Sunday, July 06, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

The Canadian Press notes the finding of Judge Robert Barnes of Canada's Federal Court, issued Friday, which found that, contrary to the Immigration and Refugee 'Board''s opinion, "Officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection." ["Board" because the full committee does not hear the claims or the appeals, one person does.] The individual's case under review was Joshua Key who stated, "It's quite a statement."

Earlier Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey who were the first US war resisters to go to Canada this decade and attempt to receive refugee status. In refusing to hear their appeals, the Court allowed the lower courtss findings to stand. Key was among those cases of appeal winding their way through the Canadian court system following the Immigration and Refugee 'Board' turning down his claim for asylum. Judge Barnes' decision does not reverse the finding of the 'Board,' it merely requires that it re-examine the decision (and the 'board' has ten days to appeal to decision).

The War Resisters Support Campaign has issued a press release and appear to have left out a word or too when offering Jeffry House's legal summary of the judge's opinion: "summarized the decision saying that the court found that Key was required to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions as part of his military service in Iraq and that he was justified in doing so." Something's missing before "and that he was justified in doing so."

Judge Barnes did not find that anyone was justified in violating the Geneva Conventions. A better take would be House "summarized the decision saying that the court found that Key was required to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions as part of his military servince in Iraq and that was justified in REFUSING to do so." Without "refusing" in there, the summary makes no sense and does not reflect either Judge Barnes' legal opinion issued Friday or what he can legally do.

Barnes' opinion rests on recognized, acceptable legal human behaviors, it does not reject Geneva, it does note that Geneva Conventions but it also notes other standards (and states the standards the "Board" used were "too restrictive"). He did not find that someone "was justified" in violating Geneva. He did find that someone could be justified in refusing any action that was "contrary to the basic rules of norms of human conduct." Barnes found that the "Board" had issued a decision which stated that there were "violations of the Geneva Convention prohibition against humilitary and degrading treatment".

From Barnes' decision, "The authorities indicate that military action which systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates eitehr combatants or non-combatants is capable of supporting a refugee claim where that is proven reason for refusing to serve." The decision does cite Hinzman's case (Hinzman v. Canada, 2006) as well as the Immigration and Refugee Board's findings on Jeremy's claim:

It is apparent to me that the Board in Hinzman did not have before it the kind of evidence that was presented by Mr. Key and, therefore, neither the Board nor Justice [Anne] Mactavish were required in that case to determine the precise limits of protection afforded by Article 171 of the UNHCR Handbook. I do not consider Justice Mactavish's remarks to be determative of the issue presented by this case -- that is, whether refugee protection is available for persons like Mr. Key who would be expected to participate in widespread and arguably officially sanctioned breaches of humanitarian law which do not constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Judge Barnes points out that if Key had returned the US military any review (by the US military) would have been unlikely ("may not have been realistic") because he would have been deployed back to Iraq.

From the decision:

In November, 2003, Mr. Key returned to the United States on a 2-week furlough. He was then suffering from debilitating nightmares. Instead of reporting back to his unit, Pte. Key anonymously sought legal advice from a Judge Advocate General (JAG) representative who apparently told him to return to duty in Iraq or face imprisonment. Pte. Key elected to desert and he and his family relocated to Philadelphia. On March 8, 2005, the family came to Canada and they initiated their claims for refugee protection three days later." The justice further found, "The idea that a refugee claimant in such circumstances ought to be returned to his home country to face such a dilemma is repugnant and inimical to the futherance of humanitarian law.

Barnes notes that the "Board" found Key credible and "truthful" but also found his objection to the Iraq War was not "religiously motivated. Rather what Mr. Key objected to were the systematic violations of human rights that resulted from the conduct of the United States Army in Iraq and the requirement that he participate. The Board summarized Mr. Key's evidence concerning these events and compared his experiences to the observations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) detailed in its report from 2003. It is apparent that the Board found Mr. Key's experiences to be consistent with the ICRC findings".
Judge Barnes wrote that an error was made by the 'Board' when they found "that refugee protection for military deserters and evaders is only available where the conduct objected to amounts to a war crime, a crime against peace or a crime against humanity."

Again, there's at least one word missing in the War Resisters Support Campaign's press release when they summarize Jeffry House's summary of Judge Barnes' decision. PDF format warning, the decicision can be found online here (23 pages).

UPI notes, "The Friday ruling may pave the way for other American deserters who try to claim refugee status in Canada, The Globe and Mail in Toronto reported." Tu Thanh Ha (Globe and Mail) points out, "However, the ruling didn't address another legal hurdle faced by American deserters: proving that they'll face undue hardship if sent back to the United States." Brett Clarkson (Toronto Sun) observes, "It's also the first time a court in Canada has sided with the deserters' movement, which has won both the support of Parliament and a majority of Canadians, according to various recent polls, but has been rebuffed by the Immigration and Refugee Board and Harper government." R. Robertson (Indybay Media) covers the decision here. Joe Schneider (Bloomberg News) covers it here, CBC covers it here, BBC here and AP here.

