After years of bouncing between foster homes and youth homes, Lee Brenizer thought he'd found a home in the United States Army.
"It was seriously the best thing I ever did, joining the Army," said Brenizer, a 2005 Dixon High School graduate.
However, the private's love affair with the Army ended in December 2006, when he left his post at Fort Stewart, Ga., and his name was entered into a FBI national criminal database, labeling him a deserter.
He is not alone.
Soldiers are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980. The number of Army deserters has increased 80 percent since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, according to a survey conducted by the Associated Press.
I've debated whether or not to make that opening. I'm tired but wasn't in need of a bedtime story. It's from Olvia Cobiskey's "Man returned to military after deserting" (Sauk Valley Newspapers) and it's a masterful work of mistatement. Lee Brenizer doesn't claim to be a war resister in the article, so we won't classify him as such. But we do follow the arrests for AWOL and desertion. You have to follow closely through Cobiskey's article because there are so many mistatements. You're almost done with her article before you learn, oh, by the way, he went AWOL over a year before and was arrested at a bus station. (We'll get back to the arrest.) Someone going AWOL twice and being arrested for it twice isn't a detail you bring after forty paragraphs. To read the above, you think this person isn't a war resister (apparently he isn't) and that he checked out once. Then you read on, through tales of high school and a bad romance and find out he was arrested before. In fact, you actually have to stop when that pops up and ask yourself: "What? I thought he was arrested at a friend's house." Then you scroll back up and learn he was. He was also arrested (the previous time he checked out) at a bus station. In fact, you may scratch your head trying to figure out if there were two AWOLs until you read him being quoted, "So I left again."
Let's talk the arrests. Here's what the article tells you: "As a result, the Pentagon does little more than enter their names into the FBI database." Not true. It's a shame an actual reporter wasn't working on the story because she or he may have thought to ask questions. The second arrest (the one she opens with despite it not being the first) follows a traffic stop in his friend's car. The friend ran a stop sign, Brenizer attempts to give a fake name (why was the passenger in a car that ran a stop sign being asked their name?) and Brenizer panics and runs off. Now a real reporter wouldn't have just sprinkled in a detail later. They would have asked, "Well if he wasn't caught when he was running off, what happened?" You're told what happened was, several days later, he was arrested at the home of a friend ("three days later"). The story tells you that most "like Brenizer, get caught by exposing themselves in some way by breaking a civilian law, or applying for a passport or job that requires a background check. Others decide to turn themselves in." Forget that nonsense in the last sentence (which implies there are only three ways that they are arrested), Brenizer didn't break a law. He was a passenger. He ran off. That's really not something that, by itself, is going to land you in prison. So Brenizer fled in a panic (he was not the driver, there was no car accident, just a moving violation). Exactly how did he end up arrested, three days later, at a friend's house? Are we supposed to believe that the police officer, like some Burt Reynolds movie, was in hot pursuit of Brenizer for three days, tires squealing throughout? It makes no sense. And a real reporter would have asked a few questions. Did his friends turn him in? If not, why did the police show up at the friend's house? Those are questions that don't enter into the fantasy world that the reporter inhabits. That's his arrest last month.
The other arrest was "more than a year" ago but facts like when (forget date, not even a month is offered) escape the reporter. But he was arrested -- and this is the first arrest even though the fairy tale's almost concluded when the reporter thinks it's worth mentioning -- at a bus station. Note this about his aunt:
Trying to help, she called Brenizer's unit to negotiate a grace period. She bought him a ticket to Georgia and dropped him off at the bus station in Rockford, but it was too late.
"He was defiantly going back. I had talked to his sergeant. (The sergeant) knew he was coming back," Swanson said.
Before Brenizer could board the bus, the Rockford police arrested him and turned him over to military police, who transported him back to Fort Stewart.
What follows is he returns to base and finds he's been "burglarized" and it's time to ship to Iraq but he's not "prepared" and he explains, "So I left again." That left again is the second AWOL, the one that leads to the arrest the reporter opens her fairy tale with -- where he runs off a after his friend's stopped for running a stop sign. If I'm repeating that overly it's mainly because I'm trying to reassure myself that there were two AWOLs and there were two arrests because it's hard to believe a reporter could 'report' so badly.
