Saturday, March 4, 2017

In pictures: Navy women in the world wars - Britannia

Despatch riders, who worked in all weathers delivering messages and parcels to s
Women's Royal Naval Service despatch riders, who worked in all weathers delivering messages and parcels to ships and naval establishments. They were also responsible for the maintenance of their motorbikes. (National Museum of the Royal Navy)

Here, we take a look back at the trailblazing work of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) during the First and Second World Wars, in pictures…

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

When the First World War began in 1914, women worked as nurses, VADs and in munitions facilities as they were barred from military service. However, years of fighting prompted a change – by 1917 the navy desperately needed more sailors at sea.

The Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) was created, allowing women to work in shore-based roles, releasing more men to work on ships. Its workers quickly became known as 'Wrens'. Here, two Wrens can be seen cleaning depth charges during the First World War.


(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

These Wrens helped to feed the 6,000 sailors at Chatham during the First World War. Women filled a variety of posts previously held by men. They worked as cooks, waitresses, clerks, laundresses, telephonists, wireless operators, motor drivers and other technical experts in order to ‘free a man for the fleet’.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

WRNS personnel at Lowestoft in 1918, taking part in physical training by club swinging. The WRNS uniform included a heavy serge dress, black woollen stockings, a thick overcoat and a hat, which they had to wear in all weather. Many Wrens complained about the uniform and some even ended up in the sick bay getting treatment for rough and inflamed necks, where the hard serge material had chafed their skin.

"I shall never forget struggling home from the barracks with the rough serge coatfrock, very heavy greatcoat, heavy boots and shoes, woollen ribbed stockings and so on," recalled one Wren.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

In 1919, the WRNS were demobbed after just 20 months of service. When the war was over, the WRNS campaigned for a permanent service but their repeated attempts were dismissed.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

In 1939, under the threat of war, the Admiralty reformed the Women's Royal Naval Service. At its peak in 1944, around 74,000 women were serving in the WRNS in a huge variety of roles. Here, a group of Wrens are seen accompanied by a sentry with a rifle.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

This photo shows Wrens passing messages by signal lamps during the Second World War. At the beginning of the Second World War, the roles initially available to women workers were similar to those in the First World War. However, the range of tasks quickly widened and women had the opportunity to become radio and air mechanics, torpedo-women and boat's crew.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

Four WRNS cooks and stewards asleep in their bunks onboard ship in September 1944. Many Wrens were engaged in top secret operations during the Second World War. Some Wrens were among the many women at Bletchley Park who worked on breaking German codes and those involved in the development of plans for D-Day. Others provided vital support keeping the fleet fed, maintaining equipment and supplies or in a variety of administrative roles.

(National Museum of the Royal Navy)

On 1 February 1949, the Women’s Royal Naval Service became a regular force, giving women the chance to pursue a long-term career in the WRNS for the first time. This picture shows a group of WRNS officers in Malta in 1961. 

Pioneers to Professionals: Women and the Royal Navy is on now, at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 

APNewsBreak: West Point cadets face courts-martial for drugs

Two West Point cadets face courts-martial on charges of distributing cocaine and other drugs and another senior faces similar charges amid a months-long investigation, the U.S. Military Academy said Wednesday.

West Point first announced in November that six cadets faced charges that they conspired to distribute drugs.

Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen on Feb. 14 referred two cadets to a general courts-martial. Christopher Monge of Coplay, Pennsylvania, and Tevin Long of Richmond, Texas, are on administrative leave and face arraignment before a military judge, according to the academy.

No trial date has been set.

The other four cadets on administrative leave are awaiting a decision from the superintendent on further proceedings, which could include courts-martial or administrative action.

The cadets are accused of driving to nearby Newburgh, New York, as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey to purchase drugs and then bringing them to West Point in 2015 and 2016. The charges involve the wrongful distribution, introduction and use of cocaine, oxycodone, oxymorphone and alprazolam, according to charging documents.

New charges were bought Tuesday against Ammon Tuimaunei, with five violations related to the possession and distribution of cocaine and oxycodone and two violations related to conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone.

Tuimaunei is currently an active cadet pending a hearing. West Point did not immediately provide a hometown for Tuimaunei.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to reach the three cadets by phone for comment.

Friday, March 3, 2017

USS BENNINGTON (PG4) - San Diego Reader 1999

Qn July 21,1905, the USS. Bennington, a patrol gunboat, anchored in San Diego harbor. The "trim, white, buff," 230-foot vessel had a crew of 197 officers and men. During the Spanish-American War of1898, the Bennington patrolled the coastal waters of the Philippines, "showing the U.S. flag" and suppressing an insurrection.

The 12-year-old ship's boilers once produced 17 knots. Now they labored to make 12. Scuttle said its next duty, escorting the broken-down Wyoming to Port Hartford, could be its last.

Under an overcast sky, at 10:30 a.m. two dull explosions—a "rumble like distant thunder" — echoed across San Diego Bay. Steam erupted through the Bennington s deck amidships. Men splayed about, "tossed by the detonation." The steam "parboiled" Ensign Newman Perry, "his uniform blasted off his body."

Boatswains mate Lee Strogel: "Still conscious, I realized that I was being carried toward the forward hatch, perhaps 50 feet from where Gauthier and I had been talking." Charles Gary Wheeler: "I could not imagine what had happened.... Immediately the quarters were filled with scalding steam. It grew dark, too, because the steam was so thick."

After the explosion, as bluejackets screamed and scrambled about, Rade Grbitch ran down the forward hatch, shouting, "This way out!" — an act that saved many lives.

Hospital steward William S. Shackiette, having sustained a violent blow on the head, came to in scalding water. "Although almost fatally burned, he resumed assistance to his shipmates and, at the hospital, refused treatment until all others, some much less injured, had been cared for by physicians."

The Coronado ferry Ramona and the Spreckels tug Santa Fe pulled survivors from the bay. The Santa Fe then pushed the Bennington into a mudbank to prevent it from sinking.

More havoc. Flames "licked at the door of a magazine that contained several tons of ammunition." Several bluejackets secured all watertight doors. John Clausey, "with great risk to his life," ran through scalding water and over dead bodies to open the valves and flood the magazine.

At 11:00 a.m., steam still spewed, and a thick green slime covered the decks. At this time, the captain of the Bennington, Commander Lucien Young, came on board: his whereabouts to that point a mystery.

