1776 – Thomas Hickey, who plotted to hand George Washington over to British, was hanged.
1778 – The Liberty Bell came home to Philadelphia after the British left.
1829 – In Genoa, Italy, English scientist James Smithson dies after a long illness, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson’s curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Smithson had been a fellow of the venerable Royal Society of London from the age of 22, publishing numerous scientific papers on mineral composition, geology, and chemistry. In 1802, he overturned popular scientific opinion by proving that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one type of zinc carbonate was later named smithsonite in his honor. Six years after his death, his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, indeed died without children, and on July 1, 1836, the U.S. Congress authorized acceptance of Smithson’s gift. President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, eight shillings, and seven pence, as well as Smithson’s mineral collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects. After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President James K. Polk. Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 18 museums and galleries and many research facilities throughout the United States and the world. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the “Castle,” visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting marvels of aviation and space history such as the Wright brothers’ plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution’s great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.
1862 – Confederates broke through the Union lines at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill on the 3rd day of the Seven Days Battle in Virginia.
1863 – There was a skirmish at Fairfax Courthouse in Virginia.
1864 – Union General William T. Sherman launches a major attack on Confederate General Joseph Johnston’s army at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia. Beginning in early May, Sherman began a slow advance down the 100-mile corridor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Atlanta, refraining from making any large-scale assaults. The campaign was marked by many smaller battles and constant skirmishes but no decisive encounters. Johnston was losing ground, but he was also buying time for the Confederates. With Sherman frustrated in Georgia, and Ulysses S. Grant unable to knock out Robert E. Lee’s army in Virginia, the Union war effort was stalled, casualty rates were high, and the re-election of Abraham Lincoln appeared unlikely. In the days leading up to the assault at Kennesaw Mountain, Sherman tried to flank Johnston. Since one of Johnston’s generals, John Bell Hood, attacked at Kolb’s Farm and lost 1,500 precious Confederate soldiers, Sherman believed that Johnston’s line was stretched thin and that an assault would break the Rebels. So he changed his tactics and planned a move against the center of the Confederate lines around Kennesaw Mountain. He feigned attacks on both of Johnston’s flanks, then hurled 8,000 men at the Confederate center. It was a disaster. Entrenched Southerners bombarded the Yankees, who were attacking uphill. Three thousand Union troops fell, compared to just 500 Confederates. The battle was only a marginal Confederate victory. Sherman remained in place for four more days, but one of the decoy attacks on the Confederate flanks did, in fact, place the Union troops in a position to cut into Johnston’s rear. On July 2, Johnston had to vacate his Kennesaw Mountain lines and retreat toward Atlanta. Sherman followed, and the slow campaign lurched on into the Georgia summer.
1874 – Using new high-powered rifles to devastating effect, 28 buffalo hunters repulse a much larger force of attacking Indians at an old trading post in the Texas panhandle called Adobe Walls. The Commanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne Indians living in western Texas had long resented the advancement of white settlement in their territories. In 1867, some of the Indians accepted the terms of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge, which required them to move to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) but also reserved much of the Texas Panhandle as their exclusive hunting grounds. Many white Texans, however, maintained that the treaty had ignored their legitimate claims to the area. These white buffalo hunters, who had already greatly reduced the once massive herds, continued to hunt in the territory. By the early 1870s, Commanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne hunters were finding it harder to locate buffalo, and they blamed the illegal white buffalo hunters. When the federal government failed to take adequate measures to stop the white buffalo hunters, the great chief Quanah Parker and others began to argue for war. In the spring 1874, a group of white merchants occupied an old trading post called Adobe Walls near the South Canadian River in the Indian’s hunting territory. The merchants quickly transformed the site into a regional center for the buffalo-hide trade. Angered by this blatant violation of the treaty, Chief Quanah Parker and Lone Wolf amassed a force of about 700 Commanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne braves. On this day in 1874, the Indians attacked Adobe Walls. Only 28 hunters and traders occupied Adobe Walls, but they had two advantages over the Indians: the thick walls of the adobe structure were impenetrable to arrows and bullets, and the occupants had a number of high-powered rifles normally used on buffalo. The huntersýý .50 caliber Sharps rifles represented the latest technology in long-range, rapid firing weaponry. Already skilled marksmen, the buffalo hunters used the rifles to deadly effect, decimating the warriors before they came close enough even to return effective fire. On the second day of the siege, one hunter reportedly hit an Indian warrior at a distance of eight-tenths of a mile. Despite their overwhelmingly superior numbers, after three days the Indians concluded that Adobe Walls could not be taken and withdrew. The defenders had lost only four men in the attack, and they later estimated that the Indians had lost 13. Enraged by their defeat, several Indian bands subsequently took their revenge on poorly defended targets. Fearful settlers demanded military protection, leading to the outbreak of the Red River War. By the time the war ended in 1875, the Commanche and Kiowa had been badly beaten and Indian resistance on the Southern Plains had effectively collapsed.
