Free Robin Long

WAR RESISTER | SOLDIER OF CONSCIENCE

The Contract – written by Robin from inside the Miramar Brig March 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — James M. Branum @ 8:03 am

12 March 2009
THE CONTRACT

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.

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

 

Robin’s Blog from Jail – September 21, 2008 October 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — James M. Branum @ 10:47 pm

Editor’s Note: This is the first blog post written by Robin from inside the military prison at Mirarmar. You can download a PDF of the actual letter that Robin sent me from jail here, or you can read it below here (I did fix some grammar and spelling issues)

Blog 21 September 2008

I am locked up at The Naval Consolidated Brig at Miramar, just North of San Diego. It’s quite a change from Nelson, British Columbia, where I have caled home. I feel as if I have been torn away from my home, family and friends!

I feel as if I was a pawn, a gift from one regime to another (Harper to Bush). For my Canadian friends, and people I don’t know, Stop this! Fight this! Don’t let another conscientious objector, war reister, person of conscience and morals to be deported.

For my fellow Americans, keep courageously driving on to stop this war and undo the mess that the last 8 yers of Bush has brought to our great country. I have received many letters of support. We are strong! We can be an example. We can spread the word and mobilize and protest the atrocities. It is esy for me to be locked up knoing I stood up for what is right! This is but a bump in the rooad. They will never grind me down! I will only come out stronger! And guess what? I can now protest from within this country!

Peace love light

My favorite quotes

“A soldier is just a uniform following orders. A warrior is a person who stands up for what is right even in the face of adversity.”

“Those that can get you to believe absurdities, can get you to commit atrocities!” – Voltaire

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything” – Jimmi Hendrixx

“We can bomb the world into pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace!” – Michael Franti

 

Press Coverage August 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — James M. Branum @ 4:06 pm

I’ll be adding links to much of the media coverage of Robin Long’s case over the next day or two. You can find the links on the Media link at the top of this page.

To give you an inkling of how much press there has been, Robin’s story has been featured in the press of 10 different countries and has even made the NY Times. It was also front-page news in the local Colorado Springs newspaper.

 

Media cover Robin Long sentencing August 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rena @ 12:28 am

New York Times: Soldier Who Deserted to Canada Draws 15-Month Term

DENVER — An American soldier who fled to Canada rather than fight in Iraq pleaded guilty to a desertion charge Friday and was sentenced by an Army judge to 15 months in a military prison.

The soldier, Pfc. Robin Long, 25, of Boise, Idaho, who left his unit in 2005 on grounds of moral opposition to the war, will also be dishonorably discharged and demoted to private E-1, the Army’s lowest rank.

AP: Soldier gets 15 months in prison for desertion


The Gazette, Colorado Springs: Fort Carson deserter sentenced to 15 months in prison
(local daily newspaper)

Pfc. Robin Long, who fled rather than reporting for duty at Fort Carson in 2005, told court-martial judge Col. Debra Boudreau that he left the country because of moral objections to what he termed an “illegal war.” The judge came back with a 15-month sentence after prosecutors argued that Long “abandoned his duty, his honor and his country.”

[…]

Prosecutors called no witnesses to disparage Long’s character. Instead, they showed a six-minute video of Long, sporting dreadlocks and a beard, telling a Canadian news reporter “I think I was lied to by my president.”

In his testimony, Long talked about his life in Canada and attacked the war in Iraq.

“I feel the war on terror is a war on peace,” Long testified, saying he plans to move back to Canada, where he has a girlfriend and a son born while he was on the run. In Nelson, British Columbia, Long said he perfected his organic gardening skills and converted his Volkswagen to run on recycled cooking oil.

Long told the judge he wanted to serve little or no jail time, but he would take a bad conduct discharge as punishment.

He wrapped up his time on the stand by telling the judge, “Peace, love and light.”

KRDO, Colorado Springs: Soldier Sentenced For Desertion
( local TV news coverage, with video)

He’s doing okay,” said James Branam, the civilian defense attorney hired by peace activists supporting Long. “He felt good that he got to speak his mind about why he did what he did. He knows that he did the legally wrong thing, but the morally right thing.”

Long’s lawyer says he reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to desertion with intent to remain away permanently, a lesser charge than desertion with intent to shirk hazardous duty. The judge initially sentenced Long to 30 months, but an earlier plea agreement gave him the lesser sentence.

Long’s suporters felt the sentence is too harsh. “He’s a young man who is a very good man,” said retired Col. Mary Ann Wright, a former Army diplomat. “He’s got principles, honor and courage. Four or five months is pretty common among all the ones who have gone AWOL and been public about it.”

CBC News, Canada: U.S. soldier jailed 15 months for desertion
(Comments to this article show many Canadians outraged by their conservative government’s policy of deporting US war resisters who have fled north.)

 

Robin Long gets harsh sentence from Army August 22, 2008

Filed under: Trial and legal issues — Rena @ 8:18 pm

Today at Ft. Carson, Colorado, the Army sentenced war resister Robin Long to 15 months in the stockade and a dishonorable discharge. The punishment is clearly an effort to make an example of the case, to discourage others from following Robin’s example of refusing to fight an illegal, immoral war.

More details soon.

 

 
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