KABUL, Afghanistan — It’s painful for US soldiers to hear discussions and watch movies about modern wars when the dialogue is full of obsolete slang, like “chopper” and “GI.”
Slang changes with the times, and the military’s is no different. Soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.
The definitive glossary of modern US military slang
Photos by Ben Brody/GlobalPost
NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide
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CAIRO, Egypt — Until recently, the United States and Egypt shared a very special arrangement.
Here’s how it went: the US government would collect taxes from the American people. It would give a portion of the proceeds — about $1.3 billion a year — to help Egypt’s military. Egypt’s military would then give that money back to the United States, or at least to the country’s major defense corporations, in return for goods and services.
This special relationship was necessary, the US government said, to maintain stability in the Middle East.
Well, stability in the Middle East is hard to come by these days, as is a justification for giving the military leaders of Egypt — one of the least stable countries on the planet right now — so many resources.
As a Loya Jirga, or grand council, prepared to gather in Kabul Thursday to debate Afghanistan’s future, final details were being negotiated on a document that could keep thousands of United States soldiers — and billions of dollars — in the country indefinitely.
Some 3,000 Afghan lawmakers and politicians have been summoned to the council, which, according to the Afghan constitution, is “the highest manifestation of the people of Afghanistan,” with the power to “take decision on the issues related to independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and supreme interests of the country.”
This may well be true, but in reality the Loya Jirga is a purely consultative body, with no legal teeth.
Critics argue that President Hamid Karzai has convened the assembly to give an illusion of popular support to what is all but a done deal: a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that would, in effect, turn Afghanistan into a US protectorate for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday, hours before the council’s opening, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and President Karzai had finalized the draft to be reviewed by the Loya Jirga.
Afghanistan: The war is over! Long live the war!
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
Documents show NSA repeatedly violated spy limits
The fallout from documents leaked to the media by Edward Snowden last spring continued this week, as the National Security Agency released over 1,000 pages of previously classified documents showing that it repeatedly violated surveillance rules, and that those violations had been reported to a U.S. intelligence court, which provided inconsistent oversight that often failed to stop many of the spy agency’s transgressions.
The documents, released late on Monday, also show that the NSA promised to institute additional safety measures to prevent similar missteps.
After repeated assurances the NSA would obey the court’s rules, it acknowledged that it had collected material improperly, according to court records from 2009. In one instance, the government said its violations were caused by “poor management, lack of involvement by compliance officials and lack of internal verification procedures, not by bad faith.” In another case, the NSA said it improperly collected information due to a typographical error.
Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
KABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan — This year marks the last full fighting season before the scheduled drawdown of US troops begins in earnest in 2014. People are not sure what to expect as the Americans prepare to leave, particularly in villages like this one where there is a girls’ school—the first ever in the community. Villagers worry the Taliban—with its draconian views towards women—will exert its influence as soon as the US troops pull out, and their school could be closed, or worse, attacked.
VIDEO: A school in Afghanistan wonders ‘what tomorrow brings’
Kerry admits US surveillance has, at times, ‘gone too far’
After days of news reports based off of revelations by ex-National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance activities, Secretary of State John Kerryhas admitted that in some cases the U.S. program had gone too far.
"I assure you, innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there’s an effort to try to gather information," Kerry told a London conference via video link. "And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.”
Thursday’s statement by Kerry was the first to explicitly acknowledge overstepping by U.S. intelligence.
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images