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Peacefile and the Blog|
This is a collection of "essential" clips about peace in the USA. The posts are not frequent (averaging seven per year), but over time they are intended to demonstrate the highlights of a social struggle.
For "value added" articles on matters of peace and justce, including some vintage reports from a little town called Crawford, please check out the peacefile blog.
After changing skins to this sharp portal design (a one-click operation with php-nuke by Raven script), we notice that our colors clash. The site logo is all about red sky (yes, the fabulous Dylan album echoes here), while the corporate template is not for no reason named "deep blue." The color clash, therefore, is best left in place as a kind of eyesore that reminds us how the struggle for peace relates to 21st Century professionalism. What is the future of the web?
But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and
robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any
|| Cheney accused of war crimes|
Thursday, May 1st, 2008
BBC | A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell has launched a stinging attack on US Vice-President Dick Cheney over abuse of prisoners by US troops. Col Lawrence Wilkerson accused Mr Cheney of ignoring a decision by President Bush on the treatment of prisoners in the war on terror.
Asked by the BBC's Today if Mr Cheney could be accused of war crimes, he said: "It's an interesting question."
"Certainly it is a domestic crime to advocate terror," he added.
"And I would suspect, for whatever it's worth, it's an international crime as well."
This is an extraordinary attack by a man who until earlier in the year was Mr Cheney's colleague in the senior reaches of the Bush team, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says.
Col Wilkerson has in the past accused the vice-president of responsibility for the conditions which led to the abuse of prisoners.
But this time he has gone much further, appearing to suggest Mr Cheney should face war crimes charges, our correspondent adds.
He said that there were two sides of the debate within the Bush administration over the treatment of prisoners.
Mr Powell and more dovish members had argued for sticking to the Geneva conventions, which prohibit the torture of detainees.
Meanwhile, the other side "essentially wanted to do away with all restrictions".
Mr Bush agreed a compromise, that "Geneva would in fact govern all but al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda look-alike detainees".
"What I'm saying is that, under the vice-president's protection, the secretary of defence [Donald Rumsfeld] moved out to do what they wanted in the first place, even though the president had made a decision that was clearly a compromise," Col Wilkerson said.
He said that he laid the blame on the issue of prisoner abuse and post-war planning for Iraq "pretty fairly and squarely" at Mr Cheney's feet.
"I look at the relationship between Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld as being one that produced these two failures in particular, and I see that the president is not holding either of them accountable… so I have to lay some blame at his feet too," he went on.
In the BBC interview, Col Wilkerson also developed his views on whether or not pre-war intelligence was deliberately misused by the White House.
He said that he had previously thought only honest mistakes were made.
But recent revelations about doubts in the intelligence community that appear to have been suppressed in the run-up to the war have made him question this view.
Posted by philo2 on Thursday, May 08 @ 23:00:02 MDT (1163 reads)|
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|| Bush Admits He Approved Torture|
by Helen Thomas
The American people have heard President Bush and his spokespeople say many times that the U.S. government does not engage in torture.
Whether Bush was believed or not is another story -- especially in light of the photographic evidence of the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. It's understood that many of the photos are too sadistically graphic to be made public.
Still, the official U.S. denials of torture continued until earlier this month when Bush acknowledged in an interview with ABC-TV that he knew about and approved "enhanced interrogation" of detainees, including "waterboarding" or simulated drowning.
"As a matter of fact," Bush added, "I told the country we did that. And I told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it."
The president added, "I didn't have any problems at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knew."
"He was the person who ordered the suicide attack -- I mean, the 9/11 attacks," Bush said. "And back then, there was all kind of concern about people saying, ‘Well, the administration is not connecting the dots.' You might remember those -- that period." Bush said.
Bush also said in the interview that he had been aware of several meetings his national security advisers held to discuss "enhanced interrogation" methods.
Surely he is aware of the U.S. commitment to international treaties barring "cruel and inhumane" treatment of prisoners.
What is startling is that he feels no remorse about the cruel image he has created for us -- and the damage done to our credibility and probity.
