Soldier who led sexual assault prevention accused of ‘abusive sexual contact’
WASHINGTON — A soldier assigned to coordinate a sexual assault prevention program in Texas is under investigation for “abusive sexual contact” and other alleged misconduct and has been suspended from his duties, the Army announced Wednesday.
The announcement came just one week after an Air Force officer who headed a sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested on charges of groping a woman in a parking lot.
The two cases highlight a problem that is drawing increased scrutiny in the Congress and expressions of frustration from top Pentagon leaders. Pentagon press secretary George Little said after Wednesday’s announcement that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is angry and disappointed at “these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply.”
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement Wednesday evening saying his panel is considering a number of measures to counter the problem, including changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and will act on them next month.
Holder says he had no role in review of AP phone records
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday defended the Justice Department’s secret examination of Associated Press phone records though he declared he had played no role in it, saying it was justified as part of an investigation into a grave national security leak.
The government’s wide-ranging information gathering from the news cooperative has created a bipartisan political headache for President Barack Obama, with prominent Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill expressing outrage, along with press freedom groups.
The government obtained the records from April and May of 2012 for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists, including main offices. AP’s top executive called the action a massive and unprecedented intrusion into how news organizations do their work.
Federal officials have said investigators are trying to hunt down the sources of information for a May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The probe is being run out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia.
Asked about it at a news conference on a separate topic, Holder said he removed himself from the leaked-information probe because he himself had been interviewed by FBI agents as part of the investigation.
Pa. abortion doc agrees to forgo appeal, spared death sentence
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing three babies born alive at his rogue clinic dodged a possible death sentence Tuesday in a hasty post-verdict deal with prosecutors.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, waived his right to appeal in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. Gosnell was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation’s abortion debate.
Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by “snipping” their spines, as he referred to it.
Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell’s own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed.
By wire sources