Friday, September 21, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, today is both National POW/MIA Recognition Day in the US and International Peace Day around the world, Kim Rivera is arrested, Nouri whines to Joe Biden, bragging rights go to John Kerry not the sad little State Dept spokesperson, sequestration, and more.
Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and he issued the following statement today:
On the third Friday of every September we pay tribute to the lives and contributions of the more than 83,000 Americans who are still listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action. "Leave no one behind" is a familiar refrain which echoes through the ranks of our Armed Forces. This motto is also what propels the men and women of Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), who devote their lives to finding the remains of those unaccounted for in foreign lands.
While JPAC's task is challenging, their cause is worthy. Those who never made it home hold a special place in our hearts, and it is the responsibility of the living to give them a proper resting place here at home on American soil.
This past July, the remains of Lt. Col. Clarence F. Blanton of the U.S. Air Force, who was lost on March 11, 1968, in Housphan Province, Laos, were recovered. Lt. Col. Blanton is a symbol for all those who are missing. No matter how much time elapses -- in his case 42 years -- no cause is lost.
We are committed to finding all 83,000 POW/MIA and bringing them back to the home they sacrificed so much to defend, and to give their families an answer.
At the Pentagon today, there was a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony attended by many including Adm James Innefeld, the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former US Senator Chuck Hagel.
Chuck Hagel: Today the US military is one institution in this country -- by any metric -- that still enjoys the overwhelming support, confidence and trust of theAmerican people. No other institution in America can say that. That is a result of a generation after generation after generation of commitment, to what Ash Carter noted in his speech -- quoting my firend and former colleage [US Senator and former POW] John McCain -- what any POW has said, believes lived, continues to say: "If there is anything more important in society than to anchor that society with a belief in something greater than one's self interest in the future for your children, for your family, for the world, I don't know what it is. This institution, the military, all who sacrifice and serve daily, who have done that for years and through wars have built that institution that still anchors more than ever confidence and trust in our -- our free people, in our free society, and not only how we serve that society but how we keep that free society. Imperfect issues, problems, like all institutions, the world is imperfect. People are imperfect. But it is the POWs and their families, MIAs, those who serve who constantly remind this country of what's good, of what's strong, what's vital and what's decent.
Of this generation's wars -- the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War -- CNN notes there are 9 POWs and MIAs who were rescued. In addition there are two prisoners of war remaining from these two wars. In the Afghanistan War, the POW is Pfc Bowe R. Bergdahl of Ketchum, Idaho who was "Captured in Paktika province, Afgahnistan, on June 30, 2009. The Pentagon declared him Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown on July 1, 2009, and his status was changed to Missing-Captured on July 3, 2009." The Iraq War POW is Spc Ahmed K. Altaie of Ann Arbor, Michigan: "On October 23, 2006, Altaie was categorized as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown when he allegedly was kidnapped while on his way to visit family in Baghdad, Iraq. The Pentagon changed his status to Missing-Captured on December 11, 2006."
Staying in the US, sequestration appears to be coming shortly. The Congress voted for automatic sequestration to kick in if they were not able to come up with $1.2 trillion cuts to the budget and get it signed by the White House. Veterans services will not be effected by sequestration. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have both testified to Congress about that. The VA will be effected administratively if sequestration kicks in but both have testified it will not effect veterans care.
The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing yesterday to explore what sequestration, if it happens, will mean for DoD. US House Rep Buck McKeon is the Chair, US House Rep Adam Smith is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee: DoD's Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Robert Hale, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen Lloyd J. Austin III, Vice Chair of the Navy, Adm Mark Ferguson, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen Joseph F. Dunford and Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen Larry O. Spencer.
