Sunday, July 13, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

************* PLEASE CIRCULATE FAR AND WIDE *****************
Greetings everyone,
Robin Long is scheduled to be transported to the Lower Mainland from Kamloops sometime tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the hearing for his application for a stay of deportation will be at 9:30 am in Vancouver.We will gather at 8:30 am at 701 W. Georgia St. (north side of W. Georgia between Granville & Howe St.)
After drawing the support from the morning commuters, we will attend the hearing on the 7th floor.
Please come out to support Robin and all the War Resisters if you able, and spread the word!
For more information about the campaign please visit:

The above is from the War Resisters Support Campaign - Vancouver. So Robin Long's hearing is taking place Monday morning. Jenny Gross (Bloomberg News) notes an article in the New York Times on war resistance. The article, starts on A6 and continues on A8, is Ian Austen's "U.S. Soldiers No Longer Find Haven In Canada:"

During the Vietnam War, the Liberal prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, welcomed American deserters and draft dodgers, declaring that Canada "should be a refuge from militarism." Americans who arrived were generally able to obtain legal immigrant status simply by applying at the border, or even after they entered Canada.
But while the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not backed the Iraq war, it has shown little sympathy for American deserters. During a recent parliamentary debate, Laurie Hawn, a Conservative from Alberta, asked, "Why do they not fight it within their own legal system instead of being faux refugees in Canada?"
No American deserter of the Iraq war has been deported by the Canadian government, but that is not for lack of effort. Immigration authorities have ordered about nine deserters to leave Canada, leading to public battles in the courts.

(Yes, that is the article noted in the Thursday snapshot.)

Meanwhile the Montreal Gazette editorializes "Too much compassion can erode the rule of law" which asserts decisions are being made willy-nilly and with no concept of . . . They don't say. They're willy-nilly themselves. They note Joshua Key:

U.S. Army Private Joshua Key deserted, came to Canada, and claimed refugee status, saying that in Iraq he had witnessed looting and violations of human rights. His refugee claim was rejected, but a judge allowed him to stay in Canada anyway.

The editorial is focused on different cases of refugee claims (Key is the only war resister they use as an example) and they appear to assert that the claims are made without foundation. Case law and precedent -- two terms they never stumble upon -- would qualify as foundation. They fret over the US reaction (apparently meaning the current administration installed in the White House since popular opinion swung against the illegal war years ago and has only continued). It's a serve-yourself-buffet of thoughts -- none of which are ever fully developed. The strongest 'argument' against refugees they semi-present is their fear of US reaction. Amanda Miller writes the Windsor Star and mounts an actual argument: "There is nothing wrong with any American military deserter trying to get refugee status in Canada to avoid the illegal war that was started by George W. Bush on false pretenses." There's more to her letter and the Montreal Gazette should study it because the editorial board and Miller have agreement on some issues but the difference is Miller advances an argument on those points. W. Peters Wahnapitae writes The Sudbury Star to disagree with their editorial advocating that war resisters should remain in Canada. Wahnapitae does not disagree with that conclusion, just on where the stance is coming from: "I am sick and tired of the practice of 'quiet diplomacy,' which is turning our eyes to torture and doing nothing or virtually nothing. Let the U. S. rant and rave all it wants -- we have seen them do this all the time when they don't get their way. Stand up to a higher standard, refugee board. " Friday, the Vancouver Province argued against safe harbor for war resisters and noted Robin Long: "Canadian anti-war groups and others opposed to the deportation of war resister Robin Long are well-meaning. But, in our view, they are misguided.
Long, 25, wasn't being persecuted. He wasn't being tortured in some Third World country. He left the U.S. military and fled to Canada three years ago to avoid being sent to Iraq." The editorial claims "generosity" is a quality of Canadians and, while that may be true elsewhere, it is in short supply on that editorial board. Since the paper seems rather cold-blooded, let's make the argument for them briefly in the currency terms they worship: Accepting deserters and draft dodgers during Vietnam boosted the local Canadian economies in numerous ways including tourism. Not only will a war resister with asylum means that family members of the resister will most likely visit (ones who would otherwise never go to Canada), it means friends will as well. During Vietnam, family member visits that were parents or a parent could and often did mean a trip to the local grocery store where too much was purchased -- in the way that parents always worry and fuss over their children who are away from home. That's not counting mementos purchased or meals and lodging while in Canada. Trudeau made the decision on ethical grounds and it's sad that The Province only looks for dollar signs, but there it is. War resisters today are not as large an influx of individuals but they are an influx and refugee status and work permits would further help the local economies. Trudeau's decision during an illegal war that the bulk of the war was against gave Canada huge standing around the globe, raised the country's profile and also encouraged tourism. The same could happen today. Harper might want to consider how the decision made clear that Canada was no one's little sibling to be bossed around -- not by the US, not by the UK -- and how that also raised the country's profile.

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 4,114 mark. And tonight? 4118. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,236,604 (counter hasn't been updated since last week).

In some of the weekend's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded six people, another that wounded four, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and a Falluja roadside bombing that wounded "the head of the anti-terrorism" which was followed by a second roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 police officers with five more wounded (and by the resignation of "head of Falluja police Colonel Faisal Al-Zobayee"). McClatchy's Mohammed Al Dulaimy reported Saturday 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that wounded eight people, a Baghdad car bombing that wounded Brig Gen Faris Amir (whose car the bomb was attached to), and a Sulaimaniyah bombing that claimed 2 lives, a Kirkuk roadside bombing which was an apparent assassination attempt on Col Ahmed Al Shemirani and resulted in 1 woman dead and three people wounded (including Al Shemirani).