In referring to the legality of torture, Bush apparently was thinking of a 2002-2003 memo by John Yoo, a Justice Department official who argued military interrogators could subject detainees to harsh treatment as long as it didn't cause "death, organ failure or permanent damage." The memo was rescinded.
Bush, who has insisted "we do not torture," also recently vetoed legislation that explicitly banned torture. Sen. John McCain, whose whole political persona has been defined by the fact that he had been tortured while a prisoner of war during the Vietnam era, supported Bush's veto.
For both Bush and McCain, I recall the words of Joseph Welch, the special counselor for the Army during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings when Welch asked Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis.: "Sir, have you no sense of decency?"
We expected the usual cast of characters including Vice President Dick Cheney to be in on the sinister torture-planning sessions.
But it came as a shock that Gen. Colin Powell, then secretary of state, sat in on the meetings and went along with the planning. Powell had been on record warning against U.S. torture policies on the basis that if we mistreat our prisoners, foreign countries will feel no qualms about abusing American captives in wartime.
Once revered for his integrity, Powell has lost his halo.
Now we have this week's testimony of Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor, who took the witness stand at Guantanamo Bay on behalf of a prisoner. Davis told how top Pentagon officials had pressured him on sensitive prosecutorial decisions for political reasons. He said he was told that the charges against well-known detainees "could have real strategic value" and that there could be no acquittals.
Davis also testified Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann reversed a decision he made and insisted prosecutors proceed with evidence they obtained through waterboarding and other methods of torture.
Davis also testified he was told to speed up the cases to give the system legitimacy before a new president takes over in January.
Is Congress so cowed that it accepts the statements of a president who has little regard for the truth?
Is there no lawmaker who is appalled about the tarnishing of our image in world opinion? And where are the voices of the other presidential candidates who will inherit the Bush legacy of torture? Why the silence?
I count on the American people to refuse to be shamed any more.
Posted by philo2 on Thursday, May 08 @ 22:44:20 MDT (1061 reads)|
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|| War and Mental Illness|
Testimony By M. David Rudd Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology
Texas Tech University
Mr. Chairman and members of the [House] Committee [on Veterans Affairs], thank you for the invitation and opportunity to join you here today [May 6, 2008] and discuss the tragic, but important problem of suicide among our nation’s veterans. I am honored to be here. My scientific and clinical opinions are influenced by a diverse background as a practicing psychologist, clinical researcher whose work focuses on the assessment, management and treatment of suicidality, along with the fact that I’m a veteran.
Having served previously as an Army psychologist, I’m keenly aware of the complexity and challenge of clinical decision making during wartime, the competing demands juggled by military mental health providers, and the arduous task of managing soldiers at risk for suicide both during active duty and after discharge.
As a researcher, I understand suicide is most often the end outcome of a complex web of variables, several easily identified but not so easily treated. As a veteran, I have some understanding of what it means to serve our country, the personal and professional sacrifices that are made, and the potential consequences, but only a fraction compared to those that return from war struggling with injuries both visible and invisible.
The tragic increase in both active duty and veteran suicide rates since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) underscore a seldom recognized but very real fact about mental illness; that it can be fatal.
Data are now available from multiple sources, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the recently released RAND Corporation study, along with the existing literature indicating that anywhere from a quarter to a third of previously deployed veterans present with a mental health problem following discharge. Most prominent among the problems are major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and substance abuse.
Data available prior to the most recent military conflicts (OIF/OEF) indicated heightened suicide risk among the general veteran population, with estimates indicating that veterans are twice as likely to die by suicide, regardless of whether or not they were affiliated with the VA.
More recent data indicate a marked increase in suicide risk among veterans being treated for depression, with the risk being 7-8 times greater than that for the general adult population in the United States. Similarly, recent revelations about suicide and suicide attempt rates among veterans have been alarming, with estimates as high as 18 suicides a day. Recent data on TBI are also of concern, indicating suicide rates in the range of 3-4 times the general population and lifetime suicide attempt rates of 8%, along with significant rates of suicidal ideation (23%). At this point, the relationship between brain injury and suicidality is not well understood.