The explosion injured at least 50 sailors and filled 64 flag-draped coffins, most of which received burial at Fort Rosecrans. The Bennington explosion was a "disaster unprecedented in the peacetime Navy." For years afterward the question remained: What happened?

Until 1899, midshipmen at the Naval Academy trained to become either engineers or officers. A caste system evolved, the officers looking down on the engineers. The Personnel Bill of March 3, 1899, combined the two: "Henceforth all cadets at Annapolis had to receive both engineering and deck training." Officers already in the fleet "had their ranks merged and became liable to serve in either engineering or deck divisions aboard ship."

The move promised more well-rounded seamen, but to many it made no sense. Unqualified officers became responsible for the "complex yet delicate machinery of steam driven, coal-fired warships."

Charles T. Wade, chief engineer of the Bennington, was a young ensign three years out of Annapolis. He had no training as an engineer— didn't have a warrant machinist to help his duties — and may not have detected the trouble with Boiler B.

Some said the boiler had a small leak, which caused the explosion. Others said the safety and sentinel valves were rusted. Others estimated that "not more than $50 worth of repairs had been done on the boilers in the previous five years."

A correspondent from the Chicago Record-Herald: "The Bennington was obsolete. The Navy wanted to get rid of it but waited too long. The fault lay in the Navy department. It was the fault of policy, not of any one man."

The Navy blamed Wade — whom it wanted to "make an example" — and Commander Young.

In the court of inquiry, Wade came off as "ignorant or careless or both." The engineering logs lacked data. Wade's response: "I always had trouble getting the machinist to log the repairs." Though they were "old," Wade continued, no one considered the boilers "in the least dangerous." They received "very, very careful attention."

During the long inquiry the Scientific American criticized the Navy's new system, noting a "need for engineering specialists." The Nation went further: "Costly errors by unqualified personnel laid up a number of ships with machinery malfunctions.... In 1897 the Bennington went to sea with two engineers with a total of over 30 years of experience. In 1905, the gunboat had only Ensign Wade."

Several witnesses for the prosecution experienced what came to be known as "Bennington amnesia," omitting key evidence that discredited the Navy.

W.H. Allerdice, Naval engineer, testified that the life of a Bennington-type boiler spanned about nine years. "The boilers should have been removed."

After a long court-martial, the often-decorated Commander Young received a letter of reprimand and eventually rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.

"By 1975, Navy policy had changed to include 'restricted' line officers, men who would specialize in but one field, engineering among them."

Declared not guilty, Wade returned to active duty. He reached lieutenant commander in 1911 and retired in 1913. During WWI, he taught at the Naval Academy. "Holder of the Spanish Campaign Medal, the Philippine Campaign Medal, the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal, Wade struggled all his life to be rid of the Bennington onus...[he] proved unsuccessful in this battle. Wade died on July 14,1942, still known then and even today as 'that ensign on the Bennington.'"

Grass Roots Remembrance is Key - 314th Infantry - WWI

Grass Roots Remembrance is Key

As was recently estimated by Mark Levitch, creator of the World War 1 Memorial Inventory Project, there may be as many as 10,000 WW1 monuments in various forms throughout the United States. There was not a single national memorial to the war dedicated in their lifetime, yet America’s Doughboy generation did leave their mark on our landscape; the memorials they left behind were often small, local reminders of their service and sacrifice in “The World War” and perhaps that is how they wanted it. As author Richard Rubin described in his book THE LAST OF THE DOUGHBOYS, America’s World War I veterans were “self-reliant, humble and stoic; never complaining, still marveling at the immensity of the war they helped win” and this perspective may be a key to understanding the predominantly local and often low-key character of American monuments to “The War to End All Wars.”


For the past several years it has been my privilege to be able to attend a long-standing WW1 memorial service in southeast Pennsylvania. Each Memorial Day Weekend, the Descendants and Friends of the 314th Infantry, AEF, gather at Valley Forge’s Washington Memorial Chapel to remember the achievements and sacrifices of this regiment of the 79th Infantry Division in World War I. Essentially a local event (the men of the 314th were predominantly from southeast Pennsylvania and Delaware), the 314th Infantry Memorial Service, like many of our WW1 monuments, is both simple and poignant, and in many ways it retains the spirit of America’s WW1 generation.

The 314th Infantry Memorial Cabin as it stood on the grounds of the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge.

The 314th Infantry Memorial Cabin as it stood on the grounds of the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge.

The site of the 314th Memorial Service was not chosen at random – for some 90 years, the Chapel grounds contained the 314th Infantry Cabin, a log structure which had originally been built at Camp Meade, Maryland in 1917 by the men of the regiment. After the war the cabin was purchased by the veterans, dismantled and reassembled at Valley Forge. Over the generations, the cabin served as the repository for the memorabilia, war trophies, and Doughboy memories of the 314thInfantry, the responsibility for which was handed down through the children and grandchildren of the 314th’s WW1 veterans. Today, the historic cabin awaits reassembly at Fort Meade in time for the post’s World War 1 centennial observances, although the descendants and friends of the 314thcontinue to gather each year in Valley Forge to remember. As Nancy Schaff, President of the 314thInfantry Descendants and Friends, observed in her welcoming remarks at the start of the service, the 2015 gathering was the 93rd annual service in honor of the 314th.

The 2015 service was presided over by the Reverend Roy Almquist, Rector of the Washington Memorial Chapel. Following the presentation of Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem, Rev. Almquist offered prayers of remembrance for the men of the regiment before calling on 314th Descendants & Friends President Nancy Schaff , who welcomed the nearly 100 attendees and gave a brief update on the status of the cabin, as well as her work with the US World War One Centennial Commission and other partnering organizations such as The Western Front Association East Coast Branch and Saving Hallowed Ground.

COL Douglas Mastriano, PhD, speaks at the 2015 Memorial Service to the 314th Infantry, AEF.

COL Douglas Mastriano, PhD, speaks at the 2015 Memorial Service to the 314th Infantry, AEF.

The principal speaker at the service was COL Douglas Mastriano, PhD, of the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. COL Mastriano is the author of Alvin York: a New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne and is also responsible for researching and creating a five-kilometer historic trail in France’s Argonne Forest which interprets York’s Medal of Honor exploits. In his remarks, COL Mastriano detailed Alvin York’s humble beginnings and early life struggles prior to World War I, comparing him with the Civil War’s Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who rose from obscurity to be the “Hero of Little Roundtop” on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Citing the modest beginnings of both men, COL Mastriano offered them as examples of what all Americans are capable of. In his remarks, he further described Corporal York’s role in capturing some 132 German prisoners on October 8, 1918, bringing home to the Valley Forge attendees a fresh look at the man within the context of America’s experience of World War I.