Chair Buck McKeon: The House Armed Services Committee meets today to receive testimony on the Department of Defense planning for sequestration, The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, and the way forward. Thank you all for being here. This will be the last week that the House is in session until mid-November. Today's hearing will provide members a final opportunity before the lame duck session to inform themselves and their constitutents about how sequestration will be implemented and how those decisions will effect our men and women in uniform and our national security. We had hoped that the President would provide this information in the report required by The Sequestration Transparency Act. Unfortunately, he failed to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law. Not only was the report late but the report submitted to Congress merely paid lip service to the dire national security implications of these cuts after the president has had over a year to consider this crisis. Moreover, the White House has even gone so far to instruct the Department of Defense not to make preparations for sequestration. Nevertheless, as previous testimony to this Committee has provided many of our military leaders believe that initial preparation for sequestration must occur well in advance of the January 2, 2013 implementation date. For example, when the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, was asked this spring if plans for sequestration were underway, he stated "We are not doing as yet any hard planning. That would probably happen later this summer."
Ranking Member Adam Smith declared sequestration to be "the most pressing issue facing our nation." I think every Committee should have held hearings this month asking what was being effected. Foreign Relations/Affairs in the Senate and House should have held a hearing to find out how it would effect the State Dept, etc. The Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees (chaired by Senator Patty Murray and US House Rep Jeff Miller) did do that, not this month, but repeatedly throughout the year. In addition, Senator Murray has asked questions about this issue in other hearings. (Murray also served on the Super Congress which may be why she takes the issue more seriously than some Committee Chairs in the House and Senate appear to do.)
If sequestration is implemented, what does it mean? We're noting what the officials told the Committee. Not what they said it might mean, not what they said they thought it might mean but they'd have to get back on that, what was actually said.
DoD's Robert Hale: We budget separately for OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] and the Base Budget. And you approve each budget. When we actually begin executing, the budget's merge so there's one operation and maintenance army account for actives -- has both OCO and Base spending in there, we would have some authority to move money -- within that account -- and we would use it to try to protect the war time operating budgets. But I don't want to make that sound easy because what that means is we'd have to make disproportionately large cuts in the Base side and that will have some of the effects on readiness and training that are of such concern to us. So we would have some ability and we would move to use it to protect the actual wartime operating budget.
The Marine Corps Gen Joseph Dunford: Congressman [Joe Wilson], you're correct, 58% of our total obligated authority goes to personnel. Our cost per Marine is not higher, but the proportion that we spend in our budget on personnel is higher. As a result of personnel being exempt in '13, what I alluded to in my opening remarks, is that we would then have to find a preponderance of funds out of operation and maintenance, infrastructure and our modernization accounts. So we'll continue to do things like run Paris Island, we'll absolutely continue to support those Marines and sailors that are in harms way in Afghanistan, we'll support those that are forward-deployed, but where we will see the biggest impact from a training perspective and where those resources will come from are those units that are at-home station. And I think you know that right now, two-thirds of our units that are at-home stationed are already in a degraded state of readiness. They're in a C3, C4 status already and these cuts will further exaserbate deficiencies in home-station readiness. We'll also be unable to support the strategy. One of the things that we are beginning to do now and had intended to do in FY13 is reconstitute our 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force -- which was the core of our contribution to the US Pacific Command -- and the resources that are necessary to support that are unlikely to be available. And then what we'll see across the board in our modernization accounts is delays and so forth that will cause us to delay programs and in some cases do more with less.
Air Force Gen Larry O. Spencer: If sequestration is triggered, the first thing we would do is look at those accounts or those areas that we would want to try to protect and OCO or Overseas Contingency Operations would be one of those. So once you do that, that drives more of a cut into the other accounts. And so, assuming we would protect wartime operations, that would drive higher than a 9..4% cut into our other accounts like our procurement accounts. So what we would have to do -- We have not had specific conversations with the contractor for the [Boeing] KC-46. But depending upon the amount of the cut, we would -- The issue would be we would have to -- because we have a firm fixed price contract -- we would have to open up that contract and so -- and so we would then have to talk to the contractor about revising our payment schedule. And I would guess the contractor would talk to us about, 'Okay, well we can't give you as many airplanes on the schedule that you asked for or we may have to stretch out the airplane. Or, by the way, we may have to charge you more because now the contract's back open.' So clearly as we go down, as Mr. Bartlett mentioned, as we go down the thousands of contracts and thousands of lines, that's the type of process we have to go through with every kind of contract.
