July 30, 2012

From Courage To Resist-US war resister in sanctuary of Canadian church

By Bob Meola, Courage to Resist. July 8, 2012

Join us in helping Rodney with his monthly food and phone expenses. Please donate via our friends at vancouverwarresisters.org with a one-time or monthly PayPal contribution.

War Resister Rodney Watson wishes he could be with his parents and other family and friends in his home town of Kansas City, Missouri. He’d like to see his wife and four year old son more than just on weekends in Vancouver, B.C. too. He’d also like to take his young family home to the United States and have his wife and his son meet his parents. But he can’t. Rodney has been living in the sanctuary of United Church in Vancouver since September 18, 2009. He eats and sleeps there and still cannot leave the Church without the risk of being deported back to the United States and to a military brig. After a tour of Iraq, in which he witnessed the senseless brutality of the war and the same racism toward the Iraqi people by U.S. enlisted soldiers and American contractors that he knew so well from experiencing it as an African-American, growing up in the United States, Rodney was stop-lossed.

Army Spc. Rodney Watson joined the Army in 2004 under a three year contract. In 2005, he was deployed to Iraq. He signed up to be a cook and instead was made to search vehicles and Iraqi civilians for explosives, contraband and weapons before they entered the base. In 2006, when his tour of duty there was over, he was informed that his contractual obligation to serve in the Army was being extended , without his consent, and he would not be discharged from military service at the agreed upon time. Rodney was a victim of the Army Stop Loss program. Rather than continue to serve in the Army and face re-deployment to Iraq in a war he knew was illegal and immoral, Rodney deserted and took refuge in Canada.

Presently, Rodney finds himself in a legal limbo that has meant no change in his case for quite a while. His lawyer will soon be re-submitting an application for him to be granted asylum on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds so that he can stay in Canada and be able to resume being a father to his four year old son and a husband on a daily basis. Because Rodney is confined to the church, he only sees his wife and his son on weekends.

Rodney recently told me, “Any conscientious objector to the Iraq war should not be punished because our leader, George Bush, himself went AWOL. No Iraq war Veteran should be punished for waking up and going AWOL after George W. Bush went AWOL from the National Guard and then later led us into a war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction. He should be locked up and not any of us awakened veterans from that Iraq war. The war criminals are free while I’m sitting in sanctuary in a church not able to go out in public. Thousands more [war resisters] are underground in the states who had disagreement with that war. It doesn’t make any sense to be punished for your conscience. I’m not a pacifist but the Iraq war was an unnecessary aggression and it was for natural resources and based on lies.

“If there is anything I can say to my fellow troops who are waking up to the lies and corporate greed and corruption, it is that I salute you and real change is not made by silence. I salute you for standing up and speaking out.

“I still love America. It’s my home. I miss my home. We’re in a state of endless war. I would like to be able to cross any border freely as a free man. There should be amnesty for Iraq war veterans. There are soldiers, here in Canada, who have come with their families from the states and soldiers who have made families here. There should be amnesty for those who have woken up to the lies and the corruption of the Iraq War.

Join us in helping Rodney with his monthly food and phone expenses. Please donate via our friends at vancouverwarresisters.org with a one-time or monthly PayPal contribution.

“I’m treated like a dangerous criminal because I decided that war wasn’t worth killing over. Why are we punished for saying we don’ t want to risk our lives for it anymore? I have a very deep feeling that there is going to be some kind of atonement for this. This is not right. This war was evil. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush are running around free. If that’s not an axis of evil, I don’t know what is. “I thought I’d be protecting my country when I joined the Army. It was a lie.

“Being a deserter and a refugee has put a strain on my marriage and family. My wife is presently going to school to become a nurse’s aide. I risked my life for a stupid war that was wrong. I have no fear of risking my freedom and my life again for what is right—for truth.

“I just feel in my heart that I have every right to speak my mind against this war that I was involved in because I was actually there and I lost my friend there and I risked my own life for a war that was based on lies.”

Rodney appreciates the support he has received from Courage to Resist, the War Resisters’ Support Campaign, and donations from individual Quakers. It is fundraising for him that has sustained him. Rodney welcomes anyone who wants to connect with him to do so at his Facebook page, War Resister in Sanctuary.

Bob Meola is a member of the Courage to Resist Organizing Collective, the War Resisters League National Committee and the Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee. As a City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner, he authored the city's resolutions honoring Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters, making Berkeley a sanctuary city for war resisters and urging Universal Unconditional Amnesty for war resisters.

May 4, 2012

work to ground the killer drones

"Looks like the beginning of a Ghandian wave!"