Following the conclusion of the service, attendees participated in the folding of a 20’X30’ United States’ Flag sponsored by the “Saving Hallowed Ground” project, before adjourning to the Patriot’s Hall for a light reception.

The flag folding activity outside the Washington Memorial Chapel, following the 314th Memorial Service.

The flag folding activity outside the Washington Memorial Chapel, following the 314th Memorial Service.

The remarkable cross-generational effort encompassing the 314th Infantry Memorial Service, the cabin and the artifact collection may be unique among WW1 memorial efforts in the United States. For nearly 100 years each Memorial Day Weekend, those with a connection to the Regiment have paused from their lives and gathered at Valley Forge to remember. Without a doubt the historic 314th cabin and its artifact collection have been the key to keeping the veterans and their descendants connected over the long span of time. As America’s WW1 centennial years approach, the prospect of the reappearance of the cabin as an historic structure at Fort George G. Meade seems particularly appropriate – in a sense, this structure which was preserved by motivated individuals acting on a local level will become an object of national celebration.

100 Years Ago: The Zimmermann Telegram Made Public

The notorious Zimmermann Telegram which contributed to America's entry into the Great War was revealed to the American public a century ago today, 1 March 1917. After the message was intercepted and decoded at the legendary Room 40, British naval intelligence chief "Blinker" Hall took it upon himself to leak the telegram to the Americans without reference to his own Foreign Office. The translated document is worth reading in its entirety.  Even after 100 years it seems breathtakingly provocative:

The disastrous decision to dispatch the telegram was taken by Foreign Secretary Zimmermann without reference to the German chancellor, the kaiser, or the German general staff. Zimmermann's action was typical of the dysfunctional German federation, which lacked a central policy-making body. 

Arthur Zimmermann

Moreover, the Foreign Ministry failed to investigate carefully the circumstances surrounding disclosure of the telegram. Zimmermann preferred to scapegoat German ambassador Heinrich von Bernstorff and the German embassy staff in Washington rather than admit to a rather obvious breakdown in cryptographic security. Thus, this leak was never sealed. Unlikely as it seems, Zimmermann, an experienced diplomat, and his staff were woefully ignorant of political forces at work in America, Mexico, and Japan. Thus, these abortive German efforts to get Japan (a British ally) and Mexico (then in the throes of a civil war) to attack the United States had no chance of success. 

In contrast,U.S. secretary of state Robert Lansing effectively covered up the true provenance of the Zimmermann decryption. Like Wilson's diplomatic confidant and emissary Colonel House, he favored American entry into WWI on the side of Great Britain and saw Zimmermann's rash and ill-informed gambit as decisive in this regard. With the ongoing crisis over Germany's policy of unrestricted U-boat warfare and the mid-month abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and his replacement by the Provisional Government in Russia, the release of the Zimmermann Telegram gave President Wilson could counter almost all the domestic elements still objecting to America joining the war.  Before the month was out, he would call Congress into special session to request a declaration of war.

Source: The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy and America's Entry into World War I by Thomas Boghardt

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Kentucky and the Great War Reviewed by Dr. Margaret Spratt

Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front

by David J. Bettez

University Press of Kentucky, 2016

The first generation of social historians taught us that there is a great deal more to the past than biographies of "great men" and generalizations about the grand sweep of history. They showed us that to understand the lives of the ordinary, one must dig through the flotsam of lives lived. Although I am not sure if Dr. Bettez would describe himself as a social historian, he has produced with Kentucky and the Great War, history from the bottom up.
Alexander McClintock of Fayette County, Kentucky, Could Not Wait to Fight

 and Joined the Canadian Army.

This book looks at the politics, economic life, culture, and contributions of Kentuckians in the war by researching newspapers, country records, university records, and private papers located throughout the state. Kentucky and the Great War takes us on a journey from the early rumblings of war in Europe to the memorials to the fallen. We see how war affects the mining and agricultural interests in the commonwealth, as well as the community efforts to support the Red Cross in small towns from the mountains in the east to the Mississippi River in the west. The successes and failures of the Kentucky Council of Defense and war activities on college campuses both earn entire chapters. Perhaps most fascinating is the process that the citizenry underwent to become a united front. That process required the rooting out of sedition and the hunting down of "slackers." In a case involving the owner of a shoe shop in Covington (a town with a German heritage across the Ohio River from Cincinnati), the charges relied heavily on conversations recorded by a dictograph in a grandfather clock. For African Americans, the question of loyalty was double-edged—were the goals of America and of racial solidarity the same? Bettez found that  African Americans in Kentucky ultimately did their part by contributing to the Red Cross and Liberty Loans, conserving food, and enlisting. Louisville's leading African American citizen, Roscoe Conkling Simmons, reassured his community when he spoke at a rally: "There is for me and my people but one country and one flag, the flag that set me free." Yet not everyone agreed. One minister told his congregation that this was a "white man's war" and that "they have 'Jim -Crowed' us and otherwise mistreated us and now when trouble comes they want us to fight for them" (pp. 182–183). However, Kentucky had one of the lowest rates of draft dodging in the country. Often a social history loses its overall relevance by getting lost in the details. It becomes vital to be grounded in context for a study to contribute to the larger narrative of history. Bettez has succeeded at this task, and yet those readers interested in Kentucky history are bound to be his most appreciative audience. Kentucky in the Great War details the workings of a population undergoing economic and social change. It shows us that history is not necessarily a straight line. It zigs and zags with setbacks and great achievements. Sometimes, it is difficult to see those larger trends because the details of the story are so overwhelming. The author shines in his effective use of evidence, and traverses the complexities of the story with ease. I predict that historians will use this study for years to come as the standard for a state history during the Great War.

