Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gregory Levey breaks the silence on the harassment of war resisters

With the Iraq war in its fifth year, an increasing number of American soldiers have been going AWOL and fleeing to Canada, particularly over the last six months. One lawyer who works on their behalf puts the number of American war resisters currently living in Canada at 250 or more. Advocates for them here talk of a kind of "underground railroad" that has developed south of the border to help war resisters make their way north.
Ever since the
Vietnam War, many Americans have viewed Canada as a liberal oasis, ready to welcome those who no longer want to take part in Uncle Sam's wars. But the reality is more complicated these days, especially with the conservative Harper government in power since 2006. Although the Canadian people are still largely welcoming, some war resisters say they have faced hostility here. And all of them who are seeking refugee status to remain in the country face complex legal obstacles, according to experts on Canada's refugee laws. Meanwhile, the alleged cooperation between Canadian and U.S. law enforcement authorities to track them down raises thorny legal questions of its own.
Speaking by phone recently from an undisclosed location in the Canadian prairies, Key told Salon that he generally feels safe in Canada, although he said one person threatened to "put him on a boat and take him back to the U.S." and another told him that his daughter "deserved to be shot in the head." He said that he was unnerved after he heard about Snyder's arrest in B.C. in February. "After what I saw in Iraq," he said, "I know that a snatch-and-grab operation doesn't take long."

It would be illegal under Canadian law for U.S. officials to make an arrest on Canadian soil, according to Audrey Macklin, a professor at the University of Toronto Law School. "U.S. law enforcement officers have no jurisdiction here," she said. The picture gets murkier, however, with the prospect of Canadian police working on behalf of U.S. officials. "Sometimes officials cooperate in cross-border criminal investigations," Macklin said. But the incidents involving Snyder and Key, she said, didn't strike her as typical cross-border cooperation. "It's sheer conjecture on my part, but I do wonder if it is more about intimidation."

Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" (Salon) breaks the silence on what's been going on. Or the silence in this country. We should also remember that while this was going on, the best the New York Times could do was offer PvZ's laughable attempt to distort self-check outs and manage public opinion. Give Levey and Salon credit for covering what no US outlet wanted to touch.

Let's turn to the Times for today's misreporting:

Three American soldiers were killed in combat operations in the capital on Wednesday and two were wounded, according to a statement from the military, on a day when thousands more troops arrived in the country.

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "3 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Baghdad; New Army Reinforcements Arrive" in this morning's New York Times and that much she gets right. In what must be the joke of the day, Rubin notes 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Wednesday and adds "a higher number than has been typical for the past several weeks". We'll assume Rubin's trying to be the Joan Rivers of the Green Zone because the other alternative is she thinks she can get away with misreporting (or "lying" as some less charitable would call it). We've covered the paper's undercount for some time. Most recently, see Tuesday's snapshot:

What would you think if the news wasn't covered . . . Over 655,000 Iraqis have died in the illegal war. Many Americans, when polled recently, were grossly off in their estimation of the Iraqi death toll. This month, a dumb idiot pinned the blame for that on the peace movement. Addressing the same poll when it was still in the news, Peter Hart (CounterSpin) rightly noted the blame goes to the media. We saw that play out on the small scale today. The New York Times attempted to press their undercount yet again claiming that, on Monday, "bombs and mortars killed at least 22 Iraqis." Over fifty were reported dead on Monday from bombs and mortars. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today: "Meanwhile at least 102 Iraqis died on Monday alone including more than 30 in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite funeral." Goodman's referring to the Baghdad bombing. From yesterday's snapshot:
Dean Yates (Reuters) reports a Baghdad funeral today was the site of a bombing as a man blew himself and at least 32 other people up via "a vest packed with explosives" CBS and AP report: "Police said the bomber detonated his explosives about 6:30 p.m. inside a tent where people were mourning a 60-year-old man from a Shiite family in Khalis, a flashpoint Shiite enclave in Diyala province, where U.S.-Iraqi forces have seen fierce fighting with Sunni and Shiite militants." That appears to be the highest toll from a single bombing today; however, there were many other bombings in Iraq.
More than 30 -- in one bombing -- somehow becomes "at least 23" in today's New York Times. The same Times' piece, Alissa J. Rubin states that 9 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The true answer was 27. When over 50 becomes "at least 22" when 27 corpses becomes 9, don't point to the peace movement. Peter Hart was right, the problem is the media and the New York Times undercounting is only one more examples of the media failure. (It should also be stated that when you go on a radio program and wrongly smear the peace movement -- as a 'friend,' you understand -- you should know your figures and to be 5,000 off the number reported in The Lancet study is embarrassing for anyone -- especially so for a mathematician.)

27 is only 3 higher but Monday's 27 corpses were reported in the Times (by Rubin) as 9. The count that's higher this morning is actually the paper's. The count gets underreported, important stories don't get covered. And we're not talking about four weeks after the illegal war started, we're talking about four years after. Let's not pretend the reporting has gotten significantly better.

Why is Salon breaking the story to most Americans? Well All Things Media Big and Small decided to take a pass on it as part of their continued silence on the topic of war resisters. It hasn't been ignored in Canada where people, whether they support war resisters or not, are bothered by it due to the implications that the US can order Canada around (and Canada will go along with it). Of all the outlets, the New York Times could offer the best excuse because when you can't even get the reported numbers right, and they frequently can't, no one probably expects too much out of you. Numbers the AP, Reuters, AFP and McClatchy Newspapers regularly report the day before they make it into print in the Times are frequently 'trimmed' when they make into print in the paper of record. Are they filing early? Are they undercounting on purpose?

The paper helped sell the war (Miller, Dexy, Gordo . . .) so that could explain a lot. But today Salon breaks the silence on a story that others should have. In terms of The Nation, people should wonder about that. (Just as they should wonder why The Nation thinks it's acceptable, in 2007, to print 4 men for every woman.) We get a lot of nonsense and silly chatter from The Nation. (As well as racist piece recently.) We get a 'book review' that's nothing but dusty off old stereotypes (from the 19th century!) of women as 'emotional' not 'rational'. But we're not getting reality. The latest issue focuses on Cuba, the week prior? Wasn't it the green issue? We've had the food issue. We can get any 'hot' topic except the war itself. As The Nation continues to devote entire issues to one topic, people might start to wonder why it is that the magazine which offers a fiery editorial on the illegal war every two years can't devote an issue to the illegal war? They might want to ask themselves why the 'leading' magazine (a weekly) of the left couldn't tackle the story that Salon has.

We've covered it here many times (for instance here). In addition, you can see The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Editorial: The wrath of the jealous 'Big Boys'," "Editorial: Shameful" and "The Stateside Army Book Club" for starters. It wasn't a secret. It's been in the Canadian papers, it's been covered on Canadian radio. Give Salon credit for breaking the silence but ask yourselves why other outlets refused to step up?

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