Space and other limitations mean we cover the hearing on bare bones. You can take those answers and think about whatever other government department -- except the Veterans Affairs Department -- and explore what sequestration might mean if it takes place. In terms of the hearing, we've quoted the Chair and he's a Republican. I'm not interested in Adam Smith. Sorry. Even if we had space there's little that I'd include from him -- for reasons that are obvious if you sit through hearings. (Including but not limited to, he's very fond of using his questioning time to offer editorials that use up the entire time and never allow a witness any time to speak.) Of the Democrats, the best performer was US House Rep Susan Davis (not a surprise there, she's one of the most informed members of the Committee -- and one of the most informed members of the Congress) with US House Rep Rob Andrews following closely behind. Among others things, he noted he was voting no on Friday about the House going into recess so everyone would have six weeks before the elections off from DC to return to their home districts where all current members of Congress are either running for office or have decided (or had redistricting decide for them) that they would not run for re-election -- all 435 seats of the House will be voted on in November. Andrews spoke of not understanding how you leave DC with this problem lingering in the air and felt instead it needed to be addressed. His comments were much better than my summary but there's not room for the. My apologies. (He also offered a proposal that was a serious proposal and deserves debate. I don't support it but others might.)
Staying with the US Congress, on Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Robert S. Beecroft to be US Ambassador to Iraq. We covered that hearing in the Wednesday and Thursday snapshots. Kerry's questioning is in the Wednesday snapshot. Like others on the Committee, he was frustrated with the use of Iraqi air space to carry goods into Syria. (The Senate, like the White House, believes this is taking place. Nouri al-Maliki's government denies that it is.)
Chair John Kerry: Can you share with me an answer to the issue I raised about the Iranians using American airspace in order to support [Syrian President Bashar] Assad? What are we doing, what have you been doing -- if anything, to try to limit that use?
Charge d'Affaires Robert S. Beecroft: I have personally engaged on this repeatedly at the highest levels of Iraqi government. My colleagues in Baghdad have engaged on this. We're continuing to engage on it. And every single visitor representing the US government from the Senate, recently three visitors, to administration officials has raised it with the Iraqis and made very clear that we find this unnaceptable and we find it unhelpful and detrimental to the region and to Iraq and, of course -- first and foremost, to the Syrian people. It's something that needs to stop and we are pressing and will continue to press until it does stop.
Chair John Kerry: Well, I mean, it may stop when it's too late. If so many people have entreated the government to stop and that doesn't seem to be having an impact -- uh, that sort of alarms me a little bit and seems to send a signal to me: Maybe -- Maybe we should make some of our assistance or some of our support contingent on some kind of appropriate response? I mean it just seems completely inappropriate that we're trying to help build their democracy, support them, put American lives on the line, money into the country and they're working against our insterest so overtly -- agains their own interests too -- I might add.
Charge d'Affaires Robert S. Beecroft: Senator, Senator, I share your concerns 100%. I'll continue to engage. And, with your permission, I will make very clear to the Iraqis what you've said to me today -- and that is you find it alarming and that it may put our assistance and our cooperation on issues at stake.
Chair John Kerry: Well I think that it would be very hard. I mean, around here, I think right now there's a lot of anxiety about places that seem to be trying to have it both ways. So I wish you would relay that obviously and I think that members of the Committee would -- would want to do so.
Kerry proposed this. The Committee agreed with this. In a press briefing on Thursday that can be best be summed up with the line from Private Benjamin (starring Goldie Hawn, script by Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer) about "Next time, don't be so quick to raise the white flag," spokesperson Victoria Nuland insisted the State Dept didn't support tying funding in to Iraq's behavior. Excerpt.