Dr. Margaret Spratt

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Something Uniquely French: Marraines de Guerre

By Margaret H. Darrow

In the spring of 1915, the creation and promotion of marraines de guerre (war godmothers) transformed letter writing from personal support of loved ones into an act of patriotism. The scheme originated in the press and was carried on in its pages. Barrès in L'Echo de Paris touted the Soldier's Family, a charity founded by Mlle de Lens; L'Homme enchainé publicized a similar effort organized by Clemenceau's daughter, Mme Jaquemaire. Le Journal then started its own organization for the "adoption" of prisoners of war, while other papers and magazines opened their classified columns to ads from soldiers seeking marraines

The marraines de guerre were a peculiarly French creation without close parallels in Britain or Germany. The scheme drew from antecedents in Catholic women's charities that had "adopted" prison inmates and conscripts in order to convert them via correspondence. However, it was the German occupation of northern France that inspired and justified this wartime pen pal scheme. The name of Mme Jacquemaire's organization, the Charity of Combatants Without Family, revealed the thinking behind the plan. Women's main wartime mission was to support their men in combat and to provide them with comforts and services, but especially to remind them of, and personify for them, the France they were defending. Commentators depicted such support as crucial to a soldier's morale and, particularly, to his willingness to lay down his life. What, then, of the soldiers who had no women to sustain them in this way, soldiers without families, or soldiers whose families were sealed behind the battle lines in Occupied France? The themes of Catholic proselytizing and the German Occupation came together most explicitly in Barrès's promotion of marraines de guerre—letter writing was to be the Christian mission of French women to France's sons temporarily orphaned by German barbarism. 

An Idealized Marraine and Her Favorites

As the scheme left the hands of its originators and entered popular culture, its Catholic coloration faded, but the imagery of war orphans remained strong. Although in fact many soldiers who had families acquired marraines de guerre, the discourse of the scheme's promoters and apologists always depicted the soldier "godsons" as cut off from the home front and bereft of all ties to la patrie except through the devoted attention of their "godmothers." Without their support, according to Henriette de Vismes, the main eulogist of marraines during the war, soldiers without families could easily lose their courage and their will, with "fatal results." The marraine's letters were to ward off depression, le cafard, inspire her "godson" with patriotism and courage, applaud his victories, and, especially, reconcile him to the patriotic sacrifice of his life. Vismes cited the letter of a 19-year-old soldier from the occupied north of France to explain this aspect of the marraine's role: 

How I love my country...I seek to make myself useful as best I can and I constantly ask to be sent to the most dangerous spots, but I find I am often discouraged because if I am brave, no one will congratulate me and if I die, no one will be informed and once my home is liberated, my mother won't even know where I fell or if I did well

In both fictional and supposedly real letters, soldiers claimed that having a marraine de guerre gave them the courage to die bravely and the consolation that they would be mourned. In one of Duplessis de Pouzilhac's tales, correspondence with a gentle, patriotic marraine turned a former Montmartre apache [a violent street criminal] into a decorated war hero. Before entering his last battle he wrote to her, "Death will be sweet since I have found a little sister whose heart gave me a little affection." 

Susan Grayzel points out that some of the commentary and fiction imagined the relationship between marraine and filleul as an important transformative experience for women as well. This was the case in Jeanne Landre's novel, L'Ecole des marraines (1917) in which a bored society woman was restored to a proper feminine role by becoming a marraine to a heroic but doomed lieutenant. When he died in battle, her own patriotic sacrifice was accomplished. She became part of the heroic France by having "given" her man, thus experiencing the suffering necessary for France's triumph. 

Soldiers' Advertisements Seeking a Marraine

Marraines de guerre were not always female, as Visme reminded her readers. Civilian men, even convalescing soldiers, filled the role too, but in this one instance, contrary to all tradition, "the feminine outweighs the masculine." By imagining letter writing as feminine support for isolated soldiers, the marraine scheme helped reinforce wartime gender ideology. It drew upon the message of mobilization that had defined the battle front as masculine and physically separated from the feminine arrière. It also emphasized the important connection between them—the masculine combatant defended a feminine family, and that feminine family supported the war by supporting him. The marraine scheme took its premise from and helped elaborate the story of a feminine France for whom her sons fought and died. In Colette Yver's tale "La Marraine" (1915), a hospitalized soldier awaited a visit from his marraine de guerre who, though he had never seen her, had become "the image of France herself, the face of la was for her that he had fought and because of her support that he had been a hero." 

But if the feminine gendering of soldiers' pen pals could create a version of women's war service that was both familial and national, it also opened the imagination to romance and eroticism. Marraines de guerre were, after all, only pseudo-mothers and sisters; in actuality they were women writing to unknown men. Fiction writers leapt upon this new plot device and through it claimed the war as a terrain of romance. As Daniel Riche wrote in the introduction to his collection of short stories, L'Amour pendant la guerre (1917), "To support the sentimental preoccupations of men and women, God made marraines de guerre, war marriages, war flirtations." The marraine scheme created the paradoxical possibility of an intimate relationship between complete strangers. According to a story in the magazine Lectures pour tous, "[t]o all its merits, [the marraine de guerre scheme] adds this attraction; a certain romantic air, something unexpected and a little mysterious. Most of the fiction, plays and films about marraines de guerre played with the potential for mystery and deception - marraines who turned out to be long-lost mothers or estranged wives, or midinettes pretending to be mondaines, young women pretending to be elderly, elderly women pretending to be young, even men taking on female identities."

The salacious humor magazine, La Vie parisienne, printed hundreds of requests from soldiers seeking marraines de guerre. Many of the 216 ads published in the 6 January 1917 issue indeed evoked the themes developed by the promoters of the marraine scheme. The soldiers were "very bored," "melancholy," "neurasthenic;" some were wounded. (One specified "one wound, two citations.") They were also "very alone," "isolated from all civilized life," "without family," and some "from the invaded territory." They were seeking affection, tenderness and gaiety, but also "moral comfort," "spiritual support," someone to be their "ray of sunshine." However, most combined such pathetic touches with requests similar to modern "personal" ads—"serious young man seeks gay, affectionate correspondent." As today, the ads described the men in terms calculated to appeal to feminine preferences for youth, good looks and high status. In this case, the status was provided by rank (most described themselves as officers), by branch of military service (aviation was a distinct plus), and by their decorations. Citations and Croix de guerre littered the page. Many of the ads hinted at romantic and sexual adventure with references to "sensitive" hearts and promises of "unforgettable pleasures" and the utmost discretion. The magazine promoted the erotic connection between marraines and their pen pals in its cartoons, jokes, and short stories. In one such, Loulette was amazed when her visiting fllleul addressed her as "madame." How could he be so cold after the intimacy of their letters? "Oh, those letters...and those I received, that I opened slowly, so slowly to make the pleasure last!" Of course he quickly lost his formality (and his trousers) and the story ended in sighs, exclamation points and ellipses on Loulette's "delicious" divan. 

