There is also Ivan Brobeck.
There is Agustin Aguayo.
And many others. They stood up and they deserve praise for that. We noted it in Friday's snapshot and a few new readers and/or drive-bys had never heard of some of the people mentioned. So there are some visuals. From Friday's snapshot:
Bradley's an Iraq War veteran. All week long, as Iraq's has gotten bits of attention from the Big Media and even the small, some veterans were ignored.
Lot of talk about being right. Lot of bragging and back patting.
But what most of us did wasn't all that. The Dixie Chicks? Yeah, a sacrifice followed that. But most of us could speak out without any great suffering.
Iraq War veteran Joshua Key?
Joshua Key served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Kim Rivera served in Iraq. She returned to the United States and she couldn't go back. She couldn't return to the illegal war.
James Burmeister served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Kyle Snyder served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Darrell Anderson served in Iraq. He returned to the United States and he couldn't go back. He couldn't return to the illegal war.
Those are only a few of the names. All of the above went to Canada and sought asylum. Darrell and James came back to the US. Kim -- like Robin Long -- was forced out of Canada. Joshua and Kyle remain in Canada -- along with others including the first Iraq War resister to publicly attempt to be granted asylum in Canada: Jeremy Hinzman.
Where is the outlet that will say that they were right?
They were right. And their actions helped awaken the country. Others who resisted and remained in the US like Kevin Benderman, Camilo Mejia and Stephen Funk were right too. Where's their pat on the back.
All of these people who showed the courage to say no to an illegal war helped awaken the country.
Lt. Ehren Watada is the only officer who publicly resisted going to the illegal war. So let's applaud his courage and drop back to the October 2, 2009 snapshot to remember his story:
This afternoon Fort Lewis's Media Relations department announced that Ehren Watada had completed his out processing and was discharged from the US military. We're going to stay with this topic for a bit because (a) it is important and (b) it is historical. 1st Lt Watada was the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As Ann noted last night, "there are people who have no idea what a brave thing he did." Ehren Watada was informed he would be deploying to Iraq in June 2005. He had not given much thought to Iraq. To prepare for the deployment, his superior advised him to study up on the war so that he could answer any questions that might come up from those serving under him. He started researching the basics about the country itself, topography and geography and continuing through the history up to the current war. He came across the Downing Street Memos which exposed that the 'intelligence' for the Iraq War was fixed. He was now firmly convinced that the Iraq War was illegal and immoral. From eager to serve in Iraq to realizing he'd be violating his oath to the Constitution, Ehren was now confronted with a decision. He could keep his mouth shut and just do as he was told. Or he could take a stand which would risk the wrath of the military as well as a portion of the public.
Ehren's mother, Carolyn Ho, has explained what happened next many times as she's spoken to raise awareness of her son's case. WBAI's Law and Disorder shared one of her talks on their January 22, 2007 broadcast. Carolyn Ho explained it was the new year, January 2006, and her son called her. He explained that he had something to tell her, he'd decided decided he wouldn't deploy to Iraq when the time came. She was very upset and asked him if he understood what might result from his decision? Ehren told her that he had no choide, he'd taken an oath to the Constitution, this was what he had to do and he was going to inform his superiors.
Ehren didn't hesitate to inform his superiors. This was in January 2006. They at first attempted to change his mind. He could not be budged. So they stated they wanted to work something out. They brainstormed together. Ehren came up with ideas including, he could deploy to the Afghanistan War instead, he could resign (his service contract expired in December 2006). His superiors appeared to be eager to consider every possibility; however, they were just attempting to stall. They appear to have thought that if they put him off and put him off, when the day to deploy came, he'd just shrug his shoulders and deploy.
They did not know Ehren. June 7, 2006 ("the day before his 28th birthday," Carolyn Ho likes to remind), Ehren went public with his refusal to deploy. Jake Armstrong (Pasadena Weekly) notes Ehren stated to participate in the Iraq War would be participating in war crimes.
In August 2006, an Article 32 hearing was held. Watada's defense called three witnesses, Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois' College of Law, Champagne; Denis Halliday, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN; and retired Colonel Ann Wright. These three witnesses addressed the issue of the war, it's legality, and the responsibilities of a service member to disobey any order that they believed was unlawful. The testimony was necessary because Watada's refusing to participate in the illegal war due to the fact that he feels it is (a) illegal and (b) immoral. Many weeks and weeks later, the finding was released: the military would proceed with a court-martial.
