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BC-KY--Fort Knox Shooting/115 Eds: APNewsNow. Fort Knox sergeant pleads guilty to murder

FORT KNOX, Ky. (AP) — A U.S. Army sergeant has pleaded guilty in the shooting death of a civilian employee last year at Fort Knox.

The News-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1eKlBCo) reports Sgt. Marquinta Jacobs of Radcliff entered the plea Thursday as his court martial began to charges of premeditated murder and aggravated assault in the death of 51-year-old Lloyd R. Gibert of Elizabethtown.

Investigators say Jacobs approached Gibert in the parking lot near the Human Resources Command building where Gibert worked.

The newspaper reports the judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, and a demotion in rank.

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Information from: The News-Enterprise, http://www.thenewsenterprise.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

bc-obama 01-08 1354 (wap) (ATTN: National editors) //Gates's criticism of Obama in 'Duty' shows risks of initial 'team of rivals' approach// By Scott Wilson (c) 2014, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON — In reminiscing about his time in office and the advice he has received along the way, President Barack Obama often cites an early warning passed on by the Washington veteran he decided to keep in his first Cabinet: Robert Gates.

"Every day," Gates told Obama in the first weeks of his presidency, "someone, somewhere, in the federal government is screwing up."

Now it turns out that Gates often believed that person was Obama — or, at least, some of those very close to him.

With the impending publication of a memoir that is critical of the president and some of his closest advisers, Gates has highlighted the risk Obama took by building a jostling, ambitious, big-intellect "team of rivals" to advise him.

The former defense secretary, a holdover from the Bush administration, has called into question Obama's commitment to his Afghan war policy, criticized how political calculation influenced national security decisions and complained about the president's distrust of the uniformed military command.

An exercise in therapeutic truth-telling, perhaps, but also rough and in some ways unexpected treatment from a former friend.

Even before official publication, the reception of "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" is splitting along partisan lines, reinforcing and deepening the perceptions of the administration that have hardened over the years.

Conservatives see a politically motivated White House and a president who couldn't decide what to do in Afghanistan, choosing a half-measure and escape plan instead of a strategy to win. Liberals see a president unafraid of the military and eager to reflect the country's growing anti-war sentiment, focusing instead on economic problems at home.

In that sense, Obama probably faces little lasting political damage from the account. But there are other implications that go to the personality of this president and of his senior advisers.

Since taking office, Obama and his most loyal inner circle, small and largely stagnant in composition over the years, have been accused of insularity at best, and a paranoid "us vs. them" mentality at worst.

Only veterans of Obama's U.S. Senate office or of his surprising victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses were trusted implicitly as the administration took shape. Others — but only a very few others — worked their way in with loyalty and long hours.

Obama has never acknowledged the criticism's validity, but he has discussed the need to open up his administration to more outside voices and to new advisers — if for no other reason than because some of his longest serving ones are now departing or near exhaustion.

This year, after the difficulties of the past one, was envisioned as an opportunity to do so.

But just as the Gates memoir is reinforcing partisan views about Obama, it may also serve as a kind of vindication of the opinion that only a select few longtime advisers can be trusted to serve him.

The effect may be a West Wing even more leery of outsiders, with Gates as the latest evidence to support the just-because-we're-paranoid-doesn't-mean-they're-not-out-to-get-you sensitivity in Obama's inner circle.

In the memoir, Gates writes that he was "put off by the way the president closed the meeting," referring to one devoted to Iran's nuclear program and Israel's concerns about it.

"To his very closest advisers, he said, 'For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe you be my witness,' " Gates writes of Obama. "I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters."

"Duty" hits book stores next week.

White House officials say the feeling in the West Wing about Gates's assertions is a sense of disappointment more than betrayal. The book is a distraction at a time when postwar Afghanistan plans are in flux, fallout from National Security Agency disclosures are roiling diplomatic relations and Iraq is surging with violence, they say.