Promoters of the marraine scheme denied this narrative by insisting that the love that sustained the relationship was not romantic but familial or comradely. For example, in the 1917 play, "Marraines de Paris," a girl explained to her grandmother who objected to her writing to a strange man, "We don't love our 'godsons' like future husbands, first of all because many of them are married; they are our sons, our little brothers. We write to them a little like they were childhood friends who are in trouble. No harm in that." Vismes warded off the threat of sexuality with a series of portraits of typical marraines de guerre : a bereaved mother, a schoolgirl writing to a pretend big brother, a childless widow whose "poor little soldier" was the son she never had. There was not a lonely war widow or a romantic mademoiselle among them. Such narratives she consigned to "the cartoons, the theater and the cinema." 

What Some Thought It Was All About

The possibility of women corresponding with unknown men opened up two more potentially explosive themes, class and race. In many accounts, the marraines de guerre were educated, well-to-do Parisiennes, while their "godsons" were gawky country bumpkins making the "the first serious use of what they had studied in school so long ago." The central scene was the arrival of the soldier on leave at his marraine's drawing room, where he sat dumbstruck at the elegance of his surroundings and the graciousness of his hostess. In this scene, the erotic potential was swamped by the class gulf. The marraine's mission was to introduce her simple hero to the civilization he was fighting to protect. Off they went on a whirlwind tour of Notre Dame, Napoleon's tomb, and the Louvre, as she showed him "the beauty and grandeur of his country, of its History and of the Cause he defends." But the abiding lesson was class conciliation. The lady recognized the simple courage and good heart of the typical poilu, while the soldier learned to appreciate noblesse oblige: "This sweet and devoted woman who spoke to them in the name of the friendship she had for them" taught the soldiers "wisdom, reason, moderation" and docility. Postwar social harmony was assured. 

Viscountess Benoist d'Azy, Marraine of Fort Douaumont

Less central to the marraine plot, but still in evidence, was the issue of race. About 200,000 troops from France's colonies in West Africa served in France during the First World War, and some people worried about the disruptive potential of relations between them and French women. While soldiers worried about "their" women with black men, military authorities were more concerned that feminine contact would weaken what they idealized as the natural warrior spirit of African soldiers. The popular press flirted with the image of the midinette and her tirailleur africain boyfriend, but the marraine story largely ducked the potential for interracial romance. In a play by Hary Mitchell, a black poilu arrived at his marraine's house complete with a bouquet of flowers for the sprightly young lady who had been writing to him, only to find out that his marraine was actually a middle-aged man. All is well that ends well; the masquerading marraine treated his filleul to a patriotic speech and a meeting with the prime minister, and became his parraine (godfather) instead. Marcel Boulenger, in his acid satire on Parisian society women at war, used the possibility of a black filleul to explode elitist pretensions. His fashionable marraine copied Mme de Sévigné in order to give style to her little notes to her soldier, and relegated the job of finding appropriate treats to send him to her long-suffering servants. She imagined him as "one of the most distinguished young men." He turned out to be black. Boulenger presented race as a much more unbridgeable gulf than class, at least when gender was involved. Unlike the parraine in Mitchell's play, this marraine could have no civilizing mission toward the black soldier. His racial difference made him an illegitimate interloper in the great French family over which French womanhood presided. 

The press and commentators like Abensour and Bontoux praised French women for their philanthropic war service. By knitting hats, writing letters, collecting money, sending treats, and aiding war victims, French women were making an important contribution to the war effort. According to the many eulogists of women's patriotism, such charities softened the war's inevitable destruction while supporting its glory. They demonstrated to the world that French civilization, whether defined as nurturing self-sacrifice or gay sophistication, not only survived but flourished under the test of battle. Yet almost every commentator also criticized French women's charitable efforts as well. Some attacked a particular kind of charity as being frivolous and unnecessary. "Lady hospital visitors" were a favorite target of satire, because it was claimed that in return for a few oranges and chocolate bars they wanted effusive gratitude and stories of heroism. If this charity gave too little and expected too much, Jeanne Landre criticized the marraine scheme for the opposite reason. It gave too much, and indiscriminately. Soldiers collected marraines de guerre in order to accumulate goodies and wrote their own fake death announcements when they became bored. Landre also mocked what she considered the multiplication of trivial charities by creating fictional examples such as the BPSLF, the Bouton Pression Sur le Front, a charitable society formed to replace uniform buttons with metal snaps. These were venial faults, however. Some critics claimed that ill-considered charity was actually harmful. Frédéric Masson fulminated against canteens that handed out food and drink to wounded soldiers without regard for their medical conditions. Leon Abensour even argued that, given the unemployment of garment workers, well-to-do women should not knit for their soldier sons, but should buy knitted goods instead. 

Ad for a Secret Bracelet that a Good Godmother Should Send Her Godson

The most common accusation was that, although perhaps laudable in their aims, women took up war charity in the wrong spirit. Critics like Donnay and Boulenger claimed that too often women volunteered out of boredom or to be fashionable rather than as an act of patriotic self-abnegation. Mme Daudet dismissed war charities as motivated by "desire for the top spot, for status that you defend inch by inch like a little fortress marked with a Red Cross." Such women had no real devotion to the cause and no staying power when rival attractions appeared. According to their critics, the most telling evidence of this feminine légerté was that some of the notable woman who had founded important charities in Paris in August abandoned them to go to Bordeaux in September. According to Jane Michaux, "[N]ot that they have given up on their devotion, nor on precedence, no! But due to one of those sudden shifts of the winds of fashion, from one day to the next there are no interesting wounded, workshops or charity canteens except in Bordeaux." But of course this was no "sudden shift of the winds of fashion," it was a response to the government's panicky flight to Bordeaux in the face of the German invasion, and as the wives and daughters of cabinet members and prominent politicians, many important patronesses went too. 

On the one hand, the criticism represented a deflection upon these society women, always fair game, of anger and disappointment at the government for its cowardly behavior, criticism that neither the crisis of the moment (nor censorship, for that matter) was permitted to be directed at its true object. Georges Lechartier pontificated, "Duty, for governments, is sometimes subtle. We cannot, we must not immediately judge them. But for ourselves in our own consciences, duty is always clear, precise, irrefutable." 

