Monday, August 25, 2008


Starting with war resistance. US war resister Robin Long was court-martialed in Colorado Friday and Karen Linne, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office, explained Friday afternoon that he was sentenced to 15 months behind bars, reduced in rank (to E1) and given a dishonorable discharge. Robin was held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso Country while awaiting the court-martial and he will receive credit for the time he has served ("about 40 days").
Eric Singer: Now getting back to a story we told you about earlier on in the newscast, a judge at Fort Carlson sentences a soldier to 15 months for desertion. He ran to Canada.

Nina Sparano: Twenty-four-year-old Private First Class Robin Long was supposed to be deployed to Iraq three years ago. Only On News Channel 13's Scott Harrison was in the court room for the sentencing.

Scott Harrison: Early Friday afternoon, Private First Class Robin Long left this court room and walked down this sidewalk for the last time as a free man for the next fourteen months or so as he begins his sentence for desertion. Long seemed in good spirits as guards escorted him to a waiting vehicle. He also got a warm send off from peace activists and anti-war protesters who came to support him. Some supporters hired an attorney from Oklahoma to represent Long.

James Branum: He got to speak his mind about why he did what he did and he knows that, yes, he did the legally wrong thing but the morally right thing.
Scott Harrison: Long's sympathizers expected he would serve some time after going AWOL then fleeing to Canada to avoid deploying to Iraq but they think 15 months is too harsh.

Ret. Army Col. Mary Ann Wright: Four months, five months something like that -- which is pretty common among all of the ones who have gone AWOL and been public about it. I think that would be an appropriate punishment.

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux: Robin Long to me is a hero. He is an individual who stood up during a time of great, great crisis facing overwhelming adversity and opposition and stood true to what he knew to be right.

Scott Harrison: Coming up at six, we'll learn more about the influences effecting Private Long's life that led him to be at this court room today. At Fort Carson, Scott Harrison News Channel 13.

Nina Sparano: Long's sentence will be reduced by forty days because of time already served. He's also reduced in rank to private and will receive a dishonorable discharge.

Samantha Anderson: [The court-martial of] a Fort Carson soldier Friday at times became more of a debate about the Iraq War then about the soldier's desertion. In our continuing coverage, News Channel 13's Scott Harrison explains how more service men and women are taking stands to oppose the war.

Scott Harrison: For most men and women in the military, the decision to go to war is a simple one. They follow orders. It's part of the job of being in the armed forces. But Friday's court-martial here at the mountain post attracted other soldiers who have taken stands similar to Private Long in opposing the Iraq War. We told you Friday how Private Long pleaded guilty to avoiding a deployment to Iraq by fleeing to Canada. Among those supporting him at his court-martial were a retired Army Col. and State Dept diplomat.

Ann Wright: I resigned in opposition to the war in Iraq. And that's -- he went AWOL because of the war in Iraq.

Scott Harrison: Also present was a Reserve Sergeant who announced a month before his scheduled deployment that he wouldn't go, considering the war an illegal act of aggression.

Matthis Chiroux: I'm not exactly sure what is going to happen. My situation is quite unique.

Scott Harrison: Sgt. Chiroux says the Army has decided not to court-martial him partly because he gained sympathy and support in Congress for the growing cause of war objectors within the military. The different actions toward Sgt. Chiroux and Private Long show how the military itself can seem divided on the issue.
Ann Wright: And that's an interesting thing because one would think that the army throughout the world would have a common view of these things. And that maybe there wouldn't be such disparity.

Scott Harrison: These war objectors -- whether in or out of the military -- say there are hundreds of servicemen and women like Private Long and more will come as the war continues.

Matthis: Who takes his dedication to the Constitution so seriously that he is willing to face persecution for it? Not even our own president is willing to do that.

Scott Harrison: Private Long is believed to be only the second soldier court-martialed for desertion by fleeing to Canada since the end of the Vietnam war. And both of those cases have happened just within the last month. At Fort Carson, Scott Harrison News Channel 13.

