Civilan analysts linked to failures on Iraq rewarded

Sunday, May 29, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Two Army analysts whose work has been connected to a major intelligence shortcoming on Iraq have received awards for job performance over the last few years, according to officials. The two civilian analysts work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center -- one of three U.S. agencies criticized by the presidential commission that probed U.S. intelligence on Iraq. The Pentagon, in a written statement, told The Washington Post the awards for the analysts were to recognize their overall contributions on the job over the course of each of the past three years, and that "supervisors were encouraged to reward individuals on the basis of their annual contributions." The analysts are former military men who are experts on foreign and U.S. weaponry. Their work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets.

Illinois lawmakers limit violent video game sales

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Lawmakers voted Saturday to ban the sale of violent or sexually explicit video games to minors in Illinois, a move other states and cities have tried but federal courts have repeatedly struck down. The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who proposed the ban late last year after hearing about the video game "JFK Reloaded," which puts the player in the role of president John F. Kennedy's assassin. Under the legislation, clerks who knowingly sell adult video games to minors could be fined $1,000. They could defend themselves by showing they did not know the buyer was a minor or that they followed the industry ratings on the games. The legislation leaves it to stores to determine which games are too violent or sexually explicit for minors, and retailers have argued it turns them into violence and sensitivity police.

West Point graduates called a 'special class'

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Graduating U.S. Military Academy cadets -- who came here just weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- were told Saturday they were a special group forged by historic events. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the class "one of the few since the early days of the Vietnam War who came to West Point in peacetime, saw the nation transition to war and chose to stay, knowing you would raise your right hand and take an oath and swear to defend the constitution of a nation that was still at war." The Class of 2005 is nicknamed the "Class of 9-11" and, ironically, the number of graduates was 911. About seven in 10 of the new second lieutenants who threw their caps in the air are expected to be in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan within a year.

Air Force Academy case turns to rape counselor

DENVER -- An arrest warrant has been issued for a rape counselor who refused to turn over records of her sessions with a former Air Force Academy cadet, one of the women whose allegations touched off a scandal that toppled the academy's top leaders. Jennifer Bier is fighting a subpoena in the court-martial of airman Joseph Harding, who is accused of sexually assaulting two women at the academy in 1999 and 2000. His attorneys say their client's right to a fair trial overrides the alleged victim's right to privacy. Bier's attorney, Wendy Murphy, said on Saturday that she planned to seek an emergency order Tuesday in federal court to prevent Bier's arrest, but she was not sure if the court would accept the case.

Mother who hired stripper for juvenile son indicted

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A mother faces criminal charges after she hired a stripper to dance at her 16-year-old son's birthday party. Anette Pharris, 34, has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and involving a minor in obscene acts. The boy's father, the stripper and two others also face charges. About 10 people under the age of 18 were at the birthday party in September, including minors who were not related to the family, authorities said. Anette Pharris took photos at the party and tried to have them developed at a nearby drug store. Drug store employees notified authorities, police said.

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