But in fact, for the wives of government officials whom he was chastising, such duty was far from clear. Another reading of their behavior might have praised these women for dutifully accompanying their husbands to Bordeaux. The Weiss family exemplified the contradictory pulls upon feminine duty. Louise's father, Paul Weiss, was an official who moved to Bordeaux with the government. His wife, involved in hospital work in Paris, refused to go with him, so he ordered Louise to come to Bordeaux to be his housekeeper and hostess. Louise, who was also running a hospital at this point, closed her charity in order to obey. Which woman did her duty? The discourse of femininity as war service had no answer. What both praise and criticism refused to acknowledge was that the attempt to rework feminine domestic roles as war service was shot through with paradoxes. How could women truly devote themselves to the war when their first priorities always remained those of domesticity, of femininity? The spleen that women's war charities seemed to produce in their critics was an expression of vast unease with the whole project of feminine war service. Instead of supporting the masculine war effort, the critics suspected women's activities as competing with it or even undermining it. 

A Filleul on Display

Commentators saved their most sarcastic judgments for the marraine scheme, whose sentimental purpose, whether maternal or romantic, struck critics as particularly damaging. They claimed that it led to confidence tricks and even outright fraud, that the high-flown hogwash typical of marraines' letters disgusted soldiers rather than inspiring them, and even weakened their fighting spirit. But the most prevalent charge was that rather than trying to support masculine resolve in the war, marraines, like Michaux's charity ladies, were furthering their own, feminine interests. Women became marraines de guerre to relieve boredom by initiating a flirtation or to seek a husband. For society ladies, writing to "godsons" and displaying their letters was just another kind of social snobbery; among young women, it led to a weakening of morals to which postwar commentators would point to explain French decline. By opening the war to romance, the marraine scheme undermined its true purpose. 

Credits: Thanks to Professor Darrow of Dartmouth University for allowing us to publish this excerpt from her 2000 work, French Women and the First World War: War Stories of the Home Front, available at and other outlets.

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Governor Onaga warns Foreign Minister pushing through Henoko base will create trouble in the future

Governor Onaga warns Foreign Minister pushing through Henoko base will create trouble in the future

The meeting between Governor Takeshi Onaga (right) and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was held at 9:30 a.m. on February 26 at the prefectural office.

February 26, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with Governor Takeshi Onaga on the morning of February 26 at the prefectural government office.

The governor submitted to the foreign minister a request containing 10 items, including seeking relocation of the U.S. Futenma base out of the prefecture and closure of base operations, revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and a resolution of the Senkaku issue.

The governor criticized the government, saying, "It is regrettable that the two leaders reaffirmed at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held on February 10 that the relocation to Henoko is the only solution to avoid the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma."

He said, "If the governments of Japan and the United States adhere to the policy that Henoko is the only solution, it will lead to future trouble for Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements."

At the beginning of the meeting between the governor and the foreign minister, before the door was closed to reporters, Kishida did not refer to the Henoko relocation plan.

Kishida stressed the government's efforts to reduce the base burden on Okinawa. According to the foreign minister, the Japanese and U.S. governments have signed a supplementary agreement of the Japan-U.S. Status Agreement to clarify categories of U.S. military civilians, in response to the rape and murder of an Okinawan woman by the U.S. military civilian in April last year.

This was the third meeting between Governor Onaga and Foreign Minister Kishida since September 2016.

(English translation by T&CT)

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In third Kadena noise lawsuit, demand for flight injunction dismissed but 30.2 billion ordered in damages

In third Kadena noise lawsuit, demand for flight injunction dismissed but 30.2 billion ordered in damages

Attorneys for the plaintiffs conveying the ruling in the Kadena noise lawsuit on the morning of February 23 in front of the Okinawa branch of the Naha High Court in Okinawa City

February 24, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
In the third Kadena noise lawsuit, in which 22,048 residents living near U.S. Kadena Air Station demanded an injunction against nighttime and early morning flights by U.S. military aircraft and damages for past and future harm they have incurred, the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court (judge: Tetsuya Fujikura) ruled on February 23 to recognize that the explosive noise exceeds tolerable levels and order the national government to pay the plaintiffs a total of roughly 30.2 billion yen in damages. The amount of damages exceeds that ordered in any prior base-related noise lawsuit in Japan. However, regarding the demand for an injunction against flights, Judge Fujikura stated that "[this demand] is asking the defendant [the Japanese government] to halt an act being performed by a third party [the United States] over which it has no authority," and the court thus adopted the "third-party conduct theory", as in previous base-related noise lawsuits, to reject the demand. The plaintiffs expressed their intention to appeal the ruling.

The monthly amount of damages ordered was higher than in any past case. Plaintiffs experiencing a "W value" (Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level) of 75 or higher are to receive 7,000 yen per month, and for each increment of W5 until W90 or higher, plaintiffs will receive an additional 6,000 yen per month. Plaintiffs experiencing W95 or higher will receive 35,000 yen per month. The demand for payment of damages for harm to be incurred in the future was dismissed. Plaintiffs living north of Zamami, Yomitan Village, who were not compensated in the second Kadena noise lawsuit, were this time also recognized to be experiencing noise exceeding tolerable levels, and damages were ordered to be paid to them as well. However, damages were not ordered to be paid to plaintiffs living outside the noise distribution map (contour).

In the ruling, Judge Fujikura stated that in addition to obstruction of daily life and obstruction of sleep resulting from explosive noise, "there is also an increased risk of high blood pressure, an adverse effect on health," thereby recognizing some of the plaintiffs' assertions of health damage. The court did not recognize other health issues like hearing loss and an increased risk of ischemic heart disease on the grounds that evidence thereof is insufficient.

Though asserting that it is not "common damage" suffered by all the plaintiffs, the court did recognize the possibility that explosive noise could have a greater impact on children than adults, and that it could cause great distress to war survivors.