On Wednesday, Ed Kinane and Dick Keough of Syracuse were arrested at Hancock Field. They were standing with their signs across from the gate at the base as they have for two years, twice a month. At the beginning of these vigils a couple years ago, they were told by the sheriff and deputies that as long as they stayed off the road and didn't cause a safety hazard or attempt to enter the base it was ok.

 However the base seems to be getting rattled by the presence of the demonstrators. As soldiers and other workers leave leave their jobs each day, they see the signs informing and reminding them of the crimes they are committing and the victims they are killing with the drones . The demonstrators stand there from 4:15 to 5pm.

 Thirty-three people were arrested on April 22 as they walked orderly in single file to deliver an indictment for war crimes to the base. Most of them never made it there, victims of a mass violation of their first amendment rights. On May 2nd, Ed and Dick were arrested by the Onondaga County Sheriffs Department. They were told the base had filed a complaint to have them removed. The sheriff's deputies obliged. Before they were arrested they had a lengthy discussion on first amendment rights, But ultimately the armed men handcuffed the peaceful protesters and put them in their vehicles. Theactivists said they have been coming here for years and would continue, leaving at 5pm as usual. At three minutes before five the cop told them they had to leave now or be arrested. Dick said it wasn't 5 o'clock yet. If the Air Force had sent its soldiers into the civilian streets to round up citizens, it wouldn't look good since they weren't doing anything wrong. So they had the Sheriff's deputies do the dirty work.

What this amounts to is the military taking over the civilian streets and the deputies bowing to their new masters. During our arraignments, the judge gave us a document showing us an email and his response to it. The email demonstrated an illegal attempt to influence the court by one of the town's councilors asking the judge to dismiss the case.

 "...I am of the opinion we do not spend Town resources on what is a federal issue. As head of the budget committee I am asking that we do not spend any dollars on prosecuting this nor additional court room security. Please advise and let me know what has been charged to the Town to date and how we can dismiss at no more charges. Thank you, Kerry Mannion."

 As the resistance to the killer drones grows here in upstate NY and across the country, and the militarization of our police forces increase, we can expect the military to increase efforts to suppress opposition. I hope the actions by people like Ed and Dick inspire others and becomes the norm in America.

 As Paul Frazier put it, "Looks like the beginning of a Ghandian wave!"

April 16, 2012

Bizarre response to drone protest this past weekend

the video starts out choppy; stick with it.
Brian Terrell:
I was arrested yesterday at Whiteman AFB (drone control center) before this bizarre drill team routine was performed. This is NOT Monty Python! It is a gasp of dying empire, quite literally scared silly by its own citizens. "Come out, come out, where ever you are," Kathy Kelly sings to reassure these frightened children. "What a world, what a world..."

love to all...

April 9, 2012

Peace Activist, Leah Bolger, Protests the Congressional Super Committee.

Leah Bolger:
"I will be pleading guilty at a hearing on Thursday, 12 April, 2012. There will be a press conference at 8:30 am that morning in front of the DC Superior Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington DC."

"It will take every one of us." - Paul Gilding

-thanks to Bryan Waters

Obomba and his military & corporate continue to kill innocent people

I can't figure out why people aren't outraged by the killing and brutality like this during the Bush administration as it continues under Obomba.


Blackwater in Iraq (1 of 5) from Harper's Magazine on Vimeo.

Published on Thursday, April 5, 2012 by Common Dreams
Videos Show Blackwater in Iraq Running Over Woman, Firing into Traffic
- Common Dreams staff

Videos posted by Harper's Magazine show the private contractor formerly known as Blackwater in Iraq running over a woman with a car, smashing into Iraqis' cars to move them out of the way and firing a rifle into traffic.

The behavior by Blackwater seen in the videos adds even more fuel to evidence that the company "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

The videos are included in a piece by Charles Glass entitled “The Warrior Class” that looks at the rise of private security contractors. Glass had been shown the videos by a former Blackwater employee.

Describing the video dated April 2006 that shows the woman being hit by a Blackwater vehicle, Glass writes: "A woman in a black full-length burka began to cross the street. The vehicle struck the woman and knocked her unconscious body into the gutter. The cars slowed for a moment, but did not stop, nor did they even determine whether the victim was dead or alive. A voice in the car taking the video said, 'Oh, my God!' Yet no one was heard on the radio requesting help for her. Most sickeningly, the sequence had been set to an AC/DC song, whose pounding, metallic chorus declared: 'You’ve been… thunderstruck!'"

Glass writes that the tape he was shown ended with the inscription, "In support of security, peace, freedom and democracy everywhere."

Blackwater in Iraq (5 of 5) from Harper's Magazine on Vimeo.

