Monday, May 28, 2007

War resistance and discontent

One morning in late February, Canadian police arrived at a house in the small town of Nelson, B.C., and arrested Kyle Snyder, a U.S. soldier who had gone AWOL from the army. Snyder, a former combat engineer who left the United States in April 2005 to avoid deployment for a second tour in Iraq, was detained for several hours but never charged with a crime. It remains unclear why he was arrested.
Local police said they were told to detain Snyder by the Canadian Border Services Agency but acknowledged that the immigration agency was not their "original source" for information on Snyder. In fact, Snyder was released after a Canadian immigration official contacted the local police and informed them there was no basis for Snyder's detention. After he was back home, Snyder said he was told by Josie Perry, the Canadian immigration official who ordered his release, that his arrest had come at the behest of officials from the U.S. army.

A few weeks later, in Toronto, three men wearing trench coats knocked at the home of Winnie Ng, a Canadian resident who harboured an American soldier named Joshua Key. Key, who'd also been a combat engineer, went AWOL from the army in 2003 after serving in Iraq.

The above, noted by Vic, is from Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure" (The Ottawa Citizen). Vic notes he believes he's seen it before. It's the Salon article from the start of the month (first noted here on May 3rd.) Worth noting again, especially as every other outlet played dumb about it in the United States (you saw no write ups, you heard no interviews). On war resistance, I wanted to highlight something from the Los Angeles Times today. From Gregory Rodriguez' "Amnesty isn't a dirty word:"

In 1947, President Truman issued pardons to 1,500 World War II draft resisters. A few years later, he granted amnesty to 9,000 deserters from the Korean War. A generation later, in 1974, Ford offered a conditional amnesty to men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. In 1977, in one of his first acts as president, Jimmy Carter granted draft evaders a "full, complete and unconditional pardon." His act was meant to put the divisions and antagonisms of the war behind us.

The columns about immigration (I support amnesty for immigrants, by the way) but we're noting that because Rodrigquez is one of the few people who knows/remembers what happened. Ford's was conditional with hoops and maybe you would and maybe you wouldn't get amnesty. Carter gave amnesty to all who resisted the draft. (He failed by not also granting amnesty for those who self-checked out.) Again, a guest on Democracy Now! -- for whatever reason -- muddied the waters and Ford was hailed for something he didn't do and is still being hailed as a result.

Staying on the topic of war resistance, Carl had a highlight on the topic and I was wondering what we could excerpt (there's a lot worth excerpting) when I saw Carl's note at the bottom. We can excerpt the entire thing. Workers World allows that as long as you link and note their copyright. I did not know that, so thanks to Carl for noting that at the bottom of his e-mail. This is John Catalinotto's "Dissent spreads through U.S. military ranks" (Workers World):

