Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Other Items

Linjamin Mull wanted to pay off his college debt by joining the United States army. But he found out he had to work it off by invading family homes in Afghanistan.
"I'd hoped to join aviation because it'd be so far removed from having blood on my hands," said Mull, a 32-year-old war resister who fled to Canada last year from New York City. "I told them that specifically.
"What I got was house raids. If it's this crazy with them, what else would happen once I got over there?"
Mull and more than 500 others crammed St. Paul's church on Bloor St. W. yesterday afternoon to put pressure, once again, on the government to pull Canadian troops out of Afghanistan.
Toronto's rally was just one of the 20 held nationwide yesterday on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.

The above is from Jenny Yuen's "Rallys urge troops' return" (Toronto Sun) and Vince noted it on Sunday. It and the below excerpt, noted by Martha, were held for today because the focus was IVAW. From Tamara Jones' "Beyond the Border of War: In Canada, Deserters Find an Uncertain Haven, And Aid From an Earlier Generation That Fled" (Washington Post):

Lee Zaslofsky bustles from pew to pew, an anxious organizer making sure everyone is in place on a recent Saturday -- the politicians and academics, the musicians, the pacifists, and a handful of runaway American soldiers seeking refuge in Canada.
Zaslofsky, 63, knows each of the latter by both name and need. There is Jeremy Hinzman, the first one to seek asylum here, in limbo for four years now. And Phil McDowell, the computer geek whose patriotism was put to the test in Baghdad. And Patrick Hart, the veteran worried about lost medical benefits for his sick son. All found their way to Zaslofsky and the quasi-underground network he runs for AWOL Americans crossing the border with little more than what they can fit in a duffel bag.
"You should know, I do love you," he assures each one. "I'm a Vietnam resister."
Across Canada, the remnants of a lost counterculture are rising up again as hundreds of aging draft dodgers reluctantly leave the quiet comforts of their anonymous lives to help an estimated 200 Iraq war deserters who fled north with no promise of asylum.

[. . .]
"You're being stop-lossed!"
Phil McDowell tried to absorb his wife's frantic news in June 2006 that the Army was rescinding his discharge. Iraq had left him unsettled, angry. When his military tour was over, he had come to the mountains to clear his head, stopping to call Jamime from the Appalachian Trail. Now a letter from his commander was waiting at home, and McDowell later learned that the Army could essentially reinstate him for nearly two more years' active duty.
He was enraged. He had fulfilled his obligation. Why wasn't his government honoring its side of the bargain?
"I tried contacting senators and congressmen. I tried to contact civilian military lawyers, but they all said the time frame was too short," McDowell recalls. He offered to stay in the Army "and not do war," but was told no such deal could be made.

As noted, our focus was on Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation which suffered from a media blackout in Real Media and Panhandle Media with very few exceptions. We're not done noting Winter Soldier. At OpEdNews, Elaine Brower continues her coverage of Winter Soldier:

I went into Day 2, where the testimony began at 9 AM with "Rules of Engagement". Speakers from the Army and Marine Corps., some IVAW members I have known for the last few years, recounted the atrocities that they not only witnessed but participated in. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested can listen online at www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier. About halfway into that panel, I lost my objectivity. The stories they were telling about the breakdown of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) they learned while training at boot camp, or on a military base "back home", were the same stories of ROE breakdown as what I had heard from my son. I began sobbing with cameras and notepad in hand, and couldn’t stop. The photographs they were showing on the 5 viewing screens of bloodied bodies torn apart by close gunfire, 50 cal. machine guns, rocket launchers, and every other damn weapon our great military industrial complex has created, were all too familiar to me. When my son returned home from both war zones, he was eager to share his stories and pictures.
I could not fathom my son, who I raised to be a Catholic, took him to Sunday school, where he received communion and confirmation, had not only been a participant in such horrors, but had pictures to prove it. I immediately told him that I would not listen to his stories or look at those pictures. He could speak with his father. My response may seem to many as being hard on my son, who only wanted to unload what he was feeling on his mother. But I couldn’t come to terms with it then, and now.
Watching and listening to the testimony made me very ill. Here were these young men and women, handsomely dressed, some wearing medals, talking about ROE in a war zone, which started out following the manual, and dwindled into what Jason Hurd called "Operation Fan & Fury." This is when you shot anyone who is in your area that is holding a cell phone, carrying anything, whether it is groceries, and a shovel, carrying a white flag, holding binoculars, or just looking a bit suspicious to the particular soldier or marine that is on watch. And the orders were "take 'em out!" The Rules of Engagement, as stated by Garrett Rapenhagen were "a joke and disgrace, and ever changing."
I knew that was the case because I had heard it back home from my son. He told me he had to survive, he had to protect his buddies, and all come home alive. They didn't know who the enemy was, so they would just "blast them away." The marines are taught that. That is why they send them into a war zone first. They shot and don’t even ask questions. Their motto is "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out!"

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.