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Navy SEAL cleared by Trump called 'freaking evil' by comrades

Navy SEAL cleared by Trump called 'freaking evil' by comradesA Navy SEAL platoon leader controversially pardoned of war crimes by US President Donald Trump was described as “toxic” and “freaking evil” by veterans who served with him in Iraq, The New York Times reported Friday. Video testimony provided to war crimes investigators and published by the newspaper showed former members of Eddie Gallagher’s elite commando unit accusing him of shooting at a 12-year-old and discussing the accusations that Gallagher targeted civilians. “The guy is freaking evil,” special operator first class Craig Miller, one of the most experienced members of Alpha Platoon’s SEAL Team 7, told the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).



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Five Sentenced to Death in Khashoggi Murder, Royal Aides Cleared

Five Sentenced to Death in Khashoggi Murder, Royal Aides Cleared(Bloomberg) — A Saudi court sentenced five people to death for the murder of government critic Jamal Khashoggi but ruled that last year’s assassination wasn’t premeditated and said it didn’t have enough evidence to incriminate two top officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.The verdict, read out by the public prosecutor on Monday in Riyadh, is unlikely to mute criticism in the U.S. against the kingdom and Prince Mohammed for the murder of the Washington Post columnist by government agents in Istanbul.While Prince Mohammed has repeatedly denied sanctioning the killing, U.S. lawmakers and CIA analysts concluded it couldn’t have taken place without his knowledge. The accusations focused on two of his key aides, royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and top intelligence official Ahmed Alassiri.But Deputy Attorney General Shalaan Shalaan said authorities questioned Qahtani, who was removed from his position by King Salman and sanctioned by the U.S. after the killing, and didn’t find enough evidence against him. Alassiri, a top intelligence official also removed from his position, was found not guilty by the court.The sentencing probably won’t “turn off the fires that started after the Khashoggi issue in the U.S. Congress,” said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa research at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.‘Difficult to Imagine’“There seems to be an effort not to implicate the most significant or senior officials who were once close to the crown prince,” said Kamel. “The viewpoint in the U.S. and in Europe is that it’s difficult to imagine that a decision of this magnitude would’ve been carried out by junior officials without directive from their seniors.”Three out of 11 who stood trial for the murder at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul were given a total of 24-year prison terms. The court found three others not guilty. It didn’t identify any of those who were convicted.Khashoggi’s killing drew global condemnation, bruising the reputation of Prince Mohammed as a reformer of Saudi Arabia and prompting bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Congress to limit arms sales to the kingdom. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called him a “wrecking ball” and “toxic” figure.President Donald Trump has repeatedly defended the prince and shielded the kingdom against any major retaliation by lawmakers.A senior Trump administration official called the court proceedings an important step in holding accountable those responsible for the killing. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, encouraged the Saudis to continue with a fair and transparent judicial process.Prince Mohammed has denounced the murder and in a September interview for CBS’s “60 Minutes” said he took “full responsibility” for it. Asked how he could have been unaware of the operation, he said he can’t know “what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily.”UN ReportThe finding that Khashoggi’s murder on Oct. 2, 2018, was not premeditated also contradicts conclusions by Turkish authorities and Western intelligence services.A report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard found that Saudi agents were recorded discussing how to dismember Khashoggi’s body several minutes before he had entered the consulate, referring to him as a “sacrificial lamb.”Callamard has recommended further investigation into Prince Mohammed and al-Qahtani over Khashoggi’s murder and has called the murder a “state killing” that should prompt world leaders to reconsider having the Group of 20 summit in Riyadh next November.Salah Khashoggi, Jamal’s son, said on twitter after the announcement that justice had been served in a timely fashion.“Today the judiciary gave us our right as children of the departed,” he wrote. “We affirm our trust in the Saudi judicial system at all levels.”Turkey’s Foreign Ministry criticized the verdict on Monday, saying it failed to shed light on who ordered the murder.A prominent Saudi journalist and government insider, Khashoggi never considered himself a dissident. But in 2017, as a crackdown on domestic dissent under Prince Mohammed intensified, Khashoggi fled, fearing he could be detained. He settled in the U.S., penning a series of critical columns for the Washington Post.The 59-year-old went to the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork for his marriage. He was killed by a team of government agents that lay in wait for him. His body was never recovered.Saudi officials initially said Khashoggi had left the Istanbul consulate on his own, then claimed he died in an interrogation gone awry. A stream of leaks from Turkish intelligence officials repeatedly undermined the Saudi attempts to explain away the death.The trial began in January, according to local media. Nine sessions were held before Monday’s sentencing, according to Shalaan. Representatives of the Turkish government, Saudi human rights groups and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council were allowed to attend, but the media had been banned from covering the trial.(Updates with Trump administration comment in 10th paragraph.)\–With assistance from Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Riyadh at dabunasr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at lnoueihed@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum, Gregory MottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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High school cheerleader cleared of murdering her baby to maintain ‘perfect life’

