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Top US general: Being forced to commit war crimes would lower troop morale

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The top U.S. military officer told the Senate on Thursday that it would harm the morale of U.S. forces to order them to carry out activities such as waterboarding or targeting civilians, options previously cited by leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not comment on U.S. politics, and Trump’s name did not come up in a question put to him by Senator Lindsey Graham or in Dunford’s response.

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However, when asked by Graham, a former 2016 White House contender and frequent Trump critic, what the impact such tactics would have on the morale of the force, Dunford said:

“Those kinds of activities that you described are inconsistent with the values of our nation. And quite frankly I think it would have an adverse effect,” citing fallout on the morale of the force.

“And frankly what you are suggesting are things that actually aren’t legal for them to do anyway,” Dunford added.

During the campaign, Trump indicated that, if elected president, he might order the U.S. military to break the law on interrogation tactics, including waterboarding. Trump also suggested his willingness to target the families of terrorist suspects.

Trump, the Republican front-runner, softened his stance on torture earlier in March, saying he would not order the U.S. military to break international laws on how to treat terrorism suspects.

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Waterboarding is the practice of pouring water over someone’s face to mimic drowning as an interrogation tactic. Critics say it is torture. Democratic President Barack Obama banned use of the method days after taking office in 2009.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by James Dalgleish)


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COVID-19

What is China doing to stop Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak?

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Over 1,000 flights have been cancelled, schools shut and residents urged not to leave Beijing, as Chinese authorities race to contain a fresh outbreak linked to the capital's largest wholesale food market.

The number of confirmed cases in the capital has shot up to 137 within the last week after two months of no cases, and four other provinces have revealed cases linked to the Beijing cluster.

How did the outbreak begin, and what measures are Beijing taking to contain it?

- What is the origin of the cluster? -

Beijing had turned into a virtual fortress at the height of the pandemic, with people arriving from other regions or countries required to undergo quarantines.

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2020 Election

Democrats and Never-Trumpers gaming out ‘doomsday scenarios’ if president refuses to leave office: report

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According to a report in the New York Times, Democratic strategists and Never-Trumper conservatives fear Donald Trump will refuse to leave office should he lose in November and are making plans and figuring out their legal options should such an unprecedented state of affairs come to pass.

The report, by the Times' Reid Epstein, begins with one such possible scenario.

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COVID-19

‘Retaliation plain and simple’: Vaccine agency top Doc fired by Trump administration files whistleblower complaint

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Dr. Rick Bright has retained an attorney and will be filing a whistleblower complaint after the Trump administration fired him from his position as head of the federal agency charged with developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Bright was moved to a different agency with a narrower focus after he raised concerns over President Donald Trump's obsession with promoting hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug recent studies found doubles the death rate in coronavirus patients.

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