By Idrees Ali WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forty-four Afghan troops visiting the United States for military training have gone missing in less than two years, presumably in an effort to live and work illegally in America, Pentagon officials said. Although the number of disappearances is relatively small -- some 2,200 Afghan troops have received military training in the United States since 2007 -- the incidents raise questions about security and screening procedures for the programs. They are also potentially embarrassing for U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, which has spent billions of dollars training Afghan troops as Washington seeks to extricate itself from the costly, 15-year-old war. The disclosure could fuel criticism by supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has accused the Obama administration of failing to properly vet immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and has pledged a much tougher stance if he wins. While other foreign troops on U.S. military training visits have sometimes run away, a U.S. defense official said that the frequency of Afghan troops going missing was concerning and "out of the ordinary." Since September alone, eight Afghan troops have left military bases without authorization, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told Reuters. He said the total number of Afghan troops who have gone missing since January 2015 is 44, a number that has not previously been disclosed. "The Defense Department is assessing ways to strengthen eligibility criteria for training in ways that will reduce the likelihood of an individual Afghan willingly absconding from training in the U.S. and going AWOL (absent without leave)," Stump said. Afghans in the U.S. training program are vetted to ensure they have not participated in human rights abuses and are not affiliated with militant groups before being allowed into the United States, Stump said. The defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added there was no evidence any of those who had absconded had carried out crimes or posed a threat to the United States. The Afghan army has occasionally been infiltrated by Taliban militants who have carried out attacks on Afghan and U.S. troops, but such incidents have become less frequent due to tougher security measures. Trump, whose other signature immigration plan is to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims seeking to enter the country, and has said that law enforcement officers should engage in more racial profiling to curb the threat of attacks on American soil. After Omar Mateen, whose father was born in Afghanistan, killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June, Trump said an immigration ban would last until "we are in a position to properly screen these people coming into our country." BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TRAINING Washington has allocated more than $60 billion since 2002 to train and equip Afghan troops, but security remains precarious and the Taliban are estimated to control more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001 when the U.S. invaded. Earlier this year Obama shelved plans to cut the U.S. force in Afghanistan nearly in half by year's end, opting instead to keep 8,400 troops there through the end of his presidency in January. The military training program brings troops to the United States from around the world in order to build on military relations and improve capabilities for joint operations. In some cases, officials said, the Afghan students who went missing were in the United States for elite Army Ranger School and intelligence-gathering training. The officials did not identify the missing troops or their rank. Even though the troops were in the United States for military training, they were not necessarily always on a military base. If students under the military program are absent from training for more than 24 hours, they are considered to be "absent without leave" (AWOL) and the Department of Homeland Security is notified. In one case the Pentagon confirmed that an Afghan student had been detained by Canadian police while attempting to enter Canada from the United States. It was unclear how many others have been located by U.S. authorities, and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Experts said low morale and insufficient training to fight the Taliban could explain the troops leaving, in addition to a dearth of economic opportunities in the impoverished country. "They face a formidable enemy, with very limited resources and many Afghan troops aren't getting paid on time,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think-tank. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Julia Harte and Alana Wise.; editing by Yara Bayoumy and Stuart Grudgings)
Christina Bobb's comments on Fox News sounded more like an admission to some of Trump's critics.
Ex-official who investigated Hillary Clinton's emails said there would be evidence if Trump declassified documents: 'It can't just be an idea in his head'
"Programs and officials would have been notified," former DOJ official David Laufman said of Trump's claim he declassified all the Mar-a-Lago docs.
- Business Insider
Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham thinks there's nothing surprising on Mar-a-Lago surveillance tapes: 'I think what we would see is hardworking FBI agents doing their jobs'
Stephanie Grisham said she's not "surprised" Trump hasn't released the footage yet "only because I don't think there is anything there."
- In The Know by Yahoo
American woman dumbfounded by plate after ordering ‘chips and salsa’ in Italy: ‘I’ll never get over it’
A word to the wise: "Chips and salsa" doesn't mean the same thing everywhere.
The right has used this phrase for others, but doesn't think it should apply to them.