High school cheerleader cleared of murdering her baby to maintain ‘perfect life’A woman who gave birth as a teenager and buried her newborn child in a garden has been acquitted of murder.Brooke Skylar Richardson was found not guilty on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment by a jury on Thursday.



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Woman cleared of murder after 35 years in prison gets $3M

Woman cleared of murder after 35 years in prison gets $  3MA woman who spent 35 years in prison for a Nevada murder she didn't commit before she was exonerated by DNA evidence on a crime-scene cigarette butt will get $ 3 million in a partial settlement of a federal civil rights lawsuit, her lawyer said Wednesday. Cathy Woods, 68, will continue to seek additional damages from the city of Reno and former detectives she accuses of coercing a fabricated confession from her while she was a patient at a Louisiana mental hospital in 1979, according to her lawyer, Elizabeth Wang. Woods was released from prison in 2015 when new evidence linked the 1976 killing of a Reno college student to an Oregon inmate, Rodney Halbower, who has since has been convicted of two San Francisco Bay Area slayings that happened during the same period.



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Rape victim facing 40 years in prison after suffering stillbirth is cleared by court

Rape victim facing 40 years in prison after suffering stillbirth is cleared by courtA rape victim who faced up to 40 years in prison after she suffered a stillbirth has been cleared at retrial.Evelyn Hernández was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide by a court in El Salvador in July 2017. She was prosecuted under the Central American country's strict abortion laws.



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Israelis cleared of rape to sue British accuser in Cyprus

Israelis cleared of rape to sue British accuser in CyprusIsraeli tourists released from custody in Cyprus after having been cleared of gang rape charges plan to sue the British woman who accused them, their lawyer said Monday. Twelve Israeli youths were arrested on July 12 after a 19-year-old British tourist said she was raped in a hotel in the resort town of Ayia Napa, in southeast Cyprus. Five of the accused were released last Thursday and the other seven on Sunday, as a police source said the Briton was “facing charges of giving a false statement over an imaginary offence”.



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Woman whose dead babies were found in home cleared of murder

Woman whose dead babies were found in home cleared of murderA Massachusetts woman who lived in a squalid, vermin-infested home where authorities found the remains of three babies was cleared Thursday of second-degree murder, but was convicted of lesser charges. Judge Janet Kenton-Walker said prosecutors did not prove that 35-year-old Erika Murray caused the death of one of the babies whom she had been charged with killing and hiding in her home filled with rodents, dead animals, dirty diapers and trash. Kenton-Walker called the case "senseless" and "tragic," but said she had to be guided by the evidence rather than her emotions.



