Saturday, August 23, 2008

Robin Long

Mr. Long's civilian lawyer, James M. Branum, said after the hearing that he would appeal the sentence.
"I felt he doesn't deserve a day in prison," Mr. Branum said. "Any jail time is unjust."
Mr. Branum added that "he may have committed an illegal action, but morally he was right, and it meant a lot for him to say that to the Army."
Karen Linne, a Fort Carson spokeswoman, said the Army had no comment.

The above is from Dan Frosch's "Soldier Who Deserted to Canada Draws 15-Month Term" in today's New York Times (A16) and it's a good size brief but Karen had no comment? Really? She was a regular chatterbox. Maybe she just didn't want to talk to the New York Times? (Karen Linne is the Karen mentioned in yesterday's snapshot.) As Karen informed yesterday, Robin was sentenced to 15 months with credit for time served since being extradited to the US ("about 40 days"), busted in rank down to E1 and given a dishonorable discharge.

Robin is a US war resister who went to Canada instead of serving in the illegal war. In Canada, he made a life for himself, attempted to find work and became a father. If he made a mistake, it was in ending up in the region where the US dictates the shot. (The same region that took orders from the US to arrest US war resister Kyle Snyder on his wedding day. Snyder was released, he'd broken no Canadian laws and never should have been arrested.) Harassed by the police there, the hostile Stephen Harper government was able to put forward the argument that his being a day laborer meant he was somehow 'out of touch' with immigration authorities. This allowed the 'risk' analysis to take place and they tried to hide behind it when they decided to jail him prior to Judge Anne Mactavish's finding last month.

Robin was attempting to win safe harbor status in Canada. Mactavish lied and declared him a "flight risk" which allowed her to imprison him. If you think an immigrant to your country is a flight risk, if you think they may leave the country, you don't imprison them. You hope they'll leave before government monies are used to determine whether they should be allowed to stay or not. But it was always about extraditing Robin and Mactavish was working with the US government -- something Canadian citizens outraged by.

She knew extradition was a different process, she knew that if she ordered extradition (and not deportation), her actions would be reviewed by higher bodies before anything took place. Extradition is a legal process which requires many steps.

Mactavish skipped those steps by lying and saying she was deporting. Robin was not deported. Robin was imprisoned and when Mactavish entered her ruling, he was not freed. If Robin was being deported, he would be taken to the border or an airport (or bus depot for that matter) to ensure that he left the country. That is deportation.

What happened was extradition. He was imprisoned. After the ruling was made public, he was still imprisoned. He was kept from his peers and the press and he was physically taken to the border by Canadian authorities who did not expell him, they released him into the custody of American authorities under the arrangement that had already (and illegally) taken place. Robin wasn't deported, he was extradited. It's not a minor point.

Had Mactavish called it what it was, Robin would still be in Canada right now. Extradition requires review (and is beyond the power Mactavish held). Extradition, if presented openly to the Canadian people, would have led to a huge outrage. Even if a decision had been reached to extradite Robin it would not have been reached for some time.

She lied and called her deporation. Mactavish's 'ruling' doesn't just need to be reviewed by the people, it needs to be legally reviewed as does whether or not she's fit to sit on the bench. This isn't a minor point and it's especially important because Mactavish will be ruling on other war resisters in Canada.

In terms of deportation, by Canada's own laws and guidelines, Robin was iffy to be deported. He is the father of a young Canadian citizen (less than two years old). Mactavish's decision splits up a family which goes against every policy for determining status in Canada.

In terms of what she actually did, a judge who extradites and tries to conceal it under a phoney claim of "deportation" does not deserve to sit on the bench. If she truly believed in extradition, she should have pursued it through the appropriate channels. She knew it was "iffy" and wouldn't take place quickly, so she decided to set extradition in motion while LYING and calling it "deportation."

As a judge, she knows the difference between extradition and deportation. As a judge, she abused her powers and she was fraudulent with the Canadian people. She needs to step down. Charges need to be filed against her because she will be the sitting judge in other hearings regardless. She has demonstrated that Canadian law does not matter to her, serving the United States matters to Anne Mactavish. Charges need to be filed and any war resister case she's assigned needs to result in defandant's attorneys requesting that the case be reassigned.