QUESTION: But you've been protesting all along about this issue. Yesterday, Senator Kerry warned Iraq. Are you going to further pressure Iraq and warn about the aid to Maliki government?
MS. NULAND: Well, Senator Kerry has obviously made his own statements. We do not support linking U.S. assistance to Iraq to the issue of the Iranian over-flights precisely because our assistance is in part directed towards robust security assistance, including helping the Iraqis build their capability to defend their airspace. So there's a chicken/egg thing here.
It's a shame she couldn't back up Kerry and it's a shame she couldn't have just said she'd get back to them on it. Instead, she had to waive the white flag. Always. Reuters reported today, "Iraq denied permission to a North Korean plane bound for Syria to pass through Iraqi airspace last Saturday because it suspected it could be carrying weapons, a senior official said on Friday." On Friday, they announce the denial six days prior of a North Korean plane? Why?
Because they feel and fear the pressure from the proposal John Kerry and others on the Committee floated. So now they're making some sort of effort to say, "Well, we're at least doing this." And making it because they want the US money. So, Alsumaria reports, Nouri told US Vice President Joe Biden on the phone today -- I would say whined -- that he was being doubted about his Syrian position by US officials and that this wasn't fair. Point being, John Kerry and the Committee knew what they were doing. Again, it's a shame that Nuland was so quick to raise the white flag at the State Dept yesterday. Already, Kerry and his Committee floating the idea has had impact. It's not yet where they want it, but it could get there. If Nuland and company would stop undercutting the Senate. There's more here but we'll pick it up next week, hopefully on Monday. Nuland doesn't have the sense to be embarrassed but if anyone has bragging rights today, it's John Kerry and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which, in less than 48 hours, have accomplished more than all the talk and talk and talk with Nouri that the State Dept's done for months now.
With a court-ordered dealine looming, the US State Dept has finally made a decision on the MEK. Joby Warrick (Washington Post) reports, "The State Department is preparing to remove the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin-e Khalq from the U.S. government's terrorist list, siding with advocates who say the controversial organization should be rewarded for renouncing violence and providing intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, senior Obama administration officials said Friday." Approximately 3,400 MEK members remain in Iraq. They were welcomed into the country in the eighties. After the US-invasion in 2003, the US military disarmed them and they entered into protected status which mean something under the Bush administration but meant nothing under the Barack administration. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." Under Barack, 'protected persons' means Nouri may attack and kill you and the US government looks the other way.
That explains the attacks and the lack of accountability for them. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."
How bad was it? So bad the members of England's House of Lords not only noted Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq during both attacks, they publicly speculated if he carried messages from the White House okaying the attacks? That's how bad it was.
The MEK in Iraq are known as Camp Ashraf residents because, for years, Camp Ashraf has been their home. They have now been forced to relocate to Camp Liberty and most have been relocated there. The US State Dept defied the federal courts for two years. And then?
Which takes us into legal news, it's a shock to the administration but most others saw the ruling coming. Jamie Crawford (CNN) reports, "A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations." This was a unanimous decision handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Why was it unanimous? Because the administration has been in violation for some time now. James Vicini (Reuters) reminds, "The appeals court ruled nearly two years ago that Clinton had violated the group's rights and instructed her to 'review and rebut' unclassified parts of the record she initially relied on and say if she regards the sources as sufficiently credible. It said Clinton had yet to make a final decision." The administration was in contempt. The courts and the executive branch were in conflict. (They still are.) What generally happens there is the court of appeals makes a united front because this is now a court issue (as opposed to the merits of the case from when it was heard earlier). Unlike the executive branch, the judicial branch has no security forces.