An accurate and meaningful interpretation of these data requires a look at and consideration of comparable civilian data. Although it is certainly difficult to accurately estimate suicide rates for those in and out of treatment, there is some data for comparison. The suicide prevalence rate for major depression and affective disorders in general (i.e. major depression, bipolar disorder I and II and affective psychosis) is actually lower than often quoted. Rates differ depending on the apparent severity of the illness, with the outpatient suicide prevalence rate being 2%, in contrast to 6% for those previously hospitalized for suicidal symptoms and 4% for those hospitalized for other reasons.
Rates of suicide attempts are much higher. It is estimated that as many 24% of those suffering major depression make a suicide attempt during the course of the illness. It is estimated that up to 50% of individuals with bipolar disorder will make a suicide attempt and up to 80% will manifest suicidal symptoms of some sort.
Standardized mortality ratios (ratio of observed deaths to expected deaths) for major depression and bipolar disorder paint a stark picture; those with major depression evidence a twenty-fold increased risk for death by suicide relative to the general population and those with bipolar disorder a fifteen-fold increase in risk. There are data available regarding other disorders, but the take home message is that the risk for suicide is considerable for a number of mental illnesses. Mental illness can be fatal, particularly if unrecognized, untreated or under-treated.
It is also important to consider the expected rates of adverse events during treatment, in particular, suicide attempt rates. Data are available from randomized clinical trials targeting suicidal behavior (irrespective of diagnosis). Estimates indicate that as many as 40-47% of those receiving treatment (psychotherapy and medications) make suicide attempts during the first year of treatment. If an attempt is made during the first year, the average is approximately 2.5 attempts. This is what routinely happens during treatment.
We also know that an individual making multiple suicide attempts will likely struggle with suicidality for many years, if not a lifetime. These data, coupled with data about recent discharge from the hospital, indicate that risk for suicide (in the context of mental illness) is not only potent but enduring. Standardized mortality ratios (ratio of observed deaths to expected deaths) for men and women recently discharged from the hospital range from 100 to 350 across several studies. These are tragically high numbers. The VA experience is not markedly different than its civilian counterpart when it comes to the presentation of high-risk suicidal patients.
There are several possible conclusions. First, as outlined nicely in the RAND study, there are high rates of psychiatric illness following combat exposure, including both direct and vicarious exposure. Multiple deployments for OIF/OEF likely compound the situation because of repeated combat exposure, sometimes after the initial emergence of symptoms. The VA is faced with assessing and treating large numbers of seriously ill veterans.
Second, the overall rates of both suicide and suicide attempts are tragic but consistent with general trends for the types and observed rates of psychiatric illness. Third, an effective response requires effective resources. Finally, there is an element of this problem that is likely to be enduring and potentially chronic in nature.
The VA has already moved toward increasing recognition and treatment of suicidal veterans, implementing a telephone hotline and making available training on recognizing and responding to suicide warning signs. Treatment outcome studies targeting suicidality have confirmed that simple things work and can save lives. Limiting and removing access to the suspected method can save lives.
Removing barriers to emergency care can save lives.
Patient tracking and effective follow-up for treatment non-compliance can save lives. Evidence-based treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD are effective and can save lives. Despite the fact that treatment is effective, it’s estimated that only about half of those at risk pursue care.
The military and VA system face unique barriers to providing effective care, including issues of confidentiality, delays in evaluating the escalating numbers of service-connected disability claims, and misconceptions about the nature and effectiveness of mental health care.
The FDA warning label for antidepressants is but one example of how misunderstanding of the scientific data can lead to fewer people expressing a willingness to seek care, with potentially tragic results. Science, clinical experience, and common sense converge when it comes to suicidality. Improving our ability to both recognize and respond quickly to those at risk can save lives. Removing barriers to care, particularly emergency care, can and will save lives. Those that have served our nation deserve no less. It is tragic and heartbreaking when a soldier that has survived the trauma of war returns home to die by his or her own hand, especially when treatment is an option.
Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today and welcome the chance to respond to questions.
Posted by philo2 on Thursday, May 08 @ 07:58:43 MDT (2129 reads)|
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|| Senate Intel Committee Reverses, Nobody Notices|
By David Swanson
When Republican Senator Pat Roberts chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, he refused to conduct an investigation into how Bush and Cheney misled the Congress about the case for invading Iraq . The investigation, part of what was known as Phase II, had been agreed to, but Roberts refused to do it prior to the November 2004 elections on the grounds that it could impact the elections. After the elections he refused to do it on the grounds that it didn't matter, what with the elections already being over.
The ranking Democrat on the committee complained loudly for years. Senator Jay Rockefeller used every parliamentary and PR trick available to a ranking member, but was unable to force an investigation. In November of 2005, the minority Democrats forced the Senate into a closed door session in an attempt to pressure Roberts to do the investigation. Rockefeller was still talking about this failed attempt in January of this year.
The elections of 2006 were supposed to change everything. Rockefeller became the chairman of the committee. He could now immediately begin any investigation he chose to. In fact, in January of this year he gave an interview to McClatchy newspapers that suggested he was chomping at the bit.
The new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on the other hand, Silvestre Reyes, announced that he would not investigate anything, he would leave it all to Rockefeller. Rockefeller's pre-2007 theatrics notwithstanding, it was the House that had come closest to pursuing serious investigations prior to the 2006 elections. Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Dennis Kucinich had sponsored resolutions of inquiry that came very close to passing in the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman John Conyers sponsored a bill to create a preliminary impeachment investigation. But with the arrival of 2007, all of those demands for truth and justice vanished. It was no longer appropriate etiquette for Democrats to propose investigations when Democrats were chairing the committees. All that remained was the seeming certainty that Senator Rockefeller would now conduct the investigation he'd been longing to see done for years.
In January, Rockefeller told McClatchy that it was Vice President Dick Cheney who had compelled Roberts to stonewall the investigation. Rockefeller told McClatchy that it was important to complete the Phase II inquiry. "The looking backward creates tension," he said, "but it's necessary tension because the administration needs to be held accountable and the country ... needs to know."
Nine months later, Rockefeller has not conducted the investigation or released a report. On Wednesday, in fact, the Senate unanimously passed an intelligence bill after the Democrats agreed to delete a demand to obtain the archive of daily intelligence briefings given to the president on Iraq between 1997 and 2003. I did not say narrowly passed. I said UNANIMOUSLY.
Now, I will take a back seat to nobody in demanding that children receive health care, but Senator Rockefeller has been spending his time pushing a bill guaranteed to be vetoed and then lamenting the veto. He could have been fighting to keep the teeth in the intelligence bill. He could have been issuing subpoenas. He has yet to issue a single subpoena. He could, for that matter, have simply assigned his staff to write a careful report on the White House war lies based on what is already in the public record. The case is overwhelming. The Senate's official stamp would put that fact on people's televisions and in their newspapers. The case for impeachment would be irresistible.
Why would Rockefeller refrain from even reporting on what he already knows? Perhaps I've answered that question already. The Democrats want to avoid impeachment at all costs. But they must have known last year, and the year before, and the year before that, that lying a nation into war is an impeachable offense. This was widely discussed in the 1780s. It's hardly news.
It's almost as if all Rockefeller's talk prior to the 2006 elections about wanting to uncover the facts had more to do with the elections than any actual interest in accountability. It's almost as if the Senator assumes we've all forgotten. Maybe we have. Has a single reporter asked him where in the world, these nine months later, Phase II is, or why in the world it has been phased out?
Posted by philo2 on Thursday, October 04 @ 03:42:47 MDT (1799 reads)|
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|| Fight or flight: The deserters|
More soldiers are breaking ranks, raising questions of cowardice and conviction.