"The irony is that the very diverse range of views that have been represented in the national security team undermines the notion of insularity he writes about," one senior administration official said, requesting anonymity to speak about the internal process.

The official added, "You never know what somebody is going to say when they leave the administration. But I can tell you that no one who has left a national security meeting in this White House has felt that the meeting went exactly their way."

"The importance of the process isn't that someone's opinion is adopted, but that it is heard," the official said. "And if there's one thing that can be said about the Afghan review process, it's that everyone was heard."

On taking office as a still-recovering academic, Obama liked the idea of big personalities debating policy, edgy internal colloquies that required the preparation of the Harvard Law School seminars he once attended. He was comfortable with his own intellect, advisers said, and invited dissent in morning everyone-in-the-room-gets-to-speak policy sessions.

There were also political calculations in the selections.

In choosing Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, for example, Obama brought inside his chief political rival, keeping potentially damaging criticism and buyer's remorse from the Democratic base to a minimum.

Obama did something similar in picking Joe Biden, another primary rival, as his running mate. Biden brought to the White House a warm populism not often seen in the former constitutional law lecturer in the Oval Office.

And then there was Gates, who presented Obama with a risk-reward decision full of political implications.

Gates was an esteemed Republican at a time when Obama and his senior advisers were looking to give the new administration a bipartisan cast in line with his presidential campaign's bridge-building pledges.

He had vast experience running the government's largest and most politically complex national security institutions, including the CIA and the Pentagon.

And, as Obama has noted, he and Gates seemed to think through problems in much the same way. Gates acknowledges as much in his book, praising Obama, and by proxy himself, as "very thoughtful and analytical, but he is also quite decisive."

"I think," Gates added, "we have a similar approach to dealing with national security issues."

But some of those same attributes also made Gates a question mark for Obama's core political supporters, who were looking for a clean break from the Bush administration's war policies and anyone identified with them. It was a risk Obama was willing to take, as he undertook a comprehensive review and revamping of the way the country would fight and leave the war in Afghanistan.

A White House statement responding to the book said Obama "welcomes differences of view among his national security team."

But he has already turned away from the "team of rivals" approach. No longer a new president short on executive experience, Obama now prefers like-minded loyalists capable of pushing in the direction he has decided to go.

Take his war cabinet. In his second term, Obama selected former senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., colleague to head the Pentagon and former senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass., to replace Clinton at the State Department.

Both men served with Obama — and with Biden — on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and both share with Obama, far more profoundly than Gates or Clinton ever did, a sense that the United States must play a more modest role abroad at a time of economic uncertainty at home.

There is another former member of Obama's "team of rivals" with some decisions ahead on how to talk about her former employer: Clinton.

As she ponders a 2016 presidential run, the former top diplomat, whom Gates describes as "ideological but pragmatic," will be asked to talk about administration policies and decision-making during her tenure. The temptation to distance herself from the less successful ones, whether concerning the Arab Spring, Afghanistan or Israel, will be great.

Clinton, whom Obama has celebrated as one of the nation's best secretaries of state, will soon have her first big opportunity to speak out: Her memoir is scheduled for release in June.

bc-saudi-iraq-repeating 01-09 882 (bbg) (ATTN: Foreign editors) Repeating to correct category cde //Iraq is new schism for Saudis in strained alliance with West// By Glen Carey (c) 2014, Bloomberg News.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Few goods transit the desert border between the Middle East's two biggest oil producers, and Saudi authorities have built a fence to help ensure that political instability in Iraq doesn't cross over either.

Dysfunctional ties between the countries have come into focus as a wave of violence sweeps Iraq, turning it into another arena where Saudi interests are diverging from those of the United States. Fighting is centered in Anbar province, bordering Saudi Arabia, where Sunni fighters with ties to al-Qaida are rebelling against the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki, which is supported by Iran.