The court gave them until October. Mark Hosenball, Andrew Quinn and Vicki Allen (Reuters) note, "Officials said this week that the final large group of dissidents had moved from Camp Ashraf to the new location, ending a long standoff with Iraqi authorities." Elise Labott (CNN) speaks with a number of unnamed officials who undermine Hillary, attack her decision, insist the group is a cult and otherwise make clear that they do not enjoy their jobs currently. (Don't worry, one's leaving.) At the State Dept today, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked about the MEK.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask what you could say about the MEK and the de-listing.
MS. NULAND: I cannot say a lot at the moment, but what I can say is as part of the review process that we have made clear has been ongoing here for some time, the Department is now in the process of sending a classified communication from the Secretary to the Congress today regarding the designation of the MEK. I'm not in a position to confirm the contents of this because it's classified, but we anticipate being able to make a public announcement about it sometime before October 1st.
So with that, I'm going to have to excuse --
QUESTION: October 1st.
MS. NULAND: Yeah, exactly.
QUESTION: What's today?
QUESTION: It's September 21st.
QUESTION: The 21st?
MS. NULAND: Exactly.
QUESTION: Sometime in the next ten days?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
Because it's always news when a man of his girth moves, Al Mada reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani plans to arrive in Baghdad on Tuesday and get started on solving the political crisis -- if he's feeling good, the report states. AKnews reports State of Law MP Ali al-Shalah has declared that Jalal will be "able to find the solution for the current political crisis." However, Raman Brusk (AKnews) reports, "Kurds expect Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take 'practical steps' to end the file of the disputed areas between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said" Mohsen al-Saadoun, MP and Vice Chair of the Kurdish Blocs Coalition. Al Mada notes the Kurdistan Alliance states that there will be no political agreement without the consent of KRG President Massoud Barzani.
If Jalal Talabani does make it to Baghdad to work on political issues, he'll be working with one less vice president since Tareq al-Hasehmi remains in Turkey after Nouri bringing charges against him for terrorism. The 'judges' ruled September 9th that he was guilty. Nouri's State of Law political slate wasted no time running to Al Mada to insist that no one gives a damn about Tareq, not even in Iraqiya, and that no one was worried about Tareq, that he has no role in the government, he is "finished" and he has no role in government. Really? He still holds his position as Vice President. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq was targeted when al-Hashemi was. As Nouri charged Tareq with "terrorism," he demanded that al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post (it was an attack on Iraqiya -- the political slate that bested Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections). This followed Saleh al-Mutlaq calling Nouri a dictator. And he didn't just make the remark in passing, he made to the media. December 13, 2011, Arwa Damon and Moahmmed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is amassing dictatorial power as U.S. troops leave the country, risking a new civil war and the breakup of the nation, his deputy warned Tuesday. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq told CNN that he was 'shocked' to hear U.S. President Barack Obama greet al-Maliki at the White House on Monday as 'the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq.' He said Washington is leaving Iraq 'with a dictator' who has ignored a power-sharing agreement, kept control of the country's security forces and rounded up hundreds of people in recent weeks." The round ups, the mass arrests continue. What's changed is Nouri and Saleh have kissed and made up and Saleh now trots after Nouri like an obedient dog or a cooing bird flying overhead. They travel together now and Saleh's always finding a silver lining. Al Mada reports he gushed that Nouri's agreed not to allow the Justice and Accountability Commission to target college professors.
Isn't that just wonderful? Unless . . . maybe you know that the Justice and Accountabilty Commission not only was not ever supposed to have anything to do with educators but also you know that the Justice and Accountabilty Commission was supposed to have expired years ago. If you know that, if you know that the Justice and Accountability Commission died and that Parliament let it die (by refusing to approve another committee), then why would you think it was good that the Commission was doing anything to begin with?
