Friday, March 20, 2009

The Contract

by Robin Long
from inside the Miramar Brig

March 12, 2009

IN 2004, when military resister Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada, the Conservative government stepped in to his Refugee hearing and stated evidence challenging the legality of the War in Iraq can’t be used in his case. However, the U.N Handbook for Refugee’s and the Nuremburg Principles states: a soldier of an Army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service. Said soldier also has the right to seek refugee protection in any country that is signatory to the Geneva Convention. By refusing to allow him- and by precedent ALL other claimants the right to use that argument, they closed the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.

THE US invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal war of aggression. The US was not under attack, or the immanent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq, nor was the war approved by the UN Security Council. By taking the stance it did, the Canadian Government implicitly condoned the invasion & continuing occupation of Iraq. Is that what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have come to realize it a mistake, at best. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding on to the idea, and still deporting war resisters? Why are they separating families and aiding in the imprisonment of morally strong men and women?

IN JUNE 2007, Canada’s Parliament voted on a non- binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. That vote passed, and in agreement with that vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution. In defiance of parliaments intent and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government, led by Prime Minister Steven Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley ignored the bill. The Government stated: All refugee claimants are given a fair chance to plead their case before the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters were unfair to other claimants. Further, they stated that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the US, and that the US has a fair and transparent justice system, and that we wouldn’t be singled out for being political.

ON JULY 14th, 2008, in my final attempt to stay in Canada, where my son and community is, Federal Judge Ann Mactavish stated that I didn’t prove I would be treated harshly by the US military for being a politically outspoken opponent to the War in Iraq and Bush Administration policy. She predicted my punishment would be minimal, 30 days in the brig, perhaps. She then cleared the way for my deportation/extradition. She noted only10% of these cases go to Court Martial.

A MONTH later, I was tried in a Court Martial presided over by a judge, a Colonel in the US Army, who has President Bush in her chain-of-command. (She was later appointed by Bush to oversee trials at Guantanamo Bay, no doubt because of her political credentials.

THE ONLY aggravating evidence the Prosecution presented was a 6 minute video of me stating, among other things, that I believed my President lied to me. A political statement. The fact that this was found admissible in court for the charge of Desertion is beyond me. There were no character witnesses brought against me. The ONLY factors the Prosecution wanted shown in determining my sentence was the fact I was political and exercising my freedom of speech in criticizing my Commander-in-Chief.

IT SEEMS like a conflict of interest to have a judge determine my fate when she has to ultimately answer to the President, while I was claiming that same President was a domestic enemy, who used any reason, and manufactured reasons, to invade and wreak havoc in Iraq.

THE JUDGE came back with 30 months- that’s two and a half years for not showing up for work that I believed to be morally objectionable, criminal, and its by far the harshest sentence given to a resister/deserter of the Iraq War.

I was saved from that by a plea bargain that got me 15 months. I STILL get a Dishonorable Discharge (DD). A DD will keep me from many fields of employment, from any Government position to the civilian world. It will make getting home loans all the harder. This is a FELONY CONVICTION- which will make it very hard, perhaps impossible to return to Canada to be with my young family. It is the worst grade of discharge there is.

PEOPLE THAT committed far worse crimes have been getting off with lighter sentences than me. 1st Infantry Division soldier Spec. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to only 7 months after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder- 4 Iraqi men. I refused to participate in killings, he stood guard while others executed four unidentified Iraqi men, afterwards dumping their bodies in a Baghdad canal on ’07. During his court martial Ramos admitted his guilt, stating: “I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification to do this.”

WHERE IS THE JUSTICE? The system is neither fair nor impartial. Can it really be transparent when you don’t know who is influencing the judge from up the chain of command? Do you see how the military justice system works? – Condone killings with light sentences, but God forbid someone should call President Bush a liar and a war monger. A persons words and political opinion must be far more damaging to the good order of the military if they are anti war and critical of the President, than a soldiers criminal actions in an occupied foreign nation…..

PEOPLE HAVE used the argument that I signed a contract, quite often. I’d like to quote from a letter one o the Founders of our United States wrote to General Washington concerning his thoughts on contracts in April, 1793: “When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes destructive to the Party, the law of self-preservation overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of these principals I appeal to the true fountains of evidence: the head and heart of every rational honest man.”- Thomas Jefferson. For me to continue in my military contract would have been destructive to me as a person with my views, morals and ideals. Let alone the Iraqi’s, who have died in the hundreds of thousands ….

THE CONTRACT I signed was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to obey the LAWFUL orders of the President and those officers over me. I did not sign to be a strong arm for corporate interests or oil. The so called Liberation of Iraq has turned into nothing more than a constant and protracted struggle by the people of Iraq, against forces, seen and unseen, that are trying to impose their will on them in a public war for private power and profit. True freedom is the ultimate expression and condition of a people to control their OWN destiny, not the manufactured variety being offered here. True democracy is not found at the point of a gun. It rises up from within the mass of the people.

IT WASN’T about WMD’s, or we would have found some. It wasn’t about “regime change” or we would have been in Darfur, or Indonesia, or a dozen other countries. It wasn’t about 9/11 because they were from Saudi Arabia. It dosn’t say anywhere in my contract that I would be going to foreign soil, half way around the world, to invade a country that was of no threat to the United States.