Growing anger over the U.S. war in Iraq and growing understanding that the occupation is a complete failure are spreading through all ranks of the U.S. military. This dissidence shows itself in different ways among the rank-and-file troops and among the lifers and officers. But from an increase of angry letters to anti-war publications like GI Special to an increase of courts-martial, the signs of resistance are growing.
On May 18, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz was sentenced after having been found guilty by a U.S. Navy court-martial of what the Navy considered a serious crime. While he faced a possible 14 years in prison, the 19-year Navy veteran’s sentence was six months confinement with pay and removal from the Navy, the officer equivalent of a less-than-honorable discharge.
Diaz was last assigned to investigate alleged abuses of prisoners at Guantánamo, that piece of Cuban territory the U.S. still occupies illegally. Washington has held prisoners of war grabbed in Afghanistan in 2002 and others it considers "terrorists" for the past four-five years at Guantánamo under concentration-camp conditions.
Following orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. had flouted international law and refused to release the names of the prisoners. Some legal scholars consider Rumsfeld guilty of war crimes for issuing these orders. Diaz, concerned about this abuse of human rights, sent, along with a Valentine's card in February 2005, a list of the names of those prisoners to civil liberty attorneys in New York.
"My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States,’’ Diaz said. “I’m not a criminal. I had observed the stonewalling, the obstacles we continued to place in the way of the attorneys,"’ Diaz told the media before his sentencing. "I knew my time was limited. .... I had to do something."’
Many, perhaps a majority even here in the U.S., would consider Diaz a hero for doing that something. (See
Regarding other heroic military resisters, Spc. 4 Augustín Aguilar was recently released from military prison in Germany and returned to his home in California on May 10. He had been held eight months as a prisoner of conscience after he had gone AWOL as part of his refusal to redeploy to Iraq.
According to the group Courage to Resist (, Aguilar since May 10, "has shared his story of resistance at community gatherings in Sacramento, Carmel, and San Francisco. Highlights of Agustín’s first week as an anti-war activist also included presentations to day laborers, farm workers and their families in Stockton, and high school and college students in Watsonville."
Far from being isolated or ostracized for his anti-war action, Aguilar was welcomed into a community of war resisters that includes Robert Zebala, Pablo Paredes and Camilo Mejía along with many Iraq war veterans who are now speaking out at anti-war gatherings and who get a popular reception.
Another war resister, Lt. Ehren Watada, whose court-martial is still pending after the military unilaterally decided to declare his first trial a mistrial last February, has now had the court-martial postponed once more. At first scheduled for June 23 at Ft. Lewis, the trial is now on hold until it is determined if re-starting the trial would mean that Watada faced "double jeopardy." It is still possible that the Army will be forced to drop charges on Lt. Watada, the first officer to refuse duty in Iraq.
New trial at Fort Drum
A soldier in the 10th Mountain Division, a unit whose home base is Fort Drum in upstate New York and which is now breaking into homes in Baghdad, is facing a bad conduct discharge and a year in prison for going AWOL. On May 16 the Army announced that Spc. Eugene Cherry’s court-martial will begin June 25. Cherry has medical documentation that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He says he is being court-martialed because he went home to Chicago for help after the Army failed to provide him with adequate treatment.
"They don't want the liability so they deny I have a problem, and because I tried to help myself, now they want to make me a criminal," Spc. Eugene Cherry said in a telephone interview from Fort Drum with the Associated Press.
Cherry told his doctor that during his tour in Iraq as a medic, the most disturbing event he witnessed happened when an Army ordnance team tried to blow up a minivan it found loaded with explosives and flammables. The explosion flattened a three-story apartment building nearby, injuring residents. Cherry tried to help an Iraqi woman he found face down. When he turned her over, he found half her face was blown off. That's when the bad dreams and depression started, Cherry says. (See
Horror at the war and U.S. actions aren’t the only forces driving military dissidence. There is also the realization that the U.S. is losing the war.
Some U.S. officers in Iraq assigned to work with puppet Iraqi troops have objected to the troops’ arresting Iraqi civilians who apparently had committed no crime, nor had they even committed an act that the U.S. occupiers could consider a crime. One U.S. officer was recently reprimanded by a U.S. general when he released 35 prisoners he believed had been arrested without good reason.
Some of these U.S. officers consider the imprisonment of innocent civilians a war crime they want no responsibility for. Plus they consider it counter-productive.
Even the admiral has misgivings
Some of the top officers, who normally have no trouble ordering strategic bombing strikes that will cause hundreds of thousands of casualties, and who certainly have no moral compunctions about starting a war, are beginning to balk at following Bush administration leadership. An Inter Press Service story released May 19 reports that Admiral William Fallon, chief of CENTCOM and a Bush appointee himself, expressed "strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking."
According to this unnamed source, Fallon said that he was not alone, and that, "There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box." This statement, publicized a week after Vice President Dick Cheney threatened war with Iran from the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Gulf off the coast of that country, and about the same time that Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz was forced to resign from heading the World Bank, has the ring of truth even if there is no easy way of checking it.
Fallon is a loyal officer of U.S. imperialism, whose class interests and privileges are tied to U.S. military domination of the world. His words--assuming the IPS report is true--reflect the skepticism among the ruling class for the Bush administration’s leadership. They reflect the impact of four years of heroic Iraqi resistance that has stalemated the U.S. attempt to dominate that country.
In a different way, the Iraqi resistance has stimulated the honest dissidence and refusal to participate in war crimes expressed by the lower ranking officers and enlisted persons. The signs that this dissidence is growing and spreading in the Armed Forces are the best news for those who want to end the ugly and criminal occupation of Iraq.
Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Resistance within the military is a growing movement that includes Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

And on the front page of the New York Times this morning, growing discontent is noted. From
Michael Kamber's "As Allies Turn Foe, Disillusion Rises in Some G.I.'s:"

Staff Sgt. David Safstrom does not regret his previous tours in Iraq, not even a difficult second stint when two comrades were killed while trying to capture insurgents.
"In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place," he said. "There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome."
But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.
"I thought: 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?'" said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."
His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness.

For the record, unlike the Teen Queen and the War Pornographer, Kamber doesn't present this as a scientific study or the opinions of all or even a majority. Meanwhile Iraq Veterans Against the War continue to bring the war home:

NYC Operation First Casualty a Success!
"By reenacting what we've been through in Iraq we hope to inspire more of our fellow Americans to act to end the war now," said IVAW member Adam Kokesh. Actual veterans of the conflict in Iraq played their part of American service members, dramatically interacting with non-veteran supporters playing civilians. In full uniform IVAW members performed searches, detentions, squad patrol, and crowd control operations in locations that included Central Park, Times Square, Union Square and Grand Army Plaza...
Click here to see photos of this action.
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Click here for more IVAW Updates

I was planning on two entries today. Molly has a highlight. I was commenting on it and it's taking this an entirely different direction. So I'm doing three entries this morning.

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