Tuesday, December 18, 2007







Starting with war resistance. s3nn5 has posted a video online that's one of the PSAs in support of war resisters in Canada. It's entitled "Let them stay: US war resisters in Canada (2 of 3)" and the 9 minutes and 53 seconds video features Ryan Johnson, Clifford Cornell and others. We're going to focus on Joshua and Brandi Key and I've switched the order a bit (others speak between the excerpts) and also moved around Josh and Brandi based on what they're talking about. "[. . .]" indicates a space and that's where I've plugged in and moved around, just FYI. This is the Keys telling their story starting with Josh describing his time in Iraq.
Joshua Key: Then they go outside, what we call zip-cuffed -- which is just basically, you just tie their hands together. Then from that point, they put them on a truck and I don't ever know whatever else happened to them after that. After that you don't ever see them again, to our standpoint. You, uh, when you're in the house you usually . . . You demolish all of it. And it's real dramatic because you have women and kids -- you know, they're screaming because, hell, you just scared the hell out of them. You woke them up with an outrageous bang. I mean, C4 is very explosive. Um, you do that, you just ripped their brothers or their husbands from their arms, they threw 'em out, they don't know where there husbands, sons are going, they don't know when they're going to be back, if they'll be tortured, they don't know . . . you know? And you can't communicate with the people because you don't know how to communicate with them. And it adds more, I guess, grief to yourself and a lot more questions because you have to do it on a constant basis. And it rips people's families apart. And it rips you apart as well because you're the one having to do it and you don't have no say in 'Well I don't want to participate in this any longer,' you can't do that.
[. . .]
I didn't go trying to kill innocent farmers and kids trying to protect their own country. You have innocent people all around you dying all the time. Then you have, on the other hand, you have your friends, your American soldiers, either getting maimed, you know, with their legs blown off and then you start thinking to yourself for what purpose is any of this, you know? And then the only thing you can come up with after all's said and done, after you think and it drives you nuts, is that we're here for the benefit of the Bush administration. That's why we're here. And then nobody, even your superiors, big time superiors, they can't sit there and tell you what your goal is, what are we here for? They don't know that either. They couldn't even tell you. So then it comes to the point where, 'Okay, then I'm obviously I'm here for the oil.'
[. . .]
I was coming home for a two-week leave and I was supposed to return to Iraq for an unknown amount of time but by the time I got home, I mean, the whole entire time I pretty well know what I've got to do but I have to talk it over with my wife and see how everybody sees -- if they see it my way or if they don't see it my way. Well we did so we decided we're going to have to leave. So basically at that time, I considered, I deserted at that time.
Brandi Key: He didn't want to go and do the things he was doing to the civilians -- that part of what he had to do was tearing him up inside. So we thought, well, he might go to jail. That was very scary. And we thought about, um, he would be dishonorably discharged
which really upset him because that would follow you for the rest of his life in any job he tried to get or anything like that. We had to do what we had to do to keep our family together.
Joshua Key: So all I knew was we had to run. So then basically we left Colorado Springs and just took off driving. So we started driving east and we ended up in Philadelphia which was, you know, big enough for us. We lived there for fourteen months, basically from hotel to hotel. You, uh, you know you still have to work because you have to provide which is very nerve wracking and stressful at the time. And basically you have to, you have to be in the shadows constantly. You can't let nobody know who you are really. You have to be very very quiet. You have to constantly lie because nobody can know the real situation. Then it just got to the point where . . . I mean, then it was like in October, you have to start thinking of something, there has to be another way out of this because I was pretty paranoid, you might say, and pretty nervous. But I had a reason to be. So then it got to the point well, 'Well there's got to be something there, there's got to be something out there.' So I started looking on the internet and that's when I found Jeremy was up here, Jeremy Hinzman was up here and how Jeffry House had helped him and that there was a war resister campaign. So then I tried to contact them people but even then you really don't know, you know what I mean?
Brandi Key: Before Josh went to Iraq, he was very passive, very calm -- always calm. He never was nervous or got upset. The boys could do whatever, he was all fine with them. Like when he came back, we went out to have a drink, right at first to, you know, celebrate, he's home, whatever. And he totally flipped out because there was so many people in the place and he kept doing like this and like this [Brandi shifts her body to act out discomfort and looking around] cause he didn't want anybody behind him and he was like having flashbacks -- with a crowd of people around him. He would just freak out. He was just freaking out totally. That same night, he got so mad. He like flipped out in the house and was throwing things and cussing and yelling and ripping drawers out, and tear the ceiling fan down. It was just . . . things that . . . way different from him. It's kind of hard when you try to talk to him sometimes -- his mind'll be somewhere else and for the kids it's kind of hard because you try to interact but he's thinking about Iraq. Like he'll see something and that triggers it to where that's all he thinks about even though he tries to talk to us . . . um, he's just not there. He's gone.
March of 2005 was when the Keys moved to Canada and they had four children at that time, they now have five. Joshua Key tells their story in The Deserter's Tale which he wrote with Lawrence Hill. It's an incredible book (and has been optioned to be turned into a film). It makes a wonderful gift. And it's apparently moving to all readers including [language warning] The Stateside Army Book Club who apparently were so moved by the book, they crossed over into Canada and posed as Canadian police officers in a desperate attempt to meet their literary hero whose book had moved them so. When a book has a devoted fan base like that, it's a must-read. Jordy-boy (Propagandhi) notes that the book covers everything: "From the lies told in recruiting offices, to the racist indoctrination of soldiers-in-training, to the terrorizing of iraqi citizens, to the systematic pilfering of their possessions . . . all the way to the refusal of a soldier to go back to war, putting himself and his family underground, ending up in canada, and truly seeking refuge from a nation that wishes to criminalize his decision to note take part in what of course amounts to the genocidal program of the united states of america, and their s**t-eating allies."
The Canadian Parliament has the power to let war resisters stay in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

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