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Trump office cleared 25 officials originally disqualified over security fears, whistleblower claims

Trump office cleared 25 officials originally disqualified over security fears, whistleblower claimsA White House whistleblower has claimed that at least 25 officials originally denied security clearance later had their rejections overturned during Donald Trump’s presidency.  Tricia Newbold, a White House security adviser who has worked for the executive office of the president for 18 years, made the allegation during an interview with a congressional committee.  She said the reasons why the 25 officials had been initially rejected included foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminality.  Explaining her decision to come forward, Ms Newbold said: “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.” Two of those people whose rejections were overturned are “senior White House officials” who remain in their jobs to this day, according to Ms Newbold.  Changes to the security clearance system have been adopted since Donald Trump, the US president, took office in January 2017 Credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg None of the 25 officials were named publicly by Ms Newbold, who gave evidence to the House Oversight and Reform Committee over the weekend. A summary of her comments was circulated to members on the committee on Monday.  Figures on the committee, which is controlled by the Democrats, have said previously they are scrutinising how Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, gained their security clearance. They have denied any wrongdoing.  The White House carries out checks before granting people security clearance to make sure they are not compromised in any way or could cause the president embarrassment.  The system helps ensure that figures who gain access to sensitive classified material are not exposed to potential blackmail from foreign adversaries.  The US president has the power to overturn any initial rejection, as do senior staff in the vetting process.  Ms Newbold said she decided to give evidence because she feared her repeated warnings about how the clearance system was working under Mr Trump were not being heeded.  “I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office,” Ms Newbold said, according to the summary of her comments.  Donald Trump, the US president, in the Oval Office Credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP During her testimony, Ms Newbold, who has worked in Republican and Democrat administrations, outlined three real but anonymised examples of White House officials whose cases she has concerns about.  The first, a “senior White House official”, had their security clearance initially denied because of fears over foreign influence, business links and personal conduct. The decision was overruled by a more senior official who allegedly failed to address all the disqualifying concerns.  The second, also a “senior White House official”, was going to be rejected for a security clearance by Ms Newbold, who outlined a 14-page summary describing “multiple disqualifiers” including foreign influence. She was allegedly told “do not touch” the case. It was later approved.  The third, a “high-profile official” at the White House’s National Security Council, was denied the clearance by Ms Newbold. She says she was then urged to change her recommendation by a colleague. She refused and the denial was sustained. The official is no longer in the White House.  As well as the examples, Ms Newbold detailed a list of other concerns about how the clearance system has changed under the Trump presidency and how she was treated when raising red flags.  Ms Newbold said that the system of automatic credit checks, which helps ensure proposed employees are not susceptible to blackmail, has been stopped.  A row of US flags for the "Celebration of America" at the White House in June 2018 Credit:  AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI  She said a senior colleague defended the change by arguing that the FBI does credit checks as part of its screening. But she noted that only applied to totally new White House employees and not those coming from other government agencies.  Ms Newbold also expressed fears that interim clearances – which allow an official to temporarily get access to classified material while waiting for full approval – were being used too much.  She “expressed concern about the amount and sensitivity of classified information that was provided to officials who operated for extended periods of time with interim clearances,” according to the summary circulated to the committee.  Ms Newbold raised concerns about the security of personnel files and the lack of staff to meet demand, saying she has “never seen our office so ill-staffed and with such lack of experience”.  She also expressed frustration with how her complaints were handled, noting she had recently been suspended for 14 days without pay for not following a new policy about scanning certain documents in separate pdf files rather than a single pdf file.  Ms Newbold accepted that Mr Trump had the power to overturn rejections of security clearance but questioned whether the right process was being followed.  “[If] the President wants to override us, he can, but that doesn’t mean at any time that we should alter the way we do business based on what someone may have come out with in the end,” she said.  The White House has not yet commented.



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Protests held in Pittsburgh after cop cleared in shooting

Protests held in Pittsburgh after cop cleared in shootingPITTSBURGH (AP) — The father of a slain black teenager pleaded for peace Saturday after the acquittal of a white police officer triggered an apparent retaliatory shooting at the defense attorney's office and touched off protests in the streets of Pittsburgh.



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The Latest: Protesters burn flags after officer cleared

The Latest: Protesters burn flags after officer clearedMONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on reaction following decision that clears officer in Alabama mall shooting (all times local):



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