Let's drop back to the January 25, 2010 snapshot and, for those who've forgotten, Saleh al-Mutlaq was furious back then. The Justice and Accountability Commission had barred him from running for office -- even though he was currently an MP -- would not allow him to run in the 2010 elections. He was angry, he was mad. He insisted he was no terrorist. And he told the world a few other things when he appeared on Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera), we'll just note the most key passage.
Jassim al-Azzawi: [Overlapping] Yes, I shall come to the scare tactics and the fear politics that you mention but before that, I guess our international audience would like to know, who stands behind this campaign to disbar more then 500 people? Some of them such senior figures as yourself. The National Dialogue Front has about 12 members in Parliament. You've been in politics for many, many years. I guess the logical question is: Who's behind it? It is my role as a presenter and a journalist to ask the tough questions and perhaps it's your role as a politician and even your perogative not to answer. Let me give you a couple of options and see which one you lean on. Is it Ahmed Chalabi, the former head of the de-Ba'athification? Is it Prime Minister al-Maliki fearing that Saleh al-Mutlaq has the wind behind him and one day he might even become the president of Iraq? Or is it another force? Who is exactly orchestrating this?
Saleh al-Mutlaq: Well Ahmed Chalabi could not do what was done alone. I think there's a power behind that and my belief is that Iran is behind that and Ahmed Chalabi is only a tool -- Ahmed Chalabi agenda is a tool to do this. And Ahmed Chalabi is not alone. We discovered that Ahmed Chalabi now has an intelligence association in Iraq and he worked with so many people outside the Iraqi government. And what happened really surprised everybody. The same day that this decision was taken, everybody was saying, "I know nothing about it." You ask al-Maliki, he says, "I know nothing about it." You ask the president [Jalal Talabani], he says he knows nothing about it. You ask the Chairman of the Parliament, he knows nothing about it. Then who is doing that? We discover there is a small organization which does not exist legally. The de-Ba'athification committee has been frozen -- including Ahmed Chalabi himself -- has been frozen by the prime minister and by the president. And another committee, which is the Accountability, came in but it was not formed because the Parliament did not vote on the names that were being proposed by the prime minister because most of them are from al Dahwa Party [Nouri's party].
The Justice and Accountability Commission, Saleh told the world, was frozen and Parliament didn't allow another one to form. That was 2010. So how is this a good thing that the same commission is going to be around? It's not. Saleh al-Mutlaq is an embarrassment.
Sarika Sehgal: The first female soldier to seek refuge in Canada has lost her fight to stay and has been deported. Tonight Kimberly Rivera is back on US soil and in US custody. She was detained as soon as she reached the border. Rivera, who is married, has four children. Two of them were born here in this country. She served three months in Iraq but became disillusioned with the war. She came to Canada while on leave in 2007 and eventually sought refugee status. Her application was denied. That decision was later struck down. Today immigration officials again ordered her to leave. Jesse McLaren is a spokesperson with the War Resisters Support Campaign. He joins me now in the studio to discuss this. What is your reaction to what happened with Kimberly?
Jesse McLaren: It's been three things. First of all, we've been amazed by the outpouring of support for Kimberly Rivera over the past couple of weeks. There's been more than 20,000 signatures on a petition, there's been rallies from coast-to-coast. And this really reaffirms that Canadians want to continue our proud tradition. Now the second thing we've seen is that the government has been actively intervening against that mass support to try and deport war resisters where they are going to be jailed in the US. And so unfortunately today, Kimberly was sent across and despite the reassurances by government lawyers, she was immediately arrested.
Sarika Sehgal: So what happens to her now?
Jesse McLaren: She is going to be subject to court-martial. Previous war resisters who were deported by the Harper government were given disproprotionately harsh sentences because they spoke out in Canada so that amounts to persecution. So that is a fate that potentially awaits her but we already know she's already being punished. She's been deported from her new country. She's been separated from her family. And she's now been arrested. And that is at the behest of the Harper government.
Sarika Sehgal: Now you're saying separated from her family because two of her kids were born here in Canada, right?