TO RISK MY LIFE, not in defending the people or Constitution of the United States but creating more enemies for them by being in an occupying force. Iraq, however unhappy under our former ally/client Hussein, was never a real threat. The destabilized nation of Iraq has become a breeding ground and awesome recruiting tool for Al Queda. It has cost the American people an enormous price. Im not talking just te trillion dollar financial burden, but the human cost of the war. The deaths of so many of our brave youth, the missing limbs, the PTSD, the suicides. The invasion has made far more enemies for the United States and made the world a far more dangerous place.

THE ORDER to go to Iraq was not a lawful one. It violates our Constitution. Article IV states that ANY treaty the US is signatory to shall be the supreme law of the land. Last time I checked, the US is signatory to the Geneva Conventions. There are certain laws in that treaty for declaring war, last time I checked, “regime change” wasn’t one of them. A country must be under attack or immanent treat of attack. Neither was true in the case of Iraq. President Bush had no right to interpret the Constitution as he saw fit, on the grounds it was a new world after 9/11, and the 107th Congress had no right to pass HJ Res. 114, which “allowed” the President to invade Iraq. The Constitution was being ignored by the whole lot of them and they were derelict in their duty to uphold it.

THE STAND that the Conservative government of Canada has taken has separated a family, an act totally un-Canadian. I have a young son, a Canadian citizen, and a Canadian partner with MS, left to raise our son while I’m locked in a brig for refusing to participate in a war Canada , in 2003, under a different Government, wouldn’t send troops to. Back then, they saw the holes in Bush’s “intelligence”. By deporting me, and not giving me a chance to leave willingly, I have been barred from entering Canada for at least 10 years. My flesh and blood is there!

THE CONSERVATIVES are destroying Canada’s tradition of being a refuge from militarism and an asylum from injustices that goes back to the times of slavery. Are they truly representing the people? Who are they working for, really?

THE DAYS of Bush have ended. This new Obama administration has a different view and a different policy. Its now time for Mr Harper to change his view. He should listen to Parliament and the solid majority of his citizens!

PLEASE SUPPORT the movement to allow War Resisters to stay in Canada and pardon the ones in the US. I ask anyone who reads this: please!

HELP ME return to Canada to be with my partner and son. I want only to live in peace and be in his life.


Peace, love, light,
Robin Long
Incarcerated Prisoner of the US Military
PO BOX 452136, San Diego, CA, 92145

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Army Charges Cliff Cornell with Desertion

AWOL GI Was Denied Sanctuary in Canada

The U.S. Army has charged war resister Clifford Cornell with desertion. Specialist Cornell, 28, surrendered himself to authorities at Fort Stewart, Georgia on February 17, after being denied refugee status in Canada. The Arkansas native left Fort Stewart four years ago, when his artillery unit was ordered to Iraq. According to family and friends, Cornell did not want to kill civilians, and said that Army trainers told him he must shoot any Iraqi who came near his vehicle.

Cornell’s attorney and supporters believe the Army’s charges are excessive.
“Cliff Cornell is a conscientious objector who voluntarily turned himself in to Army authorities,” said attorney James Branum.. “The Army is engaging in overkill in order to make an example of my client.”

Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson disputed Spc. Cornell's claims that he would have been expected to kill civilians. ''Indiscriminately shooting people is not what the Army does,” Larson told the New York Times. “That's not how we train and not how we fight.” The Army is leaning toward trying Cornell in a General Court Martial, which could sentence him to years in prison.

“This is outrageous,” said Jeff Paterson of Courage To Resist, a war resister support group that has established a legal defense fund for Cornell. “The U.S. war against the Iraqi people remains illegal today, just as when George Bush and Dick Cheney started it,” said Paterson. “President Obama should bring all our troops home now. And he should grant amnesty to Cliff Cornell and hundreds of GI’s who refused to take part in an occupation that has killed untold tens of thousands of men, women and children.”

U.S. war resisters in Canada were distressed to hear of the serious charges against Cornell, as were many Canadians who have been pressing their government to provide sanctuary to the war resisters. “Cliff Cornell is a very gentle man who made many friends in Canada,” said Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is absolutely wrong to claim that war resisters do not face persecution in the United States.”

A large majority of Canadians, 64% according to several polls, want to provide a safe haven for soldiers who refused to fight in the Iraq War, just as Canada itself refused to do. Most Members of Parliament also support the resisters. In June of last year, the House of Commons passed a motion calling on their government to provide sanctuary to “conscientious objectors who refuse to fight in wars not sanctioned by the United Nations.” But the minority Conservative government ignored the non-binding motion and began to deport war resisters.

War resister Robin Long was the first to be deported last July, and is now serving a 15-month prison sentence in the Miramar Naval Consolidated Brig near San Diego. Cliff Cornell was being threatened with deportation when he left Canada. Several other AWOL soldiers and their families are appealing their deportation orders in Canada’s Federal Courts.

“Cliff Cornell should not be the one who is going to jail,” said Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace. “He had the guts to follow his conscience, and unlike President Bush, he obeyed international law.”

An estimated 250 U.S. war resisters are now living in Canada, and AWOL GI’s continue to arrive there. “You can still apply for refugee status and expect to remain legally in Canada for at least one year,” said Condon. “It may not be easy, but it beats going to war or going to jail.”


James Branum, GI Right Lawyer, 866-933-2769,

Jeff Paterson, Courage To Resist, 415-279-9697,

Michelle Robidoux, War Resisters Support Campaign, 416-856-5008,

Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace, 206-499-1220,