Military Mail: Santa for Sergeants

Santa delivers on Christmas morning. Everyone else, especially those with loved ones in the U.S. military overseas, had better get moving before then if packages are to arrive in time for the holidays.

Christmas is Dec. 25, a Sunday. Hanukkah begins at sundown on the same day.

First-class mail for most overseas military posts must be sent by Dec. 10, according to the United States Postal Service. For first-class mail bound for Iraq and Afghanistan, however, the deadline is Dec. 5.

"It just takes a little bit longer to get everything over there, and because troops are so mobile," said Joanne Veto, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service.

Military mail should not contain perishable items and must be securely wrapped with heavy-duty shipping tape. "If you shake the box and you can hear things move, you want to repack it," Veto said. "And truly, the earlier you send it, the better it is."

Procrastinators, take note: Mail for most military addresses can be sent as late as Dec. 19, but must be sent by Express Mail Military Service. That service is not available at all post offices, and in any case it will not work for mail to Iraq and Afghanistan.

When it comes to mail, appearances matter. Folks sending mail to a military address should include the service member's name and an Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office address. Packages cannot be addressed to "Any Service Member."

"When the [Iraq] war first broke out, people were sending mail that was labeled 'Any Serviceman,' " Veto said. But "it's the Department of Defense's regulation that is has to be addressed to a specific person."

No Court Date for Ex-FBI Translator

The Supreme Court has turned a deaf ear to whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds.

Edmonds, who was dismissed as an FBI wiretap translator in 2002 after she called attention to security lapses, had appealed to the high court to revive a lawsuit in which she charged that the FBI had violated her free-speech rights. The suit also alleged that the government violated her privacy rights by leaking information from her personnel file.

No luck. The Supreme Court rejected Edmonds's appeal yesterday and left intact rulings by two lower courts that her allegations in the lawsuit might expose government secrets that could damage national security, Bloomberg News reported.

The Bush administration had urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, noting that the lower courts had found that Edmonds's case "would require the disclosure of classified, privileged information" by both sides, Bloomberg reported.

The justices also refused a request by Edmonds and media organizations to rule on whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was wrong to close its April 21 hearing on the case to the public.

Edmonds, 32, worked as a contract linguist for the FBI, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. Shortly before she was fired, Edmonds repeatedly complained about shoddy work and told superiors that she suspected a co-worker of leaking information to targets of an FBI probe.

The FBI said it fired Edmonds because she committed security violations and disrupted the office.

-- Christopher Lee