1905 – The dawn of the twentieth century witnessed a sustained burst of progressive activities as various disenfranchised elements of American society pushed to assert their rights. This was especially true in the world of organized labor, as workers marshaled their forces in the battle against Big Business. Along with heading to the picket line, workers formed new and increasingly more strident unions, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was formally consecrated in Chicago on this day in 1905. Organized by industrial labor’s more militant members, including Eugene Debs, William D. Haywood (also known as ‘Big Bill’ Haywood) and the long-stymied Socialist segment of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the IWW tilted at the formidable windmills of industrial capitalism and its caste-like wage system. As Haywood told the union’s first convention, the IWW’s “purpose” was the “emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.” Towards that end, the IWW’s leaders sought to build a massive union that, rather than give in to labor’s nativist tendencies, built its numbers by pooling members from all races and ethnicites. Once the IWW became large enough, its leaders planned to call an apocalyptic strike that would effectively fell the capitalist system. Though the IWW did score some key victories, including leading a successful strike by textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1912), it also drew heavy fire from business leaders, government officials and conservative sectors of the union movement alike.
1914 – US signed a treaty of commerce with Ethiopia.
1916 – The 4th Marine Regiment defeated Dominican rebels in a stand-up bayonet attack.
1927 – The U.S. Marines adopted the English bulldog as their mascot.
1929 – Scientists at Bell Laboratories in New York revealed a system for transmitting television pictures.
1940 – A confidential meeting is held between British and Australian representatives and the United States Secretary of State Cordell Hull. The British and Australians ask for help in standing up to Japan. They wish the USA to take economic measures or to move more units of the fleet to Malaysian and Philippine waters or to offer to mediate between China and Japan. Hull is unable to agree to any of these moves which would involve a more active foreign policy than the American public is prepared to contemplate at this time.
1940 – The Germans set up two-way radio communication in their newly occupied French territory, employing their most sophisticated coding machine, Enigma, to transmit information. The Germans set up radio stations in Brest and the port town of Cherbourg. Signals would be transmitted to German bombers so as to direct them to targets in Britain. The Enigma coding machine, invented in 1919 by Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, looked like a typewriter and was originally employed for business purposes. The German army adapted the machine for wartime use and considered its encoding system unbreakable. They were wrong. The Brits had broken the code as early as the German invasion of Poland and had intercepted virtually every message sent through the system. Britain nicknamed the intercepted messages Ultra.
1942 – The FBI announced the capture of eight Nazi saboteurs who had been put ashore from 2 submarines, one off New York’s Long Island and the other off of Florida. The men were tried by a military court and 6 were secretly executed in a DC jail. Ernest Burger and George Dasch were sentenced to 30 years in prison for their help in revealing the plot. They were pardoned in 1948 by Pres. Truman.
1944 – American forces of 7th Corps (part of US 1st Army) complete the capture of Cherbourg. The port, however, is not presently operational. To the left, the British 2nd Army continues attacks. Forces of the British 30th Corps capture Rauray, near Caen, and British 8th Corps launches new attacks.
1945 – On Luzon, units of the US 37th Division, part of US 1st Corps, reach Aparri, on the north coast. With the occupation of the whole of the Cagayan valley, the campaign for the recapture of the island is now effectively complete. The remaining Japanese forces are isolated in remote parts of Luzon and lack supplies or medical care.
1945 – The American carrier USS Bunker Hill is struck by a Kamikaze plane, killing 373 men.
