A U.S. Army medic who refused to return for a second tour to Iraq was released from a military prison in Germany on Wednesday after serving a sentence for desertion, the U.S. military said.
Specialist Agustin Aguayo, 35, was convicted at a court martial in March of desertion and other lesser charges and sentenced to eight months in prison, well short of the possible maximum of seven years, in a case that has become a cause for peace activists.
With credit for time already served, he spent less than six weeks behind bars before being released, said U.S. European Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner.
Elsa Rassbach, whose anti-war group American Voices Abroad has assisted Aguayo, said his release was bittersweet.
"Even though he's free, the decision against him was unjust in our opinion, because he is a legitimate conscientious objector,,'' she said.
The above, noted by Gareth, is from David Rising's "Army Medic Serves Sentence for Desertion" (AP via Guardian of London). You can also read the AP article at CBS. Also on Aguayo, from Mark St. Clair's "Soldier who refused 2nd Iraq tour is released" (Stars and Stripes):
Aside from confinement, Aguayo, 35, was also given a bad-conduct discharge, which he has since appealed, Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner, a U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
According to Hibner, because of the appeal, Aguayo has two decisions: either stay as a member of his unit until the process is completed, or request voluntary excess leave from the Army and go stateside to his home of record.
Leave requires approval of the regional court-martial convening authority, the commander of 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr, Germany. As of Wednesday, Aguayo has not requested any leave.
"As of now," Hibner said, "(Aguayo) stays with the unit until he files (for leave) … He'll be on normal active-duty status, with the same standards as all the other soldiers in the unit."
If given permission to go back to the States, Aguayo would be on active-duty status until his regularly accrued leave expires, at which time he would no longer receive any pay, Hibner said.
Kyle asked if we could note Marjorie Cohn's "The New Watergate: U.S. Attorneys and Voting Rights" (Marjorie Cohn):
The Bush administration is shocked, shocked, that the firing of a few U.S. attorneys has caused such a stir in Washington. After all, the Oval Office says, the President can choose whomever he wants to prosecute federal cases. But the Supreme Court declared in Berger v. United States that a prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done, not to politicize justice. The mass ouster of the top prosecutors had more to do with keeping a grip on power - by manipulating voting rights - than with doing justice. And like the Watergate scandal, the evidence points to a cover-up.
This cover-up revolves around efforts by the Bush administration to disenfranchise African-American voters in communities where the vote would likely be close. George W. Bush came to power in 2000 by a razor-thin margin awarded him by the Supreme Court. During the 2004 election, there were allegations of attempts to disenfranchise African-American voters, especially in Ohio. Yet no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African-American or Native American voters from 2001 to 2006.
Instead, the administration instigated efforts that would further disenfranchise these voters. U.S. attorneys were instructed to prosecute "voter fraud" cases. "Voter fraud" has "become almost synonymous with 'voting while black,'" the New York Times' Paul Krugman observed. Also, Republican lawmakers enacted voter ID laws which established new hurdles for voters to jump.
Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild and, obviously we can note this, and has already been one of the people speaking to Larry Bensky this morning about the Gonzales scandal/cesspool ("tip of the iceberg") -- live coverage of the Gonzales testimony on KPFA. Bensky anchors the live broadcast and there will be many experts brought on (Bensky will take calls at some point and also give out the e-mail address for those wanting to comment).
That coverage is airing right now, it's live, you can listen over the airwaves or online. (No membership, no fee, no request that you fill out a survey.)
A visitor has already e-mailed this morning to inform that "there are three articles on Iraq!" in this morning's paper. Apparently, I confused someone when I wrote:
And the Times? Why do you have multiple reporters in Iraq (not counting stringers who do the bulk of the work) when yesterday results in only one story?
Seems pretty clear to me -- "multiple reporters in Iraq." There are two other stories in the Iraq section. David S. Cloud files from Tel Aviv on Robert Gates' trip. Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg file from DC. Multiple reporters in Iraq resulted in only one story, Kirk Semple is the only article with a Baghdad dateline. If there's any real surprise it's that the Times is (still) so caught up in the drama that they relegate the DC story to inside the paper -- think of a time when you have Bully Boy meeting with the Senate Majority Leader and the House Speaker and the Times (with their own photos of the meet up) wouldn't front page that?
There's not a lot of room when you're caught up in the drama. Not one, but two shooter articles on the front page (one by Tamar Lewin, one by Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora). That's two cover stories. On a Monday shooting. On the cover of a daily newspaper. If you don't grasp the problem your mind's been rotted by cable TV. As if that's not bad enough, flip inside the paper to A18 for the "MASSACRE IN VIRGINIA" section. Yes, today is Thursday, the Times is a daily paper, the shooting took place on Monday and they've run two front page stories today. That doesn't mean they can't hop in the sewer with the rest of the tabloids.
Bill Carter writes a piece, Neela Banerjee writes a piece, Jennifer Steinhauer writes a piece, there's a piece of "biographical sketches, you've got a piece by Colin Moynihan and you have a piece by Michael Luo. That's eight pieces on Thursday, in a daily paper, about an act of violence that took place on Monday (and has been covered every day in the paper already). Need more drama?
Turn to A27 and you've got columns by Bob Herbert and Barbara Oakley.
171 dead in Baghdad yesterday. One story in today's paper. 33 people dead in Virginia on Monday and, despite non-stop drama already, 8 pieces plus two columns. On the third day of the paper's nonstop drama (don't call it coverage) they still manage to squeeze out a little more drama because these days there's not a great deal of difference between the cesspools of cable TV and the New York Times.
At West's request, we'll close with Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Alberto Gonzales from the Land of Denial."
Again, live coverage of the Gonzales testimony on KPFA.
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