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Joint chiefs chair: Afghan leaders ready to curb ‘insider attacks’

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Afghan leaders appear ready to take decisive action to curb unprecedented “insider attacks” by Afghan recruits that have killed 40 Western troops this year, the top US military officer said Monday.

“For the first time, I found that my Afghan counterparts are as concerned about the insider attacks as we are,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said after talks in Kabul.

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“In the past, it’s been us pushing on them to make sure that they do more,” he told AFP and Fox News.
The four-star general met commanders of the NATO-led force and Afghan top brass amid growing concern over a surge in assaults by Afghan security personnel on their international colleagues.

A total of 10 soldiers, mostly Americans, have lost their lives at the hands of their Afghan allies in the past two weeks, and the attacks have caused almost one in every four coalition deaths in the war so far this month.

The 40 deaths so far this year amount to 13 percent of all international coalition fatalities in the period.

The attacks threaten to undercut the NATO war effort and have confounded the international force, which has touted its partnership with Afghan troops as the key to the exit of combat troops over the next two years.

NATO and American officers have suggested the Afghan government has failed to come to grips with the problem but Dempsey said he came away “reassured” after discussions with his Afghan counterpart, General Shir Mohammad Karimi.

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“I am reassured that the Afghan leaders, military and civilian, understand how important this moment is,” Dempsey said.

Taliban insurgents have taken credit for the so-called green-on-blue assaults while NATO officers say an internal review showed only about 10 percent of them were the result of infiltration.

NATO has blamed them on a mixture of cultural differences, personal vendettas and propaganda by Islamist militants.

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In the latest incident an Afghan in police uniform killed a NATO soldier in the south on Sunday, shortly before Dempsey arrived, the military said.

The attacks are unprecedented in US military history and they have spawned so much mistrust that foreign troops have been ordered to be armed at all times, even within bases, officers said.

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“I think there’s no doubt it’s a strategic threat,” said one senior officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Afghan authorities have adopted more rigorous vetting of recruits and NATO has bolstered counter-intelligence but the measures have failed to stem the problem.

NATO has about 130,000 soldiers fighting an insurgency by Taliban Islamists, but they are due to pull out in 2014 and now work increasingly with the Afghans they are training to take over.

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Dempsey, on the first leg of a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, said the insider violence would not alter the timetable for withdrawal or the coalition’s emphasis on cooperating with Afghan recruits.

But the growing number of attacks is likely to add to pressure in NATO nations for an early exit from the increasingly unpopular conflict, now nearly 11 years old and America’s longest war.

New Zealand pledged Monday to withdraw from Afghanistan as quickly as possible after three of its troops were killed, albeit in a bomb attack and not by their Afghan colleagues.

The insider attacks are on a scale unknown in recent wars such as those in Vietnam and Iraq, experts say.

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“To the best of my knowledge the sort of ‘green on blue’ attacks on the Western troops in Afghanistan have no parallel in recent military history,” said Nick Mills, an associate professor of journalism at Boston University who served in the US Army as a photographer in Vietnam.

Dempsey, who commanded US soldiers during the Iraq war, said the attacks were a new phenomenon for American forces but were not without precedent in Afghanistan, where British troops experienced similar turncoat assaults in the 19th century.

To deter the attacks, the coalition force might need to expand its partnership rather than scale back its cooperation with Afghans, he said.

Dempsey said it was possible that “the actual key to this would not be to pull back and isolate ourselves but reach out and embrace them even more.”

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Giuliani’s latest trip to Ukraine opened a new door for prosecutors to go after Trump: MSNBC analyst

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On MSNBC Saturday afternoon, legal analyst Danny Cevallos explained how Rudy Giuliani's trip to Ukraine to produce anti-impeachment propaganda could end up harming his legal position — by muddying attorney-client privilege with President Donald Trump.

"The only path to legitimacy is if there was a true corruption threat in Ukraine, and specifically if Hunter Biden and Burisma posed a true corruption threat," said Cevallos. "That is why Rudy Giuliani is in Ukraine. He's building that case. So that he can show, bring a news network there, right-leaning news network to do a documentary or investigate this issue and yield factual information that Rudy Giuliani can point to and say, this corruption, this evidence, these facts show that President trump was warranted in requesting an investigation, not generally into corruption, specifically into Hunter Biden. It's the only path that will work for Republicans that passes even remotely any kind of smell test. Even then, it's a bit of a stretch."

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Trump declares himself the ‘greatest of all presidents’ in manic tweetstorm attacking Pelosi and Democrats

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Donald Trump broke out of his Twitter hibernation on Saturday afternoon just before flying off to Florida for a pair of fundraisers, and used the opportunity to declare himself the "greatest of all presidents."

Attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not passing his signature trade bill, Trump then went after Democrats for trying to impeach him -- saying they were making a big mistake.

On Twitter, the president wrote: ""Hard to believe, but if Nancy Pelosi had put our great Trade Deal with Mexico and Canada, USMCA, up for a vote long ago, our economy would be even better. If she doesn’t move quickly, it will collapse!"

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Donald Trump sounds like a complete lunatic because he’s isolated himself in a far-right media bubble

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

If you have an older relative who spends way too much time stewing in the conservative media, you may have experienced a moment when you not only disagreed with him, but you realized that you had no earthly clue what he was going on about. Perhaps it was when he started talking about the UN plot to eliminate golf courses and replace paved roads with bicycle paths. Maybe he stopped you in your tracks with a discourse on why flies were attracted to Barack Obama, or complained about the government insisting on referring to Christians as "Easter-worshippers" or expressed outrage over 9/11 hijackers being given leniency by Muslim jurists.

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