By Jenny Deam
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 04/15/2007 11:06:25 AM MDT
Justin Colby, 23, who fled Fort Carson in 2006 to avoid being redeployed to Iraq, sits with girlfriend Daysi Camacho in Toronto. (Post / Lyn Alweis)
Toronto - Just before midnight July 4, 2006, as his fellow soldiers slept in the barracks, Justin Colby began to pack.
Fort Carson was quiet that time of night. Colby, two weeks shy of his 23rd birthday, felt his heart race as he stuffed clothes, a DVD player and his computer into a duffel bag. He left behind the fatigues, the bulletproof vest, the helmet, the trappings of a war he had signed up for but no longer believed in.
Colby's 2nd Infantry Division unit was heading west the next day for final training in California before being sent back to Iraq. But Colby went the opposite direction, driving 30 hours straight to his parents' house in rural Massachusetts, where he hid for two months before
Multimedia ; * Watch video interviews with Justin Colby, Lee Zaslofsky and Jeffry House.
fleeing north to Canada.
Today he is a deserter living in Toronto, facing probable court-martial and up to five years in prison if he crosses back into the U.S.
While exact numbers are unknown, some say about 200 U.S. military deserters live in Canada. Some are underground. Others, like Colby, are seeking political refugee status in the Canadian courts, asking for permanent safe haven from a war they believe is no longer just and has turned criminal.
Soldiers are considered deserters after leaving their unit and staying away with the intent of not returning. Typically they are absent without leave, or AWOL, for up to 30 days before being designated a deserter.
Recently, though, the Army has had trouble identifying the number of its deserters. In late March it admitted to poor record keeping and to previously underreporting the number of soldiers who walked away.
Army figures released last week show 1,710 soldiers have deserted in the past six months. The numbers are rising as the war goes on: 3,101 walked away between October 2005 and October 2006; 2,659 walked away during the 12 months before.
At least 2,400 military personnel from other branches also deserted
Indiana National Guard deserter Corey Glass finishes a cigarette before appearing in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. (Post / Lyn Alweis)
between October 2004 and October 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Most deserters do not flee the country. A few who went to Canada have since turned themselves in. One was court-martialed and sentenced to eight months and released after 75 days.
Lt. Col. Bob Tallman, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, says the new numbers represent less than 1 percent of the total fighting force.
"It's not something that is spinning out of control," he says, pointing to the more than 30,000 deserters and draft dodgers who fled to Canada during the Vietnam era in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Troubled soldiers have resources available to them, he says, including asking for conscientious
Joshua Key walks with his wife, Brandi, and their sons, Zackary, 6, Phillip, 2, and Adam, 5, in Toronto. Key joined the Army in 2002 amid financial troubles, lured by income, insurance and talk of no combat duty. (Polaris / Adam Nadel)
objector status or seeking medical and psychiatric evaluations to determine whether they are fit for duty.
But asking for an evaluation "does not mean they would still not redeploy," he says. That decision rests with the chain of command.
To many, today's deserters in Canada - men and women from virtually every branch of the service, some with children in tow - are cowards and traitors to their country.
Others view them as symbols of conviction and a testament to an increasingly unpopular war. They have been elevated to international causes célèbres, interviewed by journalists from France, Germany, Australia, Japan, England.
"To be honest, I don't know how to define myself," Colby
A deserter during the Vietnam War, Lee Zaslofsky now coordinates the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto. He offers modern deserters emotional support and helps them seek political refugee status. (Post / Lyn Alweis)
says. "The Army did a lot of good things for me. It taught me responsibility. But I won't bite my tongue anymore and continue doing something I think is wrong."
Colby, who received a military commendation in Iraq, knows others had it worse. As a medic, the private first class never fired his weapon at an enemy. But he did see the results of war, both in the bodies of friends he logged into the morgue and of the Iraqi children killed in the crossfire by U.S. troops.
"I made my decision in Iraq that I would never do this again," Colby says. "I kept asking everyone, 'What are we doing here?' I was told to stop asking."
