 Sikorsky Black Hawk utility helicopters. Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky and Boeing had protested the award last year but Bell Textron’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor now is cleared for takeoff. [node:read-more:link]

Is neutrality a viable doctrine?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, leaving only a handful of European states claiming neutrality. There are questions about how their doctrines can be sustained without them becoming a security risk because of the likelihood that major powers could be less inclined to respect their neutrality. [node:read-more:link]


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