Robin Long wasn't 'found' in Canada that week. He was expelled from Canada July 14th. (He was extradited.) Second, there has been more than two US war resisters who went to Canada and then returned and were court-martialed. Darrell Anderson returned from Canada and turned himself in October 3, 2006 but was not court-martialed, as Jim Fennerty explained to Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) back in October of 2006 (article no longer available online, but quoted in this October 4th entry). Two others would follow him back to the US that year. Kyle Snyder would turn himself in and then self-checkout again when the US military broke the promised agreement. Snyder was informed that he was going back to his unit, despite the agreement that had been worked out. Snyder is married to a Canadian citizen and should not (unless Judge Anne Mactavish thinks she can get away with it) be under threat of deportation today. The other? Remember The Full Brobeck? Ivan Brobeck returned from Canada and turned himself in on November 7, 2006 (mid-term election day and Brobeck returned with an open letter to the occupant of the White House). Brobeck was court-martialed Dec. 5, 2007 and released on Feb. 5, 2007. As Robert Fantina (Political Affairs magazine -- one of the few to note Brobeck) explained, "Several soldiers who deserted after a tour of duty in Iraq have stated that cruelty towards Iraqi citizens was a factor in their desertions. One of them, Lance Corporal Ivan Brobeck, witnessed the abuse of Iraqi detainees and the killing of Iraqi civilians. Another, Sgt. Ricky Clousing, had similar experiences. His allegations of systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees are now being investigated by the military." Ivan Brobeck would be the first known US war resister that went to Canada and returned to the US to be court-martialed.

Back to Robin's court-martial. Jupiter Kalambakal (AHN) reported, "During the trial, Long, 25, of Boise, Idaho, said he fled when his unit was deployed to Iraq because he felt it was an illegal war, according to CBC. Prosecutors, on the other hand, said he abandoned his duty and his country." Tom Roeder (Colorado Springs Gazette via Albany Times Union) noted that Col. Debra Boudreau presided as the judge, that the prosecution called no witnesses and that the prosecution "showed a six-minute video of Long, sporting dreadlocks and a beard, telling a Canadian news reporter 'I think I was lied to by my president'." That's the October 2007 CBC interview Robin gave. The use of the video indicates Robin's civilian attorney James Branum was correct when he told Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) immediately before the court-martial, "I think they want to prosecute him for free-speech issues without actually charging him." A McClatchy Newspapers-Tribune Services article in The New Haven Register reported Ann Wright was among the witnesses and she testified that the Iraq War "was against, the law, arguing that justified Long's fleeing to Canada. . . . The lone character witness called to speak for Long was Peter Haney with the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. He had met the soldier three times while Long was awaiting trial in the El Paso County, Colo., lockup" and he testified, "I've observed Mr. Long in situations that would be trying to just about anyone. He seemed to me to be extremely poised and lucid." From that article:

In his testimony, Long talked about his life in Canada and attacked the war in Iraq.
"I feel the war on terror is a war on peace," Long testified, saying he planned to eventually move back to Canada where he has a girlfriend and a son born while he was on the run form the Army.
In Nelson, British Columbia, Long said he perfected his organic gardening skills and converted his Volkswagen to run on recycled cooking oil.
Long told the judge he wanted to serve little or no jail time, but would take a bad conduct discharge as punishment.
He wrapped up his time on the stand by telling the judge, "Peace, love and light."
Long's civilian attorney, James Branam, closed his part of the sentencing hearing by comparing Long to Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.
"The morality of what he did should lessen the punishment," Branam told the judge.

Dan Frosch (New York Times) quoted Jim Branum stating, "I felt he doesn't deserve a day in prison. Any jail time is unjust." Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) reported, "About two-dozen anti-war supporters gathered around the courthouse at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., yesterday afternoon as a military judge handed down Long's sentence." Other coverage included an AP article, Erin Miller filed a report for KBS Radio. David Fox and Jesse McLaren write to the Toronto Star to point out that the sentence proves Judge Mactavish was wrong in her decixion. Jesse McLaren: "Since it is now clear that deporting war resisters to the U.S. does indeed produce irreparable harm, the Harper government must enact the motion passed in Parliament to stop the deportations and let war resisters stay." David Fox: "Justic MacTavish claimed he would not suffer 'irreparable harm' if deported. How is a military jail sentence and a felony conviction not irreparable harm? No soldier should face jail for opposing the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. And Stephen Harper must be held to account for deporting Robin Long when he knew full well the persecution and punishment he faced in Bush's America." Robin's civilian attorney Jim Branumn notes Free Robin Long and at his own site notes press coverage here and here.

Friday, Free Speech Radio News reported on Robin and the lead up to the court-martial and Jeremy Hinzman. Jeremy is the US war resister who was the first to go to Canada and apply for asylum. August 13th, he was informed he had until September 23rd to leave Canada or be deported.