April 6, 2012

"How can I wash this blood off my hands? Where is my soul? it's lost in the sand"

LA Times Editors Cut Impact of Killing on Combat Stress



To the LA Times credit, they published an article, "Stress of combat reaches drone crews," by David Zucchino about the impact of combat stress (Post-Traumatic stress) on the Air Force pilots who are remotely guiding drones. But the LA Times Editors cut a key section of the story, included in the original version by David Zucchino, that would have explained to readers that combat stress is caused, not just by the trauma of being shot at, but by the trauma of killing others.

The article as written sounds mystified about what might be causing their combat stress. The Stars and Stripes picked up the story, and many of the comments on the article dismissed the idea that these pilots could possibly be impacted by post-traumatic stress, since they are safe from being shot at. Unfortunately, many people in the military, and many veterans, aren't being informed about, or being helped to deal with, the psychological damage caused by inflicting injuries on and killing other people. The LA Times Editors, by cutting this section out of the article, are, at best, omitting information that could help hundreds of thousands of suffering veterans. It's hard to avoid speculating that the LA Times Editors cut this section in an attempt to sugar-coat the horrors of war.

Of course, the article also did not address the psychological impact on civilian populations of being hit by drones, but that's a topic for a different article. Here, I want to address: what I know about how the LA Times cut the article, the crucial impact that killing has on the suffering of veterans, especially those experiencing post-traumatic stress; the ways in which the DoD, the VA, and even the Institute of Medicine are also ignoring these findings; and the devastating impact of this neglect.

Trauma of Killing - Cut for Space?

I emailed the author of the LA Times article to complain about this omission. David Zucchino kindly wrote back, telling me, "My original story did indeed have a short section on the effects of killing, but it was edited out for space. So it goes in the ever-shrinking world of original journalism." (Zucchino authorized me to quote his email). Editing out the key section of an article that would go a long way to explaining the phenomenon described in the rest of the article sounds more like a political decision than a journalistic one. In journalistic editing, you're supposed to cut the material that is least important to the story, not the most salient insights.

Killing is a Major Contributor to Post-Traumatic Stress - But the Military Ignores this Reality

Dan Baum, in his award-winning article "The Price of Valor" in the New Yorker (pdf), describes the work of Lt. Col. Grossman, who wrote the book On Killing, The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society:

A military “conspiracy of silence” surrounds the topic, Grossman argues, because the Army hasn’t confronted the issue of how psychologically fraught is the killing that its soldiers are ordered to do. In “On Killing,” Grossman writes, “If society prepares a soldier to overcome his resistance to killing and places him in an environment in which he will kill, then that society has an obligation to deal forthrightly, intelligently, and morally with the psychological event.”

Grossman has argued with the military and the VA for years against neglecting this topic. Grossman's website is called killology.com.

Rachel MacNair analyzed data from Vietnam Veterans suffering from PTSD and coined the term PITS (Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress) in her book of the same name to explain her findings. On her website, she summarizes:

Even so, people were still thinking in terms of PTSD being caused entirely by being a victim of a trauma. The soldier was scared of being shot, the soldier was grieved over buddies being shot. The idea that the act of shooting could be traumatizing to the soldier rarely occurred to people. When it did, it was mainly the "atrocities" -- killing civilians or prisoners in gory ways -- that got the attention, not the ordinary killing of traditional combat.

More recently, some research has been done on this. From U.S. government data on its Vietnam veterans, those who say they killed have more severe PTSD than those who say they did not. It was not just that they were in more intense battle, because those who killed in light combat had heavier PTSD scores than those who did not kill even though in heavy combat. The form of PTSD shows those who say they killed had much more by way of intrusive imagery -- nightmares, flashbacks, unwanted thoughts that just will not go away -- and also much more by way of irritable outbursts. They also tended to have higher scores on measures of alienation, hypervigilance, and feelings of disintegration. But those who had not killed were more likely to have the pattern of concentration and memory problems. (For the statistical analysis MacNair conducted of the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, see pp. 174-181 of her book).

As Dan Baum documents in the article cited above, the VA has also been reluctant to address the issue of the trauma of killing directly, thus impeding the treatment of veterans. He interviewed Dan Knox, a Vietnam veteran, who told him:

In order to properly treat combat veterans, Knox said, the V.A. would have to change its mission. “They’d have to change from the ‘me’ to the ‘I.’ Not just ‘What happened to me?’ but ‘What did I do?’ But they can’t go there.” The V.A., Knox said, “is not there for the veteran. They’re there as a palliative for the non-veteran. To make people feel good, like they’re doing something for the vet.” Knox occasionally speaks to high-school students about war, but he is rarely invited back. The message he tries to leave behind is: “Killing people sucks.”