On the grounds that even after the explosive noise at Kadena was ruled unlawful in the first and second Kadena noise lawsuits, the Japanese and U.S. governments did not take fundamental damage prevention measures, the court stated, "we must assess that unlawful damage to surrounding residents is being carelessly left unaddressed." The third Kadena noise lawsuit was initiated in April 2011. The plaintiffs numbered four times those in the second lawsuit (roughly 5,500), making it the biggest base-related noise lawsuit in Japan's history.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

Main points of the ruling: • Demand for injunction against flights was rejected • Amount of monthly damages: o Areas experiencing W75 or higher: 7,000 yen o Areas experiencing W80 or higher: 13,000 yen o Areas experiencing W85 or higher: 19,000 yen o Areas experiencing W90 or higher: 25,000 yen o Areas experiencing W95 or higher: 35,000 yen • Demand for compensation for future damages was dismissed • Plaintiffs north of Zamami, Yomitan Village also experience damage exceeding tolerable levels • Explosion noises increase the risk of high blood pressure

• Unlawful damage is being left unaddressed

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1.5 trillion-yen benefit expected from return of Kadena

February 23, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 22, Professor Masaki Tomochi from the Department of Economics at Okinawa International University presented his trial calculations regarding the economic benefit to Okinawa if the U.S. military's Kadena Air Base is returned. According to his calculations, "a direct economic benefit" of approximately 1.46 trillion-yen a year will be generated by the site being redeveloped. His calculations are based on the equations used by the Okinawa prefecture for estimating the economic benefits from the base being returned for "(areas) south of Kadena." The "gross value added" after subtracting the expenses is approximately 822 billion-yen.

The prefecture made the calculations assuming that the resort, convention, and cultural industries would expand into "(areas) south of Kadena" after the base is returned. Professor Tomochi applied these equations to Kadena Air Base and multiplied that number by the price of land for the three municipalities in which the base is located.

The three municipalities have not come up with concrete plans for redeveloping the area where Kadena Air Base is currently located. Because of this, Okinawa City and Kadena Town have used 69.8 billion-yen per hectare for Camp Foster and Chatan has used 49.5 billion-yen per hectare for Camp Lester for their calculations. The values were provided by the prefecture. Kadena Air Base covers 1,985 hectares: 742.5 hectares from Okinawa City, 879 hectares from Kadena Town, and 363.5 hectares from Chatan. Multiplying the economic benefits per hectare, land price scale, and the three areas results in the economic benefit for each of the municipalities. Adding these numbers together gives the economic benefit from having Kadena Air Base returned. The benefits of redeveloping the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area, located in a forested area, were deemed limited. Therefore, it was not included in the calculations.

Professor Tomochi pointed out, "While our calculations show economic incentives for having the base returned, this was not our intention because in the end, the base issue is a peace and human rights issue." He also emphasized, "(We) would like the government to become the main body in calculating the economic loss incurred from the base and to lead discussions. Even for the bases that are not part of the Special Action Committee on Facilities and Areas in Okinawa (SACO) agreement, it is important to estimate numbers for them and to not assume from the start that they 'will not come back.'"

Up until now, Professor Tomochi has presented paper(s) on trial calculations including the military facilities within Okinawa and the Self-Defense Force bases as a part of "an examination of the Ryukyu (Okinawa) economy after all bases are removed and all subsidies were abolished."

According to his calculations, a direct economic benefit of 3,842,600,000,000-yen will result from all bases being removed. Of that, 2,952,600,000-yen is for bases that are not part of the return agreement, which is a part of the SACO.

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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US military ignores local residents’ objections to parachute drop training in Uruma

US military ignores local residents' objections to parachute drop training in Uruma

Over the sea near Tsuken Island at 11:52 a.m. on February 23 soldiers drop one-by-one from the MC-130 aircraft and parachute into the water. (Photograph courtesy of Yasuhide Matayoshi)

February 24, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 23 a little after 11:30 a.m., the U.S. Air Force conducted parachute drop training over the water at the Tsuken Island Training Area in Uruma City. The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) notified residents of Uruma City the day prior that there might be parachute training. Okinawans are protesting to have water training areas contained at Ie-jima, based in the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) final report. Despite repeated protests, local opinions are being ignored and municipal governments' opposition considered inevitable as training is enforced. In January, too, drop training was conducted over the water without notification.

At three separate intervals past 11:30 a.m. a U.S. Air Force Special Operations MC-130 aircraft dropped a total of 13 parachutes into the water. Twelve of the parachutes carried soldiers and the remaining one held a black bundle of items. After landing in the water the soldiers engaged in recovery operations for about 30 minutes and headed back White Beach on three ships.

Under the SACO agreement Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield parachute drop training was to be relocated to Ie-jima. Okinawa and Uruma residents have been appealing for such training to not be conducted apart from at Ie-jima. However, the Japanese government presents the perspective that only drop training on land is subject to the agreement, and allows drop training over the water. When training occurs relevant administrative bodies appeal to the Japanese government and U.S. military, but national and local perspectives do not align and the issue is not resolved.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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FOIA Releases Shed Light on al-Awlaki Role in Failed 2009 Bombing, Scott Pruitt’s Close Ties to Energy Industry, and Much More: FRINFORMSUM 2/23/2017

FOIA Releases Shed Light on al-Awlaki Role in Failed 2009 Bombing, Scott Pruitt's Close Ties to Energy Industry, and Much More: FRINFORMSUM 2/23/2017

February 23, 2017


FOIA Request Reveals Anwar al-Awlaki's Role in Failed 2009 Bombing

A federal judge's order that the FBI conduct a line-by-line review of documents on radicalized American imam Anwar al-Awlaki's role in an attempted 2009 airline bombing forced the agency to release hundreds of historically significant pages. The documents were initially requested by New York Times reporter Scott Shane, then working on a book about Awlaki – "the first American citizen deliberately killed on the order of a president, without criminal charges or trial, since the Civil War." The FBI refused to release them, at which point the paper sued. Two years later, the agency was forced to release the records – FBI interviews with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an al Qaeda operative convicted of attempting to blow up a flight to Detroit on December 25, 2009.

The interviews are significant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they "suggest that the Obama administration had ample firsthand testimony from Mr. Abdulmutallab that the cleric oversaw his training and conceived the plot." The documents also bolster arguments by experienced interrogators that torture is not useful or necessary to extract important information from suspects; the detailed descriptions interrogators were able to glean of the al Qaeda compound in Yemen provided by Abdulmutallab "were so precise that it is likely they have helped shape targeting decisions in the American drone campaign" there.

In 2015 Shane compiled and edited "The Anwar al-Awlaki File" for the National Security Archive – a posting containing 22 documents obtained under the FOIA that sheds significant light on the American government's knowledge and understanding of the cleric.