So into the starry July night he drove, his body relaxing with each passing mile. As the
"I made my decision in Iraq that I would never do this again. I kept asking everyone, 'What are we doing here?' I was told to stop asking." Justin Colby (Post / Lyn Alweis)
sun rose, he called his mother from the road.
"Well, I did it," he said.
Her silence spoke for all Tammy Colby and her husband, Raymond, could not say: their fear for their firstborn now that he was a fugitive, their disappointment he had not kept a promise to the Army, their worry he would die if he went back to Iraq, their disillusionment with a government that had ordered him there.
She wept when she stashed snacks in her son's backpack and put him on a bus to Canada. Her husband did not come. He has not made peace with his son's decision.
On Sept. 18, 75 days after leaving Fort Carson, Colby arrived in Toronto, having crossed the border without a raised eyebrow. He told immigration officers he was visiting friends.
As he stepped from the bus, he spotted a man with graying hair wearing a T-shirt that read "Let Them Stay."
Thirty-six years before, Lee Zaslofsky had made a similar decision to flee to Canada. The 62-year-old Vietnam War deserter extended a hand to the new generation. "You must be Justin."
LA support system
The phone rings a lot these days at the office of the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto.
Zaslofsky thinks it's because the U.S. fighting force is on its second and third rotations to Iraq. The Army announced last week it was extending the length of duty in Iraq to 15 months from one year.
Two weeks ago, a frantic mother in Utah called to say her son's National Guard unit was about to be sent back to Iraq. "If we drive due north, will there be a place for us?" she asked.
As head of the grassroots campaign, Zaslofsky helps smooth the passage for those who come by offering emotional support, finding temporary housing, guiding them through the paperwork to apply for refugee status so they can get work permits.
His larger mission, though, is to lobby the Canadian government to allow the deserters to stay.
When Zaslofsky was a young soldier who deserted before being sent to Vietnam, it was easier. In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcomed American draft dodgers and deserters by allowing them to apply for residency at the border.
Today it is more complicated.
Across town, in a sparse hearing room, Sgt. Corey Glass of the Indiana National Guard sits quietly waiting to plead his case before the Immigration and Refugee Board. He is 24 but looks younger. His suit, bought two days before, hangs off his shoulders, making him look like a boy playing dress-up.
Like the dozen or so American soldiers who have come before him - Colby's case is expected to be heard soon - Glass will seek refugee status so he can stay in Canada long enough to become a permanent resident.
His attorney, Jeffry House, has argued the Iraq war violates international law and so the deserters should not have to participate.
Glass, who worked in military intelligence, says he was told to "sanitize" reports of civilian casualties or omit information of soldier misconduct.
So far every case to come before the board has failed.
House, 60, is undeterred. Like Zaslofsky, he came to Canada in 1970 after being drafted for the Vietnam War. He also never left Canada, going to law school, raising a family, building a prestigious legal practice.
He remembers when the first of the modern American deserters, Jeremy Hinzman, walked into his office in 2004 asking for help. It was like looking in a mirror.
"They are feeling all of the things I felt 40 years ago," he says. "It seems sad that so little has been learned."
Hinzman's case is considered the test case for all those stuck in legal limbo in Canada. Although his refugee claim was rejected at a lower level, House last month took it to the federal appeals court. No ruling has been made. But the lawyer is prepared to take it to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Economics of duty
The U.S. draft ended in 1973. Some say, though, it has been unofficially replaced by an economic draft.
"They go to Wal-Mart, go to McDonald's, or they go to the Army," says Zaslofsky, repeating what soldiers tell him.
Joshua Key was a welder and part-time pizza deliveryman in Oklahoma with a wife, two kids and a baby on the way. "I couldn't make ends meet," he says.
In May 2002, a recruiter in a strip mall offered a deal too good to refuse: steady pay, health insurance and, because he was a father, no combat duty.
But by fall when Key arrived at Fort Carson, the rumors of war had begun. He and others in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment figured if war came it would be over quickly.
