Trump's nominee withdraws amid flak over anti-Islam views and gender bias

ark Green, a Republican state senator of Tennessee who was forced to withdraw his nomination as Army secretary. (Twitter photo)
Updated 06 May 2017

Trump's nominee withdraws amid flak over anti-Islam views and gender bias

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s choice for Army secretary has withdrawn his nomination in the face of growing criticism over his remarks about Muslims, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Mark Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, said in a statement Friday that “false and misleading attacks” against him had turned his nomination into a distraction.
“Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” Green said, expressing “deep regret” over the decision.
Green is the second Trump nominee for Army secretary to withdraw.
The move to step aside comes after a video began circulating of a remarks Green gave in September to a tea party group in Chattanooga. Green, who is opposed to gay marriage, said being transgender is a disease. He urged that a stand be taken against “the indoctrination of Islam” in public schools” and also referred to the “Muslim horde” that invaded Constantinople hundreds of years ago.
Several Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, declared they would oppose Green’s nomination over what they said were intolerant and disturbing views. Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a combat veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war, said in a statement Friday that Green wasn’t fit to lead the service.
Schumer welcomed Green’s move to step aside.
“Mark Green’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration as Army secretary is good news for all Americans, especially those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments directed toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community and more,” he said in a statement.
Also on Friday, a coalition of 41 organizations led by the Human Rights Campaign called on the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee to reject Green’s nomination. The letter to Senators John McCain of Arizona and Jack Reed of Rhode Island said Green’s “shameful rhetoric” is at odds with the Army’s core values and will affect recruiting.
Green’s withdrawal underscores the challenges Trump has faced in filling two of the service secretary posts. The president’s first pick to be the Army’s top civilian, Vincent Viola, dropped out in early February because of financial entanglements, and about three weeks later Philip B. Bilden, the Navy secretary nominee, withdrew for similar reasons.
The GOP-led Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on the nomination of Heather Wilson to be Air Force secretary.
Trump’s decision to tap Green in early April represented a stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s choice of Eric Fanning for the post. Fanning, who’d been a senior Pentagon official, was the first openly gay leader of one of the military branches.
Green graduated from West Point in 1986 and served as an Army physician. Green is the CEO of Align MD, which provides leadership and staffing to emergency departments and hospitals, according to the White House. He served in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment where he made three combat tours to the Middle East.
As a Tennessee state senator, Green sponsored legislation last year that his critics have said would make it easier for businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
During his remarks before the Chattanooga tea party group, Green said the Obama administration has “bred general officers who are afraid of their shadow.” He also said that “if you poll the psychiatrists, they’re going to tell you that transgender is a disease.”
___
Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.


UN rights chief ‘troubled’ by new Sri Lanka army chief

Updated 28 min 16 sec ago

UN rights chief ‘troubled’ by new Sri Lanka army chief

  • Shavendra Silva, 55, was promoted by President Maithripala Sirisena to commander of the Sri Lankan army
  • A UN report said Silva played a major role in orchestrating war crimes.

GENEVA: UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday she is “deeply troubled” by Sri Lanka’s appointment of an accused war criminal as army chief, as global concern mounts over the nomination.
Major General Shavendra Silva, 55, was elevated to the army’s second-highest position of chief of staff in January before his latest promotion by President Maithripala Sirisena to commander of the Sri Lankan army.
“The promotion of Lt. General General Silva severely compromises Sri Lanka’s commitment to promote justice and accountability,” Bachelet said in a statement.
Silva, who commanded an army division in the long-running civil war with Tamil separatists, has been accused by the United Nations of war crimes during the conflict’s final stages.
“I am deeply troubled by the appointment ... despite the serious allegations of gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against him and his troops during the war,” Bachelet said.
The US embassy in Colombo, along with civil society groups, have also criticized the appointment as a move likely to undermine reconciliation efforts.
Sri Lanka’s armed forces crushed the separatist rebels in 2009 in a no-holds barred offensive that ended a 37-year war which killed 100,000 people.
There were mass atrocities against civilians in Sri Lanka’s predominantly Tamil north toward the end of the conflict, with rights groups saying some 40,000 ethnic Tamils were killed by government forces.
A UN report said Silva played a major role in orchestrating war crimes.