US war resister Corey Glass is scheduled to be deported July 10th. He is not mentioned in the decision. He is mentioned in some press on this news. What Glass needs to do (what House needs to do) is file a motion to stop the deportation based on recent reports, ask for an emergency hearing, present the press accounts and Brett Clarkson as a witness (to testify only to what he has reported, not to break any journalistic ethics), argue that Glass is not a deserter, that the deportation order needs to be dropped and immediately start the citizenship process for Glass. This was going to be explained in a lengthy piece for Third noting (a) what is currently going on re: US military and (b) the historical nature. After the nasty e-mail Friday, we killed the article. And before the dumb ass e-mails again, I've stated what needs to be done. That is the legal route to IMMEDIATELY go. If any pause is taken, if any wait and see is taken, Glass will likely lose out. I include that not for the 'helpers' but for the war resister Corey Glass -- who does not appear to be being 'helped.'

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 hit the 4,113 mark. And tonight? 4114. The US military announced today: "A Multi-National Corps – Iraq Soldier died of non-battle related causes in Baghdad July 5. An investigation into the cause of death is under way." Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,236,604 up from 1,225,898 since they last updated.

Reported violence over the weekend? McClatchy's Iraqi correspondents were working so we'll note them.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday a Friday Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left eight people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing (Saturday) that wounded two people, a Friday home bombing in Diyala Province that left a family of six wounded and an Al Anbar Province roadside bombing (Saturday) which "targeted Khalid Abu Mihahid a leader of the Islamic party in Faulljua" and wounded him and "two of his guards." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports today a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 6 lives and left fourteen wounded, another Baghdad car bombing that wounded five people, a Diyala Province bombing that claimed 7 lives and left three wounded and another that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with three more Iraqi soldiers injured and a Kirkuk bombing that left four Iraqi police officers injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Baquba that left 1 "civilian" wounded and 1 person shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 "female students" were kidnapped in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday that 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

An Iraqi correspondent files "Resettlement!!" at McClatchy's Inside Iraq about the US offer of 'resettlement' which resulted in several Iraqi journalists attending a briefing today:

At the beginning of the meeting, faces were optimistic. Some of the journalists attended with many question marks and they wanted helping them to start the most difficult step. Most of the questions were about the aid that the program would provide especially the issues that concern housing and finding jobs, but unfortunately the answersabout these two questions were disappointing for them. Those journalists were comparing American's aid with the aid that submit toIraqi refugees from some European countries like Sweden, Holland and Germany which provided Iraqi refugees with accommodation and salaries for years.

In other Iraqi news, Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, has stated the PKK needs to "abandon northern Iraqi soil if they refuse to stop their attacks against neighboring Turkey." New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
A note to our readers
Editorial: The real change choice
TV: Nonreality programming
Judge Robert Barnes rules in Joshua Key's appeal
The missing editorial
Letters to An Old Sell Out: Iraq
Letters to An Old Sell Out: About Latin America
Letters to An Old Sell Out: Where's the honesty?
Stop the racism

Pru notes Chris Bambery's "Iraqi oil to be handed to the West" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Global oil corporations are set to return to Iraq, some five years after the US-led invasion of the country that plunged it into chaos.
US and European oil multinationals are scrambling to grab Iraq's vast oil resources. Now the Iraqi puppet government is set to award contracts to Chevron, BP, Shell, Total, Exxon Mobil, and BHP Billiton.
Iraq holds the second biggest oil reserves in the world and the six oil fields being divided up contain between a third and two thirds of those reserves. If exploited they would boost the volume of Iraq's oil by 60 percent.
The terms of the contracts on offer remain secret – though it has been revealed that the oil firms have drafted the terms themselves.
US advisors attached to the Iraqi oil ministry told the New York Times that US government lawyers and private sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts.
The Iraqi government claims they are standard "technical service contracts". But in the oil industry these would be normally given to specialist companies with geological, construction or drilling expertise, or ones that install a particular piece of technology.
The big oil companies do not carry out such work. The “technical service contracts” are actually a means of handing over Iraq’s state-controlled oil resources to the multinationals – a privatisation in all but name.
There was no bidding process. BP was simply granted the Rumaila field and Shell the Kirkuk field.
Although the contracts are only for two years, an extension clause grants the oil companies the rights to future contracts.
Inside Iraq there is growing concern – even among government supporters in parliament – that the country’s wealth is being plundered and handed over to the oil giants.
For 40 years BP, Exxon Mobil, Total and Shell together ran the Iraq Petroleum Company, formed in 1912, which controlled Iraq’s oil. Its head office was in London’s Oxford Street.
The oil fields were finally nationalised in 1972 and there is widespread support within Iraq for keeping the oil in Iraqi hands.
Even before the 11 September 2001 attacks, George Bush’s administration had planned for an attack on Iraq and in order to gain control of its oil.
Now those plans are coming to fruition – at the cost of the Iraqi people.
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