And, in fact, when Key first arrived in Iraq, there was virtually no resistance. He says he was taught how to blow doors off houses and search for terrorists and caches of weapons. In 200 raids, the private first class says, he never found more than the occasional rifle.
All males over 5 feet tall were to be handcuffed and sent away for interrogation, he says. The women and children were to be held at gunpoint, Key says. He adds that any money or valuables were fair game and admits pocketing his share. After all, he figured, they were the enemy.
His uneasiness grew as the violence around him escalated. The tipping point came one day when his unit was traveling along the Euphrates River and happened upon the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis. He says he was ordered to find evidence of a firefight. He found none.
But he says he did see a panicked American soldier screaming "We (expletive) lost it here" as other soldiers kicked the heads like soccer balls.
"I'm not going to have no part of this," he says he told his commander. During a leave six months later, Key told his wife he wasn't going back: "I couldn't help but think we had become the terrorists. What if it was us and someone came breaking into our homes and held guns at our children?"
He asked the military for a reassignment. He was told he had two choices: Get on a plane to Iraq, or go to prison. "The only thing I could see to do was run."
His family hid for months in Philadelphia, but the constant fear drove him north to Canada. Today he, his wife, Brandi, and their children live in rural Saskatchewan.
Key wrote a book called "The Deserter's Tale." Soon after it was published, he says, Army investigators began contacting people in Canada looking for him. They said they wanted to talk about his book.
"What should I do?"
Justin Colby is finally at ease. He shares a house in Toronto with three roommates. He has a new girlfriend and a job working for a photo supply company. His mother visited last month. His father stayed home.
Last summer Justin's dad, Raymond Colby, 46, was stopped by Monson, Mass., police for going 1 mph over the speed limit. The officer, explaining the department had been called by the Army, pleaded with him to turn in Justin. They said they didn't want to come looking for him.
But he also remembers finding his son sitting alone in the dark while on leave. "I can't sleep, Dad. I've got stuff in my head I can't get out."
The older man felt helpless. "Dad," his son once said, "if I go back, I'm gonna die. What should I do?"
Justin quit high school between his junior and senior years. He got his GED but no job. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he started talking to recruiters. His family thought the Army might be what he needed to gain maturity.
He enlisted in the fall of 2003 after being told the terrorist attacks and the Iraq war were connected. "I thought (Iraqis) were the bad guys and we should kill them all. It was like a video game."
Colby flourished in his first posting in South Korea. Then he was reassigned to Iraq.
When Colby returned from his tour in Iraq, his father saw troubling changes. His son had lost weight; he was agitated, hardened.
Colby met a woman in Colorado, and within weeks they were married. Just as quickly the marriage fell apart. They have a son together. Colby says he is trying to hold onto his parental rights from Canada.
In Toronto, the other deserters sometimes gather for dinner or drinks to stave off loneliness. Colby rarely joins them. He stays in touch with soldiers still in Iraq through MySpace .com. He once got a message from one of his buddies: "Good luck in Canada. Don't be a stranger."
"It was a big deal leaving my country," Colby says, admitting he doesn't know what he'll do if his refugee status is denied.
He just knows he can't go home again.
Posted by philo2 on Friday, May 11 @ 23:49:08 MDT (2013 reads)|
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| Old Articles|
|Monday, January 08|
|·|| No More War Bucks for Baghdad: A Civil Demand |
|Sunday, October 22|
|·|| After Pat Tillman's Birthday 2006 |
|Tuesday, September 26|
|·|| Lt. General Odom speaks truth in basement |
|Saturday, September 16|
|·|| Johnstone: 9/11 In Theory and in Fact |
|Thursday, July 20|
|·|| Ten Questions for Movement Building |
|Saturday, July 01|
|·|| Supreme Court: The Answer is Clear |
|Friday, June 30|
|·|| Death, Unemployment, and Surveillance: Falluja Today |
|Friday, June 02|
|·|| Letter from Tony Christini |
|Sunday, March 05|
|·|| Watching the Watchers |
|Monday, February 13|
|·|| Bush v. People of the USA |