But the other arrest, the first one. Where his aunt called the sergeant. A real reporter might provide some details. For instance, why did the police arrest him? Had he done anything? Were they tipped off? Did the military screw him over (as they recently did Brad Gaskins) and decide, even though they knew he was turning himself in, that they'd arrest him?
A real reporter would ask those questions. I have no idea what to make of the article. It's like fishing for shrimp in a pot of gumbo. You find something and it's interesting but there's all this other stuff around it in the way.
And I honestly keep wondering if people are going to use the link and e-mail to explain how I mixed it up, how she's actually talking of the same arrest (if there wasn't the comment by Brenizer "So I left again" I would still be wondering). This is the most confusing and most ill shaped article I've read and, please note, I read the New York Times every day. (A little joke at the paper's expense.)
We've noted before that when someone in military custody is paraded out, take any statement they make with a grain of salt. They're facing punishment so they may attempt to play off a serious objection to the illegal war. I'm mentioning that because, by the article, Brenizer isn't a war resister (he states he wants the military to keep him).
What we do have is two arrests reported. In the first arrest, he was at the bus station, about to board a bus to return to base and his commanding officer knew that. Why he was arrested or how? We don't learn. In the second arrest (the one last month), he ran off when his friend was pulled over for running a stop sign and, three days later, he was arrested at the home of a friend. How or why? We don't learn. It's really past time for the press to stop printing these type of reports. Throughout the illegal war, there have been some dogged local reporters across the country who have reported that the police arrested after the military called them with a tip, for instance. But the bulk of the press (especially true of the mainstream) refuses to ask the basic questions and instead prints the lie that the US military just enters your name into a data base. They seem completely unaware that there are units that do nothing all day but attempt to find out information about people who have checked out, visit websites (MySpace is very popular for tracking by the military -- one wonders whether that's due to MySpace's owner?).
This article repeats the lie and that's especially appalling since the reporter is not covering one arrest, she's covering two.
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3871. Tonight? 3882 announced. And, FYI, the latest announcements have come not from MNF but from the Defense Department. 1,118,846 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,122,406.
Earlier we noted this:
On Thursday, car bombs were said to be discovered in the compound of a member of the Iraqi parliament. On Friday, the member was under house arrest and his protection forces and his son were carted away. A spokesperson for him denied Friday that the bomb or bombs were discovered inside the compound and stated Adnan al-Dulaimi was innocent. Got that? Today Tavernise and Farrell report that the "the largest Sunni Arab bloc, the Iraqi Consensus Front, walked out of Parliament to protest what it described as a move by Iraqi security forces to place its leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, under house arrest."
Ali al-Fadhily has another one of his information packed reports. They're always a joy to read but a pain to summarize in a snapshot due to the fact that they cover so much. By noting the thing above, we should all be on the same page of the basics and al-Fahily also covers the Shi'ite ruling side (which is what the mainstream media has largely been covering without noting it is the Shi'ite ruling side). This is al-Fadhily offering some other takes on the situation in "Government Fragments Further" (IPS):
Doctor Adnan Al-Dulaimi is a well known academic in Iraq and the whole Islamic world," his nephew Laurance Al-Dulaimi told IPS, "He worked hard to establish peace in Iraq and he exposed himself to threats by al-Qaeda by joining the political operation in Iraq."
"It is unfair that he is rewarded with such cheap accusations by those cheap corrupt officials and politicians," the nephew added. Dulaimi has been targeted many times by Iraqi resistance fighters, but they failed to assassinate him. He has insisted upon keeping his house and office in the Sunni neighbourhood that was controlled by resistance fighters rather than moving to the Green Zone where he would have had better protection. Sunni observers talked to IPS about the arrests, and expressed other opinions.
"This man was one of the reasons that the Shi’ite Coalition controlled the situation in Iraq the way they do now and he deserves what is happening to him," Omar Mahmood, a lawyer who is close to the Iraqi Association of Muslim Scholars led by Harith Al Dhari, told IPS in Baghdad, "He drew Sunnis to be cheap cover for the faked political operation that helped American occupation have routes in Sunni areas."
