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A bomb exploded at a downtown bus station in Kenya's capital late yesterday as passengers boarded a bus, killing at least one person and wounding more than 39 others, Police say the person who was killed was carrying a piece of luggage that contained the bomb. Most of the wounded were Ugandans traveling home for Christmas, Al-Shabab, Somalia's most dangerous militant group, has threatened to carry out more attacks on Uganda and Burundi, the two nations that contribute troops to the 8,000-strong African Union force in Mogadishu.
Congress has authorized the Pentagon to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no major restrictions on the conduct of operations. This year's approved legislation includes $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat. Among its numerous provisions is a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops and a guarantee that children of service members can stay covered under the military's TRICARE health care program until they are 26 years of age.
There are consequences to posting those Wikileaks documents. The Air Force has blocked access on its network to more than two dozen media outlets who have posted them. The Pentagon has warned personnel not to go to the Wikileaks site, but this takes it a step further. Meaning, US Air Force personnel will not be able to get to those sites from their military networks. Among those blocked are the Guardian and the New York Times.
Lingering concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and al-Qaida-linked terrorists plotting attacks against the West in Yemen are at the top of the list of concerns for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He expressed those concerns during remarks at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. He said that the U.S. must be willing to do more financially, diplomatically and economically for countries that have problems before they erupt and trigger military action.
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced the son of a convicted spy to five years of probation for helping his father contact his old Russian handlers. Nathan Nicholson, son of ex-CIA agent Harold "Jim" Nicholson, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. The son had been used as the middle man in an attempt to try to collect money from the Russians while behind bars. The younger Nicholson apologized to the court and said he was embarrassed by his actions. Harold Nicholson is one of the highest-ranking CIA officers ever convicted of espionage.
The long-term fallout of the Wikileaks disclosure is turning up already. Some foreign governments appear to be pulling back already. Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, says "We have gotten indications that there is at least some change in how individuals and governments cooperate with us, and share information," Lapan repeated the concern that would-be informants or established intelligence sources might not be coming forward out of fear they could be exposed, or that governments might become more "circumspect with the information they share."
Iran says nuclear issues are not even up for discussion when it meets major powers in Geneva on Today. So it's not clear how productive the first the first talks in a year will be. But even if Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany do agree to meet again, the process is expected to be long in terms of pomp and circumstance, but may be short on productivity. The United States is urging Iran to enter the talks in good faith and warned of more pressure and isolation if Tehran doesn't.
The defense budget for the U.S. is going to recede, but it's not clear exactly when or by how much. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants the military to find $100 billion in savings in overhead over the next five years to put back into troop costs and weapons programs and he wants to do it while keeping the overall Pentagon budget growing at about 1 percent a year. Marine Corps General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday other parts of the government might have a problem with that.
President Barack Obama is looking for help from former Secretary of State Colin Powell to jump start the short-circuited nuclear treaty with the Russians. Powell, a retired four-star Army general and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said, "We're not exactly sure what's going on in the Russian Federation, and they're not exactly sure what's going on in the United States." The START treaty would reduce how many strategic warheads the United States and Russia could hold and set up a system so each could inspect and verify the other's arsenal.
An investigation -- which was prompted by a September report from WTOP -- has found more misplaced remains at Arlington National Cemetery.