1945 – The FCC allocates airwaves for 13 TV stations. Before World War II, a few experimental TV shows had been broadcast in New York, but the war postponed the development of commercial television. With the allocation of airwaves, commercial TV began to spread. The first regularly scheduled network series appeared in 1946, and many Americans viewed television for the first time in 1947, when NBC broadcast the World Series. Since privately owned television sets were still rare, most of the series’ estimated 3.9 million viewers watched the games from a bar.
1950 – President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist guerrillas in Vietnam. At the Yalta Conference towards the end of World War II, the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces occupying the northern zone and Americans stationed in the south. In 1947, the United States and Great Britain called for free elections throughout Korea, but the Soviets refused to comply. In May 1948 the Korean Democratic People’s Republic–a communist state–was proclaimed in North Korea. In August, the democratic Republic of Korea was established in South Korea. By 1949, both the United States and the USSR had withdrawn the majority of their troops from the Korean Peninsula. At dawn on June 25, 1950 (June 24 in the United States and Europe), 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea across the 38th parallel, catching the Republic of Korea’s forces completely off guard and throwing them into a hasty southern retreat. On the afternoon of June 25, the U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session and approved a U.S. resolution calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” and the withdrawal of North Korean forces to the 38th parallel. At the time, the USSR was boycotting the Security Council over the U.N.’s refusal to admit the People’s Republic of China and so missed its chance to veto this and other crucial U.N. resolutions. On June 27, President Truman announced to the nation and the world that America would intervene in the Korean conflict in order to prevent the conquest of an independent nation by communism. Truman was suggesting that the USSR was behind the North Korean invasion, and in fact the Soviets had given tacit approval to the invasion, which was carried out with Soviet-made tanks and weapons. Despite the fear that U.S. intervention in Korea might lead to open warfare between the United States and Russia after years of “cold war,” Truman’s decision was met with overwhelming approval from Congress and the U.S. public. Truman did not ask for a declaration of war, but Congress voted to extend the draft and authorized Truman to call up reservists. On June 28, the Security Council met again and in the continued absence of the Soviet Union passed a U.S. resolution approving the use of force against North Korea. On June 30, Truman agreed to send U.S. ground forces to Korea, and on July 7 the Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces sent to Korea be put under U.S. command. The next day, General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of all U.N. forces in Korea. In the opening months of the war, the U.S.-led U.N. forces rapidly advanced against the North Koreans, but Chinese communist troops entered the fray in October, throwing the Allies into a hasty retreat. In April 1951, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command after he publicly threatened to bomb China in defiance of Truman’s stated war policy. Truman feared that an escalation of fighting with China would draw the Soviet Union into the Korean War. By May 1951, the communists were pushed back to the 38th parallel, and the battle line remained in that vicinity for the remainder of the war. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today. Approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died. The original figure of American troops lost–54,246 killed–became controversial when the Pentagon acknowledged in 2000 that all U.S. troops killed around the world during the period of the Korean War were incorporated into that number. For example, any American soldier killed in an car accident anywhere in the world from June 1950 to July 1953 was considered a casualty of the Korean War. If these deaths are subtracted from the 54,000 total, leaving just the Americans who died (from whatever cause) in the Korean theater of operations, the total U.S. dead in the Korean War numbers 36,516.
1950 – Just two days after communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea, the United Nations Security Council approves a resolution put forward by the United States calling for armed force to repel the North Korean invaders. The action provided the pretext for U.S. intervention in the conflict and was the first time the Security Council had ever approved the use of military force. On June 25, 1950, communist North Korea invaded South Korea. Although some U.S. military personnel were in South Korea, the North Korean forces made rapid headway. Almost immediately, the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution calling for a cease-fire and an end to North Korean aggression. North Korea dismissed the resolution as “illegal.” On June 27, Warren Austin, the U.S. representative on the Security Council, proposed a resolution. It noted that North Korea had ignored the earlier cease-fire resolution and that South Korea was pleading for assistance. Therefore, the resolution asked that “the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.” The resolution passed by a vote of 7 to 1. Yugoslavia was the only dissenting vote; Egypt and India abstained. The Soviet Union, as a permanent member of the Security Council, could have easily vetoed the resolution, but the Russian representative was boycotting Security Council meetings until the communist People’s Republic of China was admitted to the United Nations. The Security Council vote meant that any member nation could now come to the assistance of South Korea, though it left unstated how the efforts of various nations might be coordinated. For the United States, the resolution was all that was needed to provide a foundation for American military intervention. Just three days after the resolution was passed, President Harry S. Truman dispatched land, sea, and air forces to beat back the North Korean attack. That action led to three years of U.S. involvement in the Korean War and over 50,000 U.S. servicemen were killed in the conflict. An armistice signed in July 1953 left Korea a divided nation.