An Iraqi resistance fighter spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity.
"The poor old guy sacrificed his faith and reputation for a cheap chair in the parliament and now they are throwing him into the garbage can like used Kleenex tissue," the man told IPS in Baghdad, "We always advised him that the Islamic Party and the Shi’ite Coalition would definitely get rid of him as soon as he is no more needed, but he listened to his pocket more than listening to the voice of reason."
Maliki has ordered the fifth brigade of the Iraqi Army to "guard" Al-Dulaimy’s house.
"My father is detained in our house and my brother Makki is being tortured so that he gives any information that could lead to convicting my father," one of Al-Dulaimi’s several sons, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS, "My father’s life is threatened and so is my brother’s life and the other guards. These army people hate us and they might do anything. We find Maliki and the Americans responsible for anything that might happen to our father."
So there's a variety of views and you haven't seen them in the US mainstream media. In the snapshot tomorrow, thinking as I type, I'll probably go with the son (because it's a family member) and the resistance fighter since they're so rarely noted by the media. But just reading that excerpt, you can tell it's jam packed with information. al-Fadhily is really working like crazy to report reality from Iraq. Reuters reports that Adnan al-Dulaimi is no longer confined to his home but has been taken (by the "National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie") to a hotel in the Green Zone and, in another report, quotes al-Dulaimi announcing, "Since this house arrest has been lifted, the Accordance Front will return to sessions of parliament."
And staying with reality in Iraq, let's turn to some of the reported violence.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bomb claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left four others wounded today, in the continued targeting of officials "the general director of religious education in the Shiite endowment" (Ammar Musa Taha al Mosawi) was targeted with "a bomb planted" in his car which claimed the life of 1 other person and left three ("including Mosawi") wounded, a Falluja roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi solider and left four more wounded, fourteen people were wounded in a Baquba car bombing that "targeted the directorate of Baquba municipality" and a Baquba mortar attack that wounded five people. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed the lives of 8 police officers, another left two people wounded, a car bombing claimed 1 life and left four more people wounded. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 US service member and left three more wounded (and that on Friday a Baquba roadside bombing claimed the life of one US service member). On Saturday and Sunday that's 16 reported deaths from bombings just from those outlets.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports police Col. Aqueel Abdul Hussein was shot dead on his way "to his office in the morning" today. Turning to Saturday, McClatchy's Kadhim reports 3 people were shot dead in Babil with five more kidnapped ("including Sheikh Mizhir al Azawi"). Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports "at least 20 people" were shot dead in the Diayla province on Saturday (and notes the recent attacks mass attacks in Diyal including a bombing that claimed the lives of 7 people, another that left five Iraqis and seven US service members wounded and a November 18th bombing that claimed the lives of 3 US service members). That's 24 reported shot dead on Saturday and Sunday from just those outlets.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. Reuters reports a mass grave containing 20 corpses was discovered outside Falluja. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghad and 1 in Salahuddin. Reuters notes that on Saturday, 3 corpses were discovered in Mosul. That's 35 corpses reported discovered on Saturday and Sunday just from those outlets.
And we're not done yet, hold on for beheadings.
In addition, McClatchy's Kadhim reports, "Sunday afternoon, three princes of Al-Qaeda proposed to three women in Al-Bu Aziz village of Dali Abass ( 30 km north of Baquba) .The princes beheaded the three women after they refused the proposal." That's 3 women beheaded on Sunday.
Our grand total for reported deaths (from the outlets noted) on Saturday and Sunday? 78 people dead.
Turning to the US, Brady notes "Students and Iraq Veterans Engage in Non-Violent Civil Disobedience to Launch 'Out of Our Schools--Out of Iraq' Campaign Action Targets Military Recruitment Office in Williston, Vermont to Demand an End to Military Recruiters Preying on Students and an End to the Occupations of Iraq" (Common Dreams, it's a press release so we're running it in full):
VERMONT - November 30 - Students from the Mt. Mansfield Union High School (MMU) Peace Club unite with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Vermont's impassioned anti-war community to engage in non-violent civil disobedience and hold a rally at the Military Recruitment Office at 166 Sycamore St. in Williston, VT, to protest the insidious and pervasive presence of military recruiters preying on our young people in our public schools, and the unjust, immoral and merciless occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the heels of a campaign launched earlier this week from the halls of MMU, the crowd on Friday will unite under the banner, "Out of Our Schools -- Out of Iraq," which in part "calls upon high school students to learn about and use non-violent civil disobedience to intervene directly in all institutions that are waging this war. Now is the time for students to do this as it becomes increasingly obvious our government, our parents and our teachers will not do it for us," MMU student Phoebe Pritchett explains.