Jesse McLaren: Her entire family has gone back to the US.
Sarika Sehgal: Oh. They left. Okay. What -- how common is this? War resisters or people being deported back?
Jesse McLaren: So there's dozens, even perhaps hundreds of war resisters in Canada. They have the support of the majority of Canadians, of two motions of Parliament, of international law, of Canadian tradition and the Harper government has already departed two: Robin Long and Clifford Cornell. Robin was also separated from his family -- from his Canadian-born son. And they were given harsh jail sentences. Much harsher than the majority of people who left the armed forces and those sentences were harsh because they spoke out in Canada.
Sarika Sehgal: What is the government saying or responding? How are they responding?
Jesse McLaren: The government claims to not be involved but in fact Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has a strong record. Firstly, he labeled war resisters bogus refugee claimants and the Canadian Council of Refugees clearly was dismissive of that and claimed that that provided evidence of the strong appearance political interference. Second of all, he's actually institutionalized his own personal ideological beliefs with what's called Operational Bulletin 202. And this is basically an instructive where he's told immigration officials to flag all US Iraq War resisters as "criminally inadmissiable" even though they refused to be criminally involved in the war in Iraq. And Amnesty International and the former chair of the Refugee Board have spoken out against Operational Bulletin 202, saying that it mistates the law and seeks to intrude on the independence of immigration. And finally, just this week, his lawyers claimed that the risk of Kimberly being arrested was merely speculative where in fact we have proof today that she was arrested just as we'd feared.
Sarika Sehgal: Okay, thanks so much for joining us.
Amnesty International is dismayed that today the Federal Court of Canada denied the motion to stop the removal of Kimberly Rivera, pending the outcome of her Humanitarian and Compassionate application to remain in Canada. Kimberly has been ordered leave Canada for the United States on Thursday 20 September. It is expected that Ms. Rivera will be detained upon arrival in the USA, transferred to military control, court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to serve in the U.S. military on grounds of conscience. Amnesty International considers Kimberly Rivera to be a conscientious objector, and as such would consider her to be a prisoner of conscience should she be detained for military evasion, upon arrival in the United States. Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses either to perform any form of service in the armed forces or applies for non-combatant status. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars. The law of the United States only recognizes the right to conscientious objection where a person forms an opposition to war in any form.
Amnesty International is dismayed that today the Federal Court of Canada denied the motion to stop the removal of Kimberly Rivera, pending the outcome of her Humanitarian and Compassionate application to remain in Canada. Kimberly has been ordered leave Canada for the United States on Thursday 20 September. It is expected that Ms. Rivera will be detained upon arrival in the USA, transferred to military control, court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to serve in the U.S. military on grounds of conscience. Amnesty International considers Kimberly Rivera to be a conscientious objector, and as such would consider her to be a prisoner of conscience should she be detained for military evasion, upon arrival in the United States. Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses either to perform any form of service in the armed forces or applies for non-combatant status. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars. The law of the United States only recognizes the right to conscientious objection where a person forms an opposition to war in any form. Wherever such a person is detained or imprisoned solely for their beliefs as a conscientious objector, Amnesty International considers that person to be a prisoner of conscience, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International believes that the right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is inherent in the notion of freedom of thought, conscience and religion as recognized in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Kimberly Rivera formed an understanding of her position as a conscientious objector over a period of time while she was deployed in Iraq. At one point her convictions caused her to stop carrying her rifle while on duty in Iraq. Amnesty International has followed the cases of multiple U.S. soldiers who have objected to military service on grounds of conscience since the U.S. led conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Amnesty International has observed multiple U.S. soldiers who maintain principled objections to military service imprisoned solely on the basis of their beliefs. Some soldiers have been imprisoned despite pending applications for conscientious objector status, some have been imprisoned after their applications for conscientious objector status have been wrongly refused, other soldiers have been deployed to combat zones despite pending applications for conscientious objector status.