Oklahoma FOIA Release Shows Pruitt's Close Ties with Energy Industry

7,500 pages of emails and other records released under FOIA to the Center for Media and Democracy two days after Scott Pruitt was confirmed as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency show Pruitt "closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations." A move by Senate Democrats to delay Pruitt's confirmation vote until after the emails from Pruitt's tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General were published was defeated by Republicans. Many of the emails had been published by the New York Times in 2014, but the totality of this week's release "captures just how much at war Mr. Pruitt was with the E.P.A. and how cozy he was with the industries that he is now charged with policing."

Judge Tells FBI Argument for Exemption "Falls Woefully Short," but Bureau Gets Another Chance to Justify Withholdings

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta told the FBI's lawyers in a FOIA lawsuit that their argument for invoking FOIA's law enforcement exemption "falls woefully short" and was "particularly inadequate." The case was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which sued the bureau for "copies of the FBI's 'privacy impact assessments' and 'privacy threshold analyses' on various bureau databases containing personal information." The bureau released 2,200 redacted pages, arguing the withheld information would compromise law enforcement methods or techniques. Mehta disagreed, saying the agency didn't prove that the redacted information was actually compiled for law enforcement purposes; Mehta "also faulted the FBI for failing to explain in detail how it searched for records responsive to EPIC's request." Josh Gerstein notes EPIC's win may only be temporary, "since the judge said he would give the FBI and its Justice Department attorneys another crack at justifying the withholdings and explaining the search process."

searchsurvey2How Does Your Agency Conduct a FOIA Search?

The National Security Archive and the Project on Government Oversight are distributing an unofficial survey for both FOIA processors and FOIA requesters on how agencies conduct searches. The goal of the survey will be to collect data on disparate agency search methods and software – and the more people who fill it out, the more useful the collected data will be.

Please take 10-15 minutes to fill out the survey and help us circulate it as widely as possible.

CBP Gives 5-Day Deadline for "Still Interested" Letter 

The Memory Hole's Russ Kick recently posted a photo of a FOIA response from Customs and Border Protection giving him only five days to respond to a "still interested" letter before closing the request, which concerned Trump's January 27 Executive Order on immigration. In other words, the CBP is issuing "still interested" letters with an absurdly short response time for FOIA requests that are, at most, 27 days old.

The insult of the five-day deadline is made worse by the fact that there is nothing in the FOIA itself that allows an agency to close a request if the agency does not receive a response from a "still interested" letter. According to the statute (5 USC § 552(a)(3)(A)), once a request is submitted that both "(i) reasonably describes such records and (ii) is made in accordance with published rules stating the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed, [an agency] shall make the records promptly available to any person."

CBP told the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) during its FY 2016 FOIA compliance report that CBP's "FOIA Office has not used 'still interested' letters since FY 2012." OGIS also noted in its compliance report that, "In 2012, CBP administratively closed 11,000 FOIA requests and sent letters to the requesters informing them of the closure and that they should contact the agency if they were still interested in the agency processing the request; the agency had to re-open the requests and process them." Either CBP was being untruthful with OGIS while the ombuds office was conducting its FY2016 report, or the agency has decided to drastically change course on issuing these letters in the time since OGIS published its compliance report. (OGIS has also issued several good reports on agency use of "still interested" letters that CBP should re-read, noting first among its findings that the data "does not capture requester frustration" at receiving these letters.)

CBP's letter is also in violation of guidance issued by the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy (OIP) in July 2015, which clearly requires agencies provide requesters a reasonable amount of time to respond to a still interested letter (30 days at a minimum).


CBP isn't alone in trying to proactively close FOIA requests. Amie Stepanovich, the policy manager for Access Now, recently spotlighted an absurd FOIA response from the Interior Department that said, "We expect to issue our determination response to you by March 9, 2017. If you do not receive our response by that date, you may consider your request administratively denied and file an appeal."


B5 Upheld in State Department Handling of Clinton Emails

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg is upholding the State Department's use of FOIA's exemption 5 – the deliberative process exemption – to withhold agency discussions about Hillary Clinton's emails in a FOIA lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch. In the ruling Boasberg found, ""A document sheds light on misconduct when it 'reflects any governmental impropriety,' but not when it merely reflects a 'part of the legitimate government process intended to be protected by Exemption 5.'" Judicial Watch has not yet announced if it will appeal the decision.

Child Care Center Emergency Plans Were Among Building Info Endangered by GSA Cloud Security Lapses

A 2014 General Services Administration Office of Inspector General report found that sensitive building information – which could be employed in attempts to damage people or property – was available to individuals without a need to know.

Specific sensitive but unclassified building information that was available included:
– Child care center emergency plans;
– Evacuation routes;
– Detailed vulnerability assessments containing explosive blast loads for courthouses and blueprints pinpointing location of judges' chambers;
– Security and mail screening procedures for a National Nuclear Security Administration campus.

The report was released in January 2017 because the vulnerabilities "no longer exist," and is one of a dozen new additions posted in the National Security Archive's Cyber Vault on Wednesday, February 22.

FEMA Didn't Realize it was Ordering Lethal Ricin for Years

FOIA-released records obtained by USA TODAY show that "Officials at a federal training facility that mistakenly exposed thousands of first responders to deadly ricin toxin were worried five years ago that their vendor had shipped the wrong type of powder." Alison Young reports that FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security are currently investigating the incident, which FEMA blames on a vendor whose identity is redacted from the released documents, but notes there's been no explanation why it took FEMA so long to spot the potentially lethal problem.

TBT Pick – Iraq: The Media War Plan


This week's #tbt pick is a 2007 posting from our Iraq Project that spotlights a Defense Department White Paper and PowerPoint briefing that recommend a "Rapid Reaction Media Team" that would "serve as a bridge between Iraq's formerly state-controlled news outlets and an 'Iraqi Free Media' network." According to analysis by Iraq Project Director Joyce Battle, "the rapid reaction team would create narratives leading Iraqis to feel, Pentagon planners enthused, like North Koreans who turned off state TV at night and in the morning turned on 'the rich fare of South Korean TV . . . as their very own.' Foreshadowing the unfolding of the U.S. government's Iraq media policy, preliminary work would not come cheap – Defense Department planners recommended paying two U.S. consultants $140,000 each for a campaign of six months duration."

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