"Military recruiters have had unfettered access to our schools and our personal, private information for too long. We demand an immediate end to this war based on lies and deception, and that our schools shut their doors permanently to the military. We are done doing push-ups in the hallway for a free t-shirt today, and a flag sent home to our parents tomorrow," says Emily Coon of the MMU Peace Club.
Those gathering, while determined to see that no one is recruited into the military in Williston today, will also directly engage in educating the community about the truths of recruitment and military service. "Every day, all across this country, there are military recruiters lying to persuade young people to sign up for the military," says Dottye Ricks, a member of Military Families Speak Out.
"Our schools should be hallowed halls of education, not stores of cannon fodder for war." adds Matt Howard, Iraq Veteran and member of IVAW.
At the rally the names of 33 Vermonters and an estimated 1 million Iraq casualties will be read in order to remember the massive and devastating death tolls caused by this totally unnecessary war.
"Out of Our Schools -- Out of Iraq," is a campaign that will not end in Williston today, organizers are clear that Vermont's anti-war community will continue to challenge the war and the military coercion of our youth even more directly in the future.
Contact MMU Students: Phoebe Pritchett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 598-6721, Emily Coon at email@example.com or (802) 373-4641. Contact IVAW's Matt Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 343-1181, and Dottye Ricks of MFSO at email@example.com, or (802) 522-4703 or (802) 476-0942.
Two more things, first up, Pru notes "World Against War conference: messages from international activists" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):
The international World Against War conference will bring together delegates from five continents. Ibrahim Mousawi, the former editor from Lebanon’s pro-resistance Al-Manar TV station, and Brigitte Ostmeyer of Germany's Die Linke tell Socialist Worker why they will be attending the conference.
'This world is full of injustices -- oppression, occupation, criminal wars and warmongers. Governments and leaders are attempting to mislead their people and the whole world.
Do we have to remind ourselves that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction – the reason that the US used to attack and occupy the country, while killing more than a million people?
Do we need to remind the world about the daily Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians, atrocities for which the US provides a green light, political cover, military supplies and a UN veto to sabotage any attempt to condemn Israeli atrocities?
I believe that as activists in our peace groups we should not leave questions of leadership to the politicians. We have seen the results when we do.
We have a duty to stop them unleashing slaughter on more countries and peoples.
We have a duty to put forward our definitions of what constitutes "terrorism" -- ones that comply with the international law and the doctrine of human rights, not ones that will please the criminals in suits and their high ranking governmental positions.
I believe we can bring people together, not only to talk, but to work hard for peace. We have to know that we are all brothers and sisters, and that we should fight oppression and occupation.
I believe we should develop common goals and a plan to achieve them. After all, we all have the right to live in peace and with dignity.
I believe that people have the power to achieve a lot, and that their tasks are too important to be left in the hands of politicians.
We have a job to do and we will do it.
In Germany the Left Party is the only party that is strictly pacifistic and
of course against the "war on terror" -- you cannot fight "terror" by military means.
We believe that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved.
For instance the Left Party tried to convince our parliament to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.
Together with the peace movement we organised a collection of signatures and a peace demonstration in Berlin against the occupation of Afghanistan in which about 15,000 people participated.
I believe that it is important to get together with as many activists and peace movements as possible to plan further actions against the wars all over the world.
Only together might we have a chance in our non violent fight for peace.
Go to » www.stopwar.org.uk
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And Prensa Latina reports that in Guatemala, at the Tenth Icaro Central American Film and Video Festival, Querido Camilo "won the first prize" -- "The film tells the story of Camilo Mejia, who refused to serve in the US Army to attack the Iraqi people".
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and the war drags on
the washington post