For more than two years, the Navy’s intelligence chief has been stuck with a major handicap: He’s not allowed to know any secrets.
Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch has been barred from reading, seeing or hearing classified information since November 2013, when the Navy learned from the Justice Department that his name had surfaced in a giant corruption investigation involving a foreign defense contractor and scores of Navy personnel, the Washington Post is reporting.
Worried that Branch was on the verge of being indicted, Navy leaders suspended his access to classified materials. They did the same to one of his deputies, Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy’s director of intelligence operations.
More than 800 days later, neither Branch nor Loveless has been charged. But neither has been cleared, either. Their access to classified information remains blocked.
In a German prison camp 71 years ago, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds stared down the barrel of his Nazi captor’s pistol and refused to say which of his fellow prisoners of war were Jewish, according to the Boston Globe.
“We are all Jews here,” said Edmonds, the highest-ranking US noncommissioned officer at Ziegenhein stalag that day, instead ordering more than 1,000 of his fellow prisoners to stand together in front of their barracks.
The Geneva Conventions required soldiers to provide only their names, ranks, and serial numbers, not their religions, Edmonds said, warning the German that if he shot them all, he would be tried for war crimes.
That act of defiance in January 1945 spared the lives of as many as 200 Jews, and, Wednesday, Edmonds received posthumous recognition by President Obama as the first US service member to be named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Obama made an appearance at the Israeli Embass to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, holding up Edmonds and others who showed heroism during World War II as symbols of the values Israel and the United States share.
Military Times is reporting that 21 federal lawmakers have written Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald urging him to let VA doctors discuss marijuana as a potential medical treatment in states where it is legal.
Under a VA policy that expires on Jan. 31, VA doctors are not allowed to discuss medical marijuana with their patients or recommend it as a treatment.
Senators and representatives — 19 Democrats and two Republicans, including Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada, a physician and Army Reserve brigadier general who chairs the House Armed Services personnel panel — want a new policy that “removes barriers that would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship” in states where medical marijuana is legal.
The policy, lawmaker say, “disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”
Barry Coates, the U.S. veteran who became the human face of the Veterans Affairs scandal over delays in care in 2014, died on Saturday of the cancer that wracked his body after waits for medical care at a VA facility. He was 46.
Coates became a national figure representing delays in medical care at VA hospitals after he was featured prominently in a CNN investigation in January 2014.
The CNN investigation that included Coates was the first national story about delays in care across the country that year. It led to a national controversy resulting in the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, and ultimately a law that provided $16 billion to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.