1950 – Flying a F-82G Twin Mustang in a defensive mission over Kimpo Airfield, Lieutenant William G. “Skeeter” Hudson, 68th Fighter (All-Weather) Squadron, destroyed a Yak-7U fighter and was officially credited with the first aerial victory of the Korean War. Lieutenant Carl Fraser occupied the second cockpit as copilot.
1950 – A patrol of F80C Shooting Stars from the 35th Fighter-Bomber Squadron intercepted eight Ilyushin IL-10 fighters over Kimpo. Captain Raymond E. Schillereff and Lieutenant Robert H. Dewald each scored single victories while Lieutenant Robert E. Wayne claimed a pair IL-10s. These were the first air-to-air victories achieved by jet fighters in U.S. Air Force history.
1950 – President Truman announces he is accelerating the program of military aid for Vietnam he began in April. This includes a military mission and military advisors. Aid is funneled through Paris. The United States has been indirectly supporting a buildup of an anti-Communist Vietnamese Army since 146. Fifteen million dollars is granted in military aid to the French for the war in Indochina on 26 July. By November 1952, the United States will be carrying between one half and one third of the financial burden for the Indochina War.
1951 – Sidney M. Gutierrez, Major USAF, astronaut (STS 40), was born in Albuquerque, NM.
1954 – CIA-sponsored rebels overthrew the elected government of Guatemala. A US supported force of Guatemalan mercenaries invaded from Honduras. Pres. Arbenz was toppled and replaced by 30 years of military rule. He spent much of his exile in Cuba. Arbenz died in 1971 in Mexico City. It was disclosed in 1997 to have been motivated by US economic interests with 58 Guatemalan politicians put on a list of potential targets for political killing.
1958 – Cuban rebel forces kidnapped 29 US sailors and Marines and held them until Jul 18.
1962 – NASA civilian pilot Joseph Walker took the X-15 to 6,606 kph, 37,700 m.
1963 – USAF Major Robert A. Rushworth in X-15 reached 86,900 m.
1963 – President Kennedy appoints Henry Cabot Lodge, his former Republican political opponent, to succeed Nolting as ambassador to Vietnam. In Washington the Kennedy administration begins seriously speculating on a coup against Diem.
1967 – There was a race riot in Buffalo, NY, and 200 were arrested.
1968 – The U.S. command in Saigon confirms that U.S. forces have begun to evacuate the military base at Khe Sanh, 14 miles below the Demilitarized Zone and six miles from the Laotian border. The command statement attributed the pullback to a change in the military situation. To cope with increased North Vietnamese infiltration and activity in the area, Allied forces were adopting a more “mobile posture,” thus making retention of the outpost at Khe Sanh unnecessary. The new western anchor of the U.S. base system in the northern region would be located 10 miles east of Khe Sanh. The siege of Khe Sanh during the 1968 Tet Offensive had been one of the most publicized battles of the war because of the similarities it shared with the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, in which the communist Viet Minh forces had decisively defeated the French and forced them from the war. Many in the American media had portrayed the battle for Khe Sanh as potentially “another Dien Bien Phu.” The battle began on January 22 with a brisk firefight involving the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines and a North Vietnamese battalion entrenched between two hills northwest of the base. An incessant barrage kept Khe Sanh’s Marine defenders–which included three battalions from the 26th Marines, elements of the 9th Marine Regiment, and the South Vietnamese 37th Ranger Battalion–pinned down in their trenches and bunkers. During the 66-day siege, U.S. planes, dropping 5,000 bombs daily, exploded the equivalent of five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs in the area. The relief of Khe Sanh, called Operation Pegasus, began in early April as the 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) and a South Vietnamese battalion approached the base from the east and south, while the Marines pushed westward to re-open Route 9. The siege was finally lifted on April 6, when the cavalrymen linked up with the 9th Marines south of the Khe Sanh airstrip. In a final clash a week later, the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines drove enemy forces from Hill 881 North. Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, contended that Khe Sanh played a vital blocking role at the western end of the Demilitarized Zone, and asserted that if the base had fallen, North Vietnamese forces could have outflanked Marine defenses along the buffer zone. Various statements in the North Vietnamese Communist Party newspaper suggested that Hanoi saw the battle as an opportunity to re-enact its famous victory at Dien Bien Phu. There was much controversy over the battle at Khe Sanh, as both sides claimed victory. The North Vietnamese, although they failed to take the base, claimed that they had tied down a lot of U.S. combat assets that could have been used elsewhere in South Vietnam. This is true, but the North Vietnamese failed to achieve the decisive victory at Khe Sanh that they had won against the French at Dien Bien Phu. For their part, the Americans claimed victory because they had held the base against the North Vietnamese onslaught. It was a costly battle for both sides. The official casualty count for the Battle of Khe Sanh was 205 Marines killed in action and over 1,600 wounded (this figure did not include the American and South Vietnamese soldiers killed in other battles in the region). The U.S. military headquarters in Saigon estimated that the North Vietnamese lost between 10,000 and 15,000 men in the fighting at Khe Sanh.
1973 – Nixon vetoed a Senate ban on Cambodia bombing.
1978 – US Seasat 1, the 1st oceanographic satellite, was launched into polar orbit.
1980 – President Carter signed legislation reviving draft registration.
1982 – The 4th Space Shuttle, Mission-Columbia 4, was launched.
1983 – NASA launched space vehicle S-205.
1985 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to limit the use of combat troops in Nicaragua.
1986 – US informed New Zealand it will not defend it against attack.
1990 – NASA announced that a flaw in the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope was preventing the instrument from achieving optimum focus.
1993 – In Somalia, Two GIs are WIA while clearing debris from 21 October Road.
1993 – US warships fired 24 Tomahawk cruise missiles at intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for the assassination plot. The Iraqis claimed 8 dead. Iraqis pulled their dead from the rubble of buildings wrecked by U.S. missiles during an early morning raid ordered by President Clinton in reprisal for an alleged assassination plot against former President Bush.
1994 – U.S. Coast Guard cutters intercepted 1,330 Haitian boat people on the high seas in one of the busiest days since refugees began leaving Haiti following a 1991 military coup.
1995 – The space shuttle “Atlantis” blasted off on a historic flight to link up with Russia’s space station “Mir” and bring home American astronaut Norman Thagard.
1995 – The San Francisco Chronicle received a message from the Unabomber threatening to blow up a plane by the July Fourth weekend. The Unabomber later called the threat a prank.
1996 – President Clinton and other Group of Seven leaders meeting in Lyon, France, pledged solidarity against terrorism following a truck bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans.
2000 – US House Republicans cut a deal to allow direct sales of food to Cuba for the first time in four decades.
2002 – A US Air Force pilot was killed when his A10 “Warthog” crashed during a training mission in eastern France.
2003 – The Coast Guard cutter Walnut, homeported in Honolulu, returned home after being deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She deployed to the North Arabian Gulf in January with an oil spill recovery system in the event the regime of Saddam Hussein committed any acts of environmental terrorism. When those threats did not materialize, the cutter conducted maritime interception operations enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions, participated in the search for two downed United Kingdom helicopters, and patrolled and provided assistance to captured Iraqi offshore oil terminals being secured by Coast Guard port security personnel. The cutter’s crew completely replaced 30 buoys and repaired an additional five along the 41-mile Khawr Abd Allah Waterway. This ATON mission vastly improved the navigational safety of the waterway for humanitarian aid, commercial, and military vessels sailing to the port and was a critical step to economic recovery for the people of Iraq.
2004 – Insurgents threatened to behead Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, a U.S. Marine who’d vanished in Iraq, in a videotaped that aired on Arab television. However, Hassoun contacted American officials in his native Lebanon the following month; after being reunited with his family in Utah, Hassoun disappeared in December.
2004 – Turkey rejected the demands of Islamic militants who are threatening to behead three of its kidnapped citizens during a visit by President Bush to Turkey.
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