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack "on a soccer field in Dhuluiya" which claimed the lives of 1 police officer and 1 "Awakening" council member and left three people ("including a nine-year-old child) wounded. Reuters notes 1 "member of the political office of Shabak minority group" was shot dead outside of Mosul on Sunday and 1 person was shot dead in Mosul today.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. McClatchy's Mohammed Al Dulaimy reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad and 7 in Nineveh Province.

Turning to the military's waiver program which has lowered recruitment standards repeatedly.
Russel Carollo (Sacramento Bee) reports on the paper's findings after examing "120 cases of people whose backgrounds should have raised the suspicions of military recruiters, including felony convictions and serious drug, alcohol or mental health problems. Of those, 70 were involved in controversial or criminal incidents in Iraq." The man who has come to be the poster boy of the waiver program is not mentioned in the article: Steven D. Green. Another version written by Carollow and published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ("Applicants' run-ins with law taint recruiting in Midland") notes Green at the top:

MIDLAND — Pfc. Steven D. Green, accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family, entered the Army with a criminal record for minor offenses that included possession of drug paraphernalia.
But a yearlong examination by The Sacramento Bee found that Green’s court record was not the worst among former and current Midland residents applying for the military since the Iraq war began, and he’s not the only one to later be charged with committing offenses in the military.
Unlike other courts approached by The Bee, the Midland Municipal Court retained records of all military requests for searches — requests that are routine when someone applies to join the military. Those records provide a rare look at a microcosm of the more than 250,000 applicants for military service every year.

[. . .]
When Green applied for the Army in 2005, a court record noted that he owed outstanding fines and "must contact court immediately." The following year in Iraq, Green drank before going to a house he’d previously visited, where he emerged from a room to tell fellow soldiers, "I just killed them. All are dead," according to an affidavit from an FBI agent.
Green was discharged from the Army "due to a personality disorder," the affidavit says. A federal court in Kentucky charged him with sexually assaulting and murdering Abeer Kassem Hamza Al-Janabi and killing her parents and a sibling.
Two months ago, Green’s attorneys notified prosecutors that they may use insanity as a defense.

Abeer wasn't raped, she was gang-raped. The two other soldiers taking part in the gang-rape have confessed and fingered Steven D. Green as the ringleader. The first article does note Mario Lozano Jr. who shot dead Nicola Calipari and wounded Giuliana Sgrena (he also wounded Andrea Carpani -- not mentioned in the article) after journalist Sgrena had been released by kidnappers. Lozano threatened a man with a bat in 1994, his then-wife reported spousal abuse in 2000 (he was in the military at that time), he was wanted for questionin in Fairbanks for threatening a man, wrote bad checks, didn't pay child support. For those who have forgotten, he also blamed his shooting, the death and the two wounded on . . . Sgrena -- yet another indication that he has problems which should have been red flags. There are many other cases including the mother of a soldier whose been charged with drug selling in Iraq and, noting his "history of drug and mental problems," declares, "Shame on my son, but shame on all you people out there who are policing this and allowing this to continue."

Returning to the New York Times Sunday edition, the front page offers Steven Lee Myers' "U.S. Consdering Stepping Up Pace Of Iraq Pullout" which, if you go beyond the headline, really translates as "more troops needed for Afghanistan." That would be the nearly seven-year-old war that accomplished nothing and couldn't have from the start. Barack Obama sees that, from his repeated remarks, as one region that needs more troops, as opposed to one that US troops need to leave. Another useless war that has and can accomplish nothing. But will apparently drag on forever. (And enrich the war lords the US returned to power.) Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ali Hameed contribute "Province Leaders Say Iraqis Not Ready to Handle Security." That goes on A8 and offers "the Anbar Provincial Council" arguing that Al Anbar Province is not ready to be handled by its own inhabitants and no transfer should take place until after the elections. The elections are scheduled for October whether they take place or not -- this is a White House defined 'benchmark' that has long been delayed -- only time will tell. Withing the region, there is a split between the council and members of the "Awakening" Council -- it's a power struggle with the latter feeling the requested delay is nothing but a way to influence the upcoming elections. Al Anbar Province is a border province and an influx of Iraqi refugees (presumably from that province only, unless the rules for voting have been changed) from Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia could also effect the outcome -- a point not made in the article. (I'm not speaking of a mythical return. I am noting the refugees are following the news on the upcoming elections and it is possible that some from that province might consider crossing back for voting only.) Movement continues to be restricted in Baghdad. Usama Redha (Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times) reports a neighborhood in Baghdad was walled off overnight: "The wall consists of gloomy concrete chunks, 12 feet high, set side by side to enclose my neighborhood. Seven miles of it went up overnight. We call it 'The Black Night'." And The Gulf Times reports that "a major crackdown" on Diyala Province is about to commence.

New content at Third this morning:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Who did you get into bed with?
TV: The dog days of summer and the dogs
DVD: Stop-Loss
Barack Obama on human rights, 'Screw 'em'
What's The Progressive lying about now?
One year later, Barack answers the question
Are children allergic to Barack?
Who's driving in the Indycar Race!!!!


The e-mail address for this site is

mcclatchy newspapers
the new york times