Hundreds of Thousands of Veterans Are at Risk

In "Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Preliminary Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families" the Institute of Medicine, under contract from the Department of Defense, attempted to conduct an overview of the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They report:

A recent RAND report (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008) estimated that some combination of comorbid PTSD, major depression, and TBI is not uncommon in OEF and OIF veterans. The report noted that about one-third of service members who have been deployed have at least one of the three conditions, and about 5% manifest symptoms of all three (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008). Furthermore, of 289,328 OEF and OIF veterans seen at VA health care facilities following deployment, 106,726 (36.9%) received mental health diagnoses and of those receiving any such diagnosis, 29% had two and 33% had 3 or more different mental health conditions (Seal et al., 2009). Of those veterans, 62,929 (21.8%) were diagnosed with PTSD and 50,432 (17.4%) with depression. (page 64)


In a RAND study of OEF and OIF veterans, 18.5% reported depression or PTSD (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008), slightly higher than the prevalence found in its review of 22 other studies, which showed that 5––15% of veterans experienced PTSD symptoms when deployed to war zones. The study also suggested that prevalence of PTSD symptoms increases with time after deployment (the readjustment period) (Tanielian and Jaycox, 2008). (page 68)


Repeated deployments themselves have also contributed to mental health issues. About 27% of those who have been deployed three or four times have received diagnoses of depression, anxiety, or acute stress compared with 12% of those deployed once (MHAT-V, 2008). (page 29)

According to the report, over 1.9 million soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Even if we utilize the (very) low-end estimate reported above that 10% of these soldiers are suffering or will suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress, it is reasonable to expect that over 190,000 veterans of these wars will suffer from PTSD as a result of their war experiences, and it is quite possible that the real number of sufferers will be twice as high. As reported above, almost as many will suffer from depression and endure other mental health problems.

Yet despite the distinguished panel who worked on this official report for the Institute of Medicine, the word "kill" does not appear in the report, except to note that asking for mental health services is known in the services as a "stripe killer," i.e. a barrier to promotion.

I don't know how many of the 1.9 million soldiers deployed killed or believe they killed anyone (no one does, partially because the military doesn't ask in its psychological questionnaires upon leaving the military). But the real psychological needs of these soldiers and veterans are rendered invisible by reports such as the one above from the IOM, and from the LA Times story on drone operators.

Of course, when discussing these kinds of numbers, the pain of each and every veteran can get lost, so I'm including below a video for a song by a veteran who goes by the name of Washed Up Soulja. This is his "PTSD Song," and it speaks eloquently to the powerful role of guilt as he struggles to survive post-traumatic stress. Warning: this song describes suicidal ideation. If you or anyone you know is considering harming yourself, please get assistance and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, and if you're a veteran, push 1, or text 838255. (According to the IOM study quoted above, "Veterans were twice as likely to die of suicide as nonveterans in the general population (Kaplan et al., 2007)." (page 70).

Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War are two organizations seeking to address these traumas. VFP organizes Healing the Wounds of War projects, for example, through which veterans help rebuild civilian lives in Vietnam and Iraq. IVAW co-sponsors the War is Trauma art project, has initiated Operation Recovery, a campaign to stop the re-deployment of soldiers already suffering from trauma, and has a list of additional resources for veterans.

When young people are being recruited, military recruiters straining to meet their quotas rarely talk with young people about the realities of war, including the danger of psychological harm arising from experiences in the military. In fact, as I've written about elsewhere, too many recruiters actually lie, including telling recruits that they won't get deployed. It is up to all of us to counter the falsely glamorized picture of military life and war too many young people still receive.

-thanks to Daily Kos

February 13, 2012

Global Network's 2012 Conference to be held in Hawaii and Jeju Island, South Korea. Feb. 18-22, 2012

Nine Catholic priests climbed over the fence and made their way onto the rocks by the sea in Gangjeong village to protest Navy base construction yesterday. They were all arrested.

In February the Global Network will be holding a two stage Pacific conference - in Hawaii and and Gangjeong village, Jeju Island.

Missile Defense systems on Aegis Destroyers are being tested at the Pentagon's Barking Sands Pacific Missile Defense testing facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We invite people to join us in Hawaii for a mini-conference prior to going to Jeju Island.

The Gangjeong villagers are now in the middle of a tragic fight with the Navy to stop the construction of a base that will port Aegis destroyers, outfitted with "missile defense" (MD) systems, and aircraft carriers.

January 3, 2012

some 'hope' from Occupy Canada

To our courageous men and women in Canada, a message from Don Davies

Thank you, all of you. I will always regret that I didn't find the courage found by you and your families. Every day I think of all of you and the Vietnamese, the Iraqis and Afghanis, all the victims and heroes
Russell Brown