Suicides among Army troops soared last year and are at a nearly three-decade high, Defense Department officials announced Thursday. At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. The final count is likely to be higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said. The new figure of more than 128 compares to 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 — and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980. It also calculates roughly to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers — which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, officials told a Pentagon news conference. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made an open plea for more U.S. mental health professionals to sign on to work for the military. "We are hiring and we need your help," she said.
CIA officer accused of Algiers rapes
A CIA officer in Africa is under investigation in two separate instances in which he was accused of rape, according to court documents and a government official. Court papers filed in federal court in Washington by a State Department investigator show two Algerian women came forward separately to say they had been sexually assaulted by the man while at his home in Algiers, where he was stationed. The court documents identify the man as Andrew Warren. He has not been charged with a crime.The document says Warren has been assigned to Algiers since 2007. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the man in question has returned to the United States while the government investigates. He referred further questions to the Justice Department, which declined to comment.
Anti-gay marriage donors to be named
A federal judge has denied a request to keep secret the names of donors to California's anti-gay marriage initiative. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ruled Thursday that the state's campaign disclosure laws are intended to protect the public and are important during expensive initiative campaigns. Supporters of Proposition 8 had sought a preliminary injunction to hide the identities of those who contributed to their campaign. The initiative was approved by voters in November. It overturned a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriage. Reports that identify those who donated within two weeks of the election or afterward are scheduled to be publicly released Monday.
Cardinal 'mystified' by investigation
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said Thursday he was "mystified and puzzled" by a federal grand jury investigation into the handling of alleged clergy child molestation cases by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Mahony told KNX radio that "we have been through these investigations for years now." Mahony said 22 priests were named in a federal subpoena of documents from the archdiocese but none was still in the priesthood. "Two are dead, the other 20 have returned to the lay state and are long gone," Mahony said.