US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is the target of legal action by an army reservist who is suing him and top military officials over a retention policy that allows the Pentagon to keep troops on active duty in Iraq even after their contracts expire. \nAs many as 40,000 soldiers have been forced to extend their stay in the US Army through the so-called "stop-loss" emergency program since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to legal experts. \nThe plaintiff, who filed suit against Rumsfeld, Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee and others with the Ninth US District Court on Tuesday, alleges a breach of contract and questions the constitutionality of the whole setup. \nHe has been identified by his attorney simply as John Doe to protect his privacy. \nCourt documents describe him as a decorated veteran who has already completed nine years of active service with the Army and the US Marine Corps, including deployments in Somalia and unidentified war zones in the Middle East. \nLast year, the father of two small daughters aged three and six served a tour of combat duty in Iraq, which he completed in December. \nUpon returning home to the San Francisco Bay Area, Doe joined the California Army National Guard on a one-year contract that expires on December 21. \nHowever, his commanders told him in July that, because of the "stop-loss" policy, his one-year enlistment had been extended for an additional two years, and that his National Guard unit had been mobilized for service in Iraq, according to the lawsuit. \nHe is due to leave soon for six months of training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by deployment to Iraq immediately after the training program is completed. \nThe lawsuit asserts the emergency policy instituted in the wake of the September 11 attacks was "invalid" because the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has been removed from power and "Iraq cannot be considered to pose a threat of terrorist attack upon the United States." \nWhile acknowledging that Doe's contract allows the military to retain him in the event of war, the filing notes that "Congress has not declared a war in Iraq or elsewhere," which makes involuntary retentions illegal. \n"American citizens cannot constitutionally be required to serve involuntarily and indefinitely at whim," the lawsuit argues. \nThe controversial Pentagon policy has already turned into a political hot potato this election year, as Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry decried it in his acceptance speech in Boston, Massachusetts, last month as "the backdoor draft". \nThe comment drew a testy repartee from Rumsfeld, who insisted in a radio interview that "anyone in the reserve is there voluntarily". \nMeanwhile, attorney Michael Sorgen, who represents Doe, said the case will be certainly closely watched by thousands of military personnel and their families, particularly by the 123,000 American troops currently serving in Iraq. \n"When their period of enlistment ends, they should be entitled to return to their families," Sorgen said. \nMarguerite Hiken of the Military Law Task Force, a group that closely monitors enlistment policies, said the US military should not be allowed to create "a new category of indentured servitude."
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Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
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