On Monday, February 5, 2007, Watada's court-martial began. It continued on Tuesday when the prosecution argued their case. Wednesday, Watada was to take the stand in his semi-defense. Judge Toilet (John Head) presided and when the prosecution was losing, Toilet decided to flush the lost by declaring a mistrial over defense objection in his attempt to give the prosecution a do-over. Head was insisting then that a court-martial would begin against Watada in a few weeks when no court-martial could begin.
January 4, 2007, Head oversaw a pre-trial hearing. Head also oversaw a stipulation that the prosecution prepared and Watada signed. Head waived the stipulation through. Then the court-martial begins and Ehren's clearly winning. The prosecution's own military witnesses are becoming a problem for the prosecution. It's Wednesday and Watada's finally going to take the stand. Head suddenly starts insisting there's a problem with the stipulation. Watada states he has no problem with it. Well the prosecution has a problem with it and may move to a mistrial, Judge Toilet declares.
The prosecution prepared the stipulation and they're confused by Head's actions but state they're not calling for a mistrial or lodging an objection. That's on the record. Head then keeps pushing for a mistrial and the prosecution finally gets that Head is attempting to give them a do-over, at which point, they call for a mistrial.
The case has already started. Witnesses have been heard from. Double-jeopardy has attached. The defense isn't calling for a mistrial and Head rules a mistrial over defense objection and attempts to immediately schedule a new trial. Bob Chapman (Global Research) observes, "With little fanfare the Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., accepted the resignation of the 1966 Kalari High School graduate, and he will be discharged the first week in October."
He deserves applause. Ehren became a part of a movement of resistance within the military and let's note the names of others we have covered: Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Brad McCall, Rodney Watson, Chuck Wiley and Kevin Benderman.
War resisters were public and they were underground. Those who went public shared important details of how they came to see the Iraq War as illegal.
Mark Larabee's "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-volunteer Army" (The Oregonian) was the first to tell James Burmeister's story and, in doing so, broke the news of the kill teams (broke the news domestically) July 16, 2007. Dee Knight's "Army court-martials resister for blowing whistle on 'bait-and-kill'" (Workers World) detailed what Burmeister experienced as well:
Private First Class James Burmeister faces a Special Court Martial at Fort Knox on July 16. The charges are AWOL and desertion. He returned to Fort Knox voluntarily in March, after living 10 months in Canada with his spouse and infant child. He refused redeployment to Iraq while on leave in May 2007.
In most such cases at Fort Knox, the Army has in recent years quietly dismissed the resister with a less than honorable discharge "for the good of the military." This time it's different. The brass "offered" Burmeister a year in military prison and a dishonorable discharge if he agreed to plead guilty.
Burmeister refused the offer. His father, Erich, says the Army is making an example of James for denouncing a secret "bait-and-switch" program he was forced to participate in while in Iraq. In media interviews last year in Canada, James described the program as a war crime he was forced to commit. Shortly afterward, the program's details came out in the Washington Post.
"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," the Post quoted Capt. Matthew Didier, leader of an elite sniper scout platoon. "We would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual."
The Post reported that "Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program ... raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items. ... 'You might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back,' Fidell said." (Sept. 24, 2007)
James had asked to be classified as a conscientious objector following his training in Germany, but his request was ignored by his commander. Instead, he became a machine gunner. "Our unit’s job seemed to be more about targeting a largely innocent civilian population or deliberately attracting confrontation," he wrote in his deposition seeking asylum in Canada. "These citizens were almost always unarmed. In some cases the Iraqi victims looked to me like they were children." (Eugene Weekly, May 22)
In Iraq, Burmeister had been knocked unconscious and his face filled with shrapnel when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. The shrapnel wounds left him with a traumatic brain injury, and he suffers from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His parents insist that he urgently needs medical and psychological help, not jail time.
His parents have waged an unceasing struggle for the Army to release him. They called on their representative, Peter DeFazio, to launch a congressional inquiry into James’s case, but have so far heard nothing. James' mother, Helen Burmeister, flew to Fort Knox in June, with help from anti-war ex-Colonel Ann Wright. Helen spoke directly to the base commander there, demanding that her son be discharged in lieu of a court martial. She then joined supporters from Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Vets Against the War demonstrating outside.
People who stood up -- publicly like the above or privately -- in the military deserve a round of applause, deserve some praise. The Iraq War wasn't a "dumb" war, the term is "illegal."