When Mactavish elected to ignore Canadian law on immigration (Robin being the father of a young Canadian child) that was bad enough. But she had perpetrated fraud on the Canadian people by extraditing someone and insisting it was deportation. Canadians have a right to believe that their justices work for Canada. Mactavish has made it clear that she will bend, break and ignore Canadian law to be of service to the United States.

The Globe and Mail demonstrates how little they care about their country (which is one reason Canada moves more and more to a totalitarian state) by refusing to file their own story and instead running with an AP article. From that article:

He joined the U.S. Army in July, 2003, believing at the time that his country was justified in going to war in Iraq.
His perspective changed after hearing that weapons of mass destruction had not been found in Iraq and that Iraqi detainees had been abused.
Concluding that the abuse was systemic, Pte. Long decided that he would not participate or be complicit in what he believed were war crimes.
In September, 2006, he applied to be accepted in Canada as a refugee, claiming that the U.S. was involved in an illegal war.

Nick Kyonka (Toronto Star) actually files a report, from "Iraq war resister sentenced to 15 months:"

The sentence was the longest any convicted army deserter had received since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war, said retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, a former diplomat who resigned from her post out of protest at the war's outset.
Wright testified against the legality of the Iraq war on Long's behalf.
Of the thousands of soldiers sentenced for desertion or going AWOL – and the estimated two dozen tried for protesting the war – only former army sergeant Kevin Benderman received an equal sentence in 2005.
About two-dozen anti-war supporters gathered around the courthouse at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., yesterday afternoon as a military judge handed down Long's sentence.
Though initially sentenced to 30 months in prison, that time was reduced to the 15-month maximum military prosecutors had agreed on when arranging a plea deal last week.
Long, 25, came to Canada in 2005 to flee a scheduled deployment to Iraq. While here, he was briefly engaged to an Ontario woman -- with whom he had a child last year -- before he moved to British Columbia, supporters have said.

Erin Miller files a report for KBS Radio. ABC's KRDO files "Soldier Sentenced For Desertion" (link has text and video):

"He's doing okay," said James Branam, the civilian defense attorney hired by peace activists supporting Long. "He felt good that he got to speak his mind about why he did what he did. He knows that he did the legally wrong thing, but the morally right thing."
Long's lawyer says he reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to desertion with intent to remain away permanently, a lesser charge than desertion with intent to shirk hazardous duty. The judge initially sentenced Long to 30 months, but an earlier plea agreement gave him the lesser sentence.
Long's suporters felt the sentence is too harsh. "He's a young man who is a very good man," said retired Col. Mary Ann Wright, a former Army diplomat. "He's got principles, honor and courage. Four or five months is pretty common among all the ones who have gone AWOL and been public about it."
Sgt. Matthis Chiroux of New York can relate to Long. Chiroux also refused a deployment, but says the Army decided against court-martialing him--partly because he testified about war objections before Congress and had support from some lawmakers. "Robin Long, to me, is a hero. I'm going to be writing him lots of letters."

From Team Nader:

Next Wednesday, Denver is going to be rockin.
Thousands will be gathered at the University of Denver Magness arena to protest the corporate lockdown on the Presidential debates.
Sean Penn, Val Kilmer, Cindy Sheehan, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and others will join Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez.
Demanding an end to the corporate control over the Presidential debates.
So, if there is any chance you can get to Denver Wednesday, you can make a donation to reserve your ticket
If you can't get to Denver, no problem.
Free Speech TV will be streaming the event live on the Internet. (Wednesday, August 27, 7 p.m. Mountain time, 9 p.m. Eastern.)
click here to watch.
Also, the Free Speech TV will be broadcasting the event live on Dish Network Channel 9415.
And many local public access channels will be carrying the Free Speech TV feed.
(If your public access channel doesn't carry it, call them and ask them to do so.
Click here for a list of public access channels.)
Anyway, it's going to be an historic event -- protesting the corporate control over our politics -- in the midst of the corporate Democratic spectacle.
So, join us in Denver if you can.
If not, invite your friends over, and dial up the live Internet feed -- or watch on television via satellite or on your public access channel.
Onward to November.

Since yesterday morning, the following community websites have updated:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;

[Mike posting this for C.I. and adding a note, Wally and Cedric are posting this evening.]
The e-mail address for this site is

nick kyonka
robin long
dan frosch
the new york times