Jes Burns: Back in Canada, another war resister, Jeremy Hinzman, is fighting for himself and his family to remain in the country. The Canadian government has ordered the Hinzman family to leave by September 23rd despite a motion passed in Parliament in June calling for an end to the deporations. Earlier this week Hinzman spoke at a Toronto forum to discuss strategies to stem the tide of current deportations.

Jeremy Hinzman: Ever since we got here, if it wouldn't be for the support of all of ya'll . . . It seems like we've had our hands tied. The Canadian government intervened in my case, said that the illegality of the war was irrelevant to our refugee claim. We appealed this all the way to the Supreme Court and, in November of last year, they refused to hear our case. So being here for four and a half years, working full time, having a family, having friends we thought perhaps that we'd have a shot at compassionate, humanitarian grounds for staying here. and as Michelle said last week we found out that that is not going to be the case. It's pretty devastating but all I can say is that I'd rather -- or I'd proudly serve jail time rather than kill and displace innocent people.

Jes Burns: The current hope for Hinzman is a new federal appeal in his case. Alyssa Manning is a lawyer representing him and other war resisters. She says the decision to deport Hinzman was made based on the assumption there would be adequate protection for his religious beliefs and political opinions back in the United States. But new evidence has emerged -- evidence that has already been used to stay the deporation of another war resister Corey Glass.

Alyssa Manning: New evidence has since come out that was not available to the Federal Court of Appeal that says that soldiers who speak out against the war in Iraq are actually subjected to severe punishment by the military solely for speaking out. And it was based on this new evidence that the Federal Court issued a stay of removal in Corey's case. Justice [Orville] Frenette, for the Court, he said, "The applicant submits that if returned to the United States he will be court-martialed for desertion and he will be incarcerated in a military prison where, like Stephen Funk, Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman, he will suffer persecution and cruel and inhumane treatment." He then said: "I believe the evidence here shows that if returned to the US the applicant will suffer the harm he has described." So that's a clear finding from the Federal Court that what these resisters have been alleging would happen to them if they're sent back is actually happening

Jes Burns: Manning says there were definite errors in the decision to deport Hinzman and his family. She hopes a new round of appeals will convince the Canadian courts to stay the deporation.

To show your support for Jeremy and other US war resisters in Canada, Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email:"

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, 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, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Daniel Baker, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

[. . .]
Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, is providing Ralph's Daily Audio Monday through Friday and this is "Bailouts on Your Back:"

This is Ralph Nader. The giant corporate destruction of capitalism is proceeding at an accelerated pace. It looks like captialsim -- that is the bearing of risk by the business -- is only for small business, not giant corporations that are deamed too big to fail no matter how their executives, overpaid as they are, undermine, weaken and damage the company their workers and share holders.
Three examples. The US government now has enacted legislation which provides for up to $25 billion in loan guarantees for the domestic auto companies. These are the same companies that for years opposed fuel efficiency standards while they sold customers their gas guzzling SUVs. Well when the price of gasoline went up, SUV sales went down and what's General Motors doing? Ford? Chrysler? They're going to Washington for, essentially, a tax payer bail-out. And they want more than $25 billion dollars in loan guarantees .
Next up is the nuclear industry. They can't get Wall St. financing for their new nuclear plants without a US government loan guarantee. They wanted $50 billion in recent legislation. But the Congress only gave them $19 billion for starters in loan guarantees. The Wall Streeters think that nuclear power is so risky and unpredicatable that they won't give them any loans without Uncle Sam guaranteeing them.
And then there's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For years opposing adequate regulation and adequate capital-ratios and they took on very risky financial instruments and now they're diving and they're in consulation with? US Treasury for some variety of bail-out or guarantee.
And so it goes. The big guys are too big to fail and so they have no incentive to bear the risk or even let their owners -- the share holders -- control runaway CEO pay that's tied to inflating profits and taking on excessive risk so their stock options are worth more for their private riches.
Capitalism is used as a propaganda tool by giant corporations -- as a legitimization of what they're doing. That is: going into the market place, bearing the risk, succeeding where they succeed and accepting the verdict of the market place which, of course, is always beyond their control. This is The Big Lie.
Wall St. goes to Washington for bail-outs, hand-outs, give-aways and subsidies -- and that ought to be an issue in the presidential campaign.
You won't hear John McCain and Barack Obama talking about this at all. They're in the same boat of government subsidized corporate capitalism. This is Ralph Nader.
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