The Saudi view is that Maliki is "aggravating the feelings of marginalization that some Iraqi Sunnis have long complained about, and that are at the root of the current violence," said Fahad Nazer, a political analyst at Vienna, Va.-based intelligence analyst JTG, and a former analyst for the Saudi embassy in Washington.

By contrast, the U.S. has offered to help Maliki, and so has Iran, Saudi Arabia's main regional rival. That shows how far the Saudi-American alliance has drifted since the early days of the Syrian civil war, when a similar sectarian divide saw the Saudis and U.S. on one side and Iran on the other.

While there's no indication that the Sunni fighters in Anbar, led by the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, are getting Saudi support, the wider Sunni community in Iraq is looking to Riyadh for assistance. Tariq Hashemi, Iraq's Sunni former vice president, last month called on Saudi Arabia for help.

Iraq's Sunnis "face two main problems," he said in interview with Al Jazeera. "We lack a unifying project and a country that supports our cause."

Saudi-Iraq ties have been strained since the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led three years later to the election of Maliki's government, the first led by Shiites to rule Iraq.

Saudi Arabia has no embassy in Baghdad, and there's little commercial contact. In 2012, Iraq traded more with Thailand than it did with the kingdom to its south, even though Saudi Arabia is the Arab world's largest economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The border between the countries is closed except during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, according to Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior.

In November, Saudi authorities said six mortar shells landed in an uninhabited desert area of the kingdom near the Iraq border. An Iraqi Shiite group claimed responsibility.

"The Saudis had serious reservations about the U.S. invasion, fearing that Saddam's removal would create a power vacuum that would be filled by Iran," Nazer said. "In the eyes of many, those fears were not unwarranted."

That sentiment has been echoed by Saudi officials. In October, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of the kingdom's intelligence department, said that Iran's "meddling" was the "cause of the daily killings and suffering that the Iraqi people are enduring."

The violence has increased this month as ISIL and other Sunni fighters took over Fallujah and nearby towns in Anbar. Maliki this week called on local tribes to unite against the "terrorists" and drive them out.

Iraq's instability brings sectarian conflict closer to the oilfields of the Persian Gulf, a region that holds almost half the world's reserves. It raises concerns of another civil war in Iraq, OPEC's second-biggest producer, reviving the Sunni-Shiite conflict that followed the U.S. invasion.

"Energy infrastructure thus far has been largely shielded from the recent surge in violence, but the risks to the oil sector are rising," Barclays wrote on Jan. 6.

Iraqi output increased by 100,000 barrels a day to 3.2 million barrels last month, the most since August, according to a Bloomberg survey. It pumped more crude by increasing links to wells in its predominately Shiite south.

Gunmen blew up a pipeline near the Kirkuk oil field, state- run North Oil Co. said in emailed statement Thursday. Production and exports from field weren't affected, it said. In Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed six in a strike on an army recruitment center, Al Arabiya said, citing Iraqi police.

Meanwhile, the violence in the largely Sunni west of Iraq is being fanned by the war in neighboring Syria. Saudi leaders have signaled they are growing impatient with the Western-backed rebels there, and may shift support to more Islamist groups fighting to oust Bashar Assad.

Iraq officials have said they're suspicious of the kingdom's intent.

Maliki said in November that Saudi Arabia was the only country in the Middle East that "has chosen" not to be a friend of Iraq. He said in an interview with Al Arabiya the same month the U.S. was mediating to repair ties between the two countries.

Sunni tribes in Anbar once worked with U.S. forces against al-Qaida, and the Iraqi government says many support its fight against ISIL. Some of the tribes, though, have ties with Saudi Arabia and little confidence in the Shiites now ruling in Baghdad.

"As much as the tribal leaders hate al-Qaida, they don't trust Maliki either," said Crispin Hawes, managing director of the research firm Teneo Intelligence in London. "Maliki fundamentally doesn't believe that the Sunni population is ever going to be on his side, and he doesn't want them to be."

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