- The Daily Beast
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / GettyAt the risk of awarding the title prematurely, we think we’ve found the weirdest study published in 2022. Scientists strapped GoPro cameras to the bodies of six dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy, and recorded them hunting for food and consuming their prey in grisly detail. According to the study, there was a purpose behind this potential invasion of dolphin privacy; namely, to learn more about how the mammals hunted and ate.Scientists
- Chicago Tribune
R. Kelly’s former goddaughter breaks down at his federal trial, telling jury he filmed them having sex while she was a minor
The woman had been testifying for more than four hours Thursday about her clandestine sexual relationship with R&B superstar R. Kelly as an impressionable young teenager when she was asked about one of the central mysteries in the case. Why, after two decades of silence, did she finally decide to come forward and speak out? There was a lengthy, silent pause in the Chicago federal courtroom. ...
- Chicago Tribune
R. Kelly’s former goddaughter breaks down at his federal trial in Chicago, telling jury he filmed them having sex while she was a minor
CHICAGO — For the first time after two decades of swirling allegations, R. Kelly’s former goddaughter has taken the stand as a prosecution witness in a case against the disgraced singer. Dressed in a white blazer with her hair in long braids, the woman, now 37 and testifying at Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago under the pseudonym “Jane,” told the jury she had sexual contact with Kelly for the ...
- USA TODAY
Frederick Woods, now 70, was 24 when he and two other men kidnapped 26 school children and their bus driver in Northern California and buried them.
- The Recount
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announces FL has “charged and is in the process of arresting 20 individuals … for voter fraud.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a presser in a courthouse to announce that the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security, which began on July 1, has discovered 20 instance of voter fraud. DeSantis says the 20 individuals will be charged and arrested for their crimes. The state of Florida will continue to monitor voter fraud in the upcoming election as well as review the 2020 election results.
This one may not help the former president's case.
"There's no way Trump wrote that," said "The Daily Show" host.
- Good Housekeeping
Singer Jessie James Decker shared some of her latest designs from her line Kittenish on Instagram and fans are in complete awe of how fit she looks.
- The New York Times
The ads are everywhere — as are the inflated claims: Special shampoos and treatments, sometimes costing thousands of dollars, will make hair grow. But many dermatologists who specialize in hair loss say that most of these products do not work. “There is an endless array of useless hair-growth remedies,” often at “significant cost,” said Dr. Brett King, a dermatologist at Yale School of Medicine. Yet, he added, “because people are desperate, such hair growth remedies continue to abound.” But ther
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
When someone fully and completely embraces a public life, there really are no personal issues. That dynamic is becoming abundantly clear with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, who has fully embraced and cultivated a platform that has resulted in the aggressive pursuit of multiple business interests, has had his football career plunge into mystery with [more]
I'm a former college teacher. I wish parents would teach their kids these 3 life skills before they're done with high school.
The author taught in college for nine years and shares three things all parents should be teaching their kids before they head out to college.
- Ukrayinska Pravda
Russian media: nearly 700 Russian contractors from the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade want to desert from battlefield
Illustrative photo: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine STANISLAV POHORILOV - FRIDAY, 19 AUGUST 2022, 14:22 Nearly 700 contractors from the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, which is responsible for war crimes in the Kyiv region, are trying to get fired and leave Ukraine but don't manage to.
The New York Times' Maggie Haberman speculates that Trump could have taken documents related to the Mueller probe
Trump had a habit of keeping documents if he thought "something was cool" or it was "personally advantageous," Haberman said on a podcast.
A San Jose fire captain is grappling with an unthinkable tragedy after all three of his children were killed in a car crash Sunday evening. The children's mother and ex-wife of the firefighter also died in the crash.
- The Recount
Fox News’ Steve Doocy explains the real-world consequences of Republicans' FBI-bashing to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Fox News host Steve Doocey took Senator Rand Paul to task over his accusations that the FBI search was illegitimate, pointing out that the attacks on the agency are putting agents there at risk. DOOCEY: Well, and Senator absolutely Congress has oversight over the FBI and the Department of Justice and everything else. The problem is over the last week or so there's been so much violent rhetoric directed at the FBI and I heard somebody printed FBI stands for Fascist Bureauof Investigation or something like that.