User:James Branum/Robin Long

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Robin Long became the first U.S. soldier to be deported from Canada to the United States when he was deported on July 15, 2008.[1][2][3][4][5] He had originally fled to Canada to avoid deploying to fight in the war in Iraq.

In July 2008, the Toronto Star quoted Bob Ages, chair of the Vancouver-based War Resisters Support Campaign who said that since the time of slavery, Canada has been known as a place of asylum, and Long's removal marks the first time an army deserter has been deported from Canada to the USA[1] The Globe and Mail also reported this quote from Ages:

"Mr. Long's deportation would be a ... precedent for Canada, especially given our history of providing sanctuary for war resisters, over 100,000 draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam era."[6]

One day later, Daniel Sandate, another U.S. soldier, was also deported. Sandate had not applied for legal refugee status as had Long (see details).

See also: Canada and Iraq War Resisters and List of Iraq War Resisters
"… in 2003…. I was convinced by the lies of the Bush administration just like Congress and a majority of Americans…..But just because I joined the Army doesn't mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally…”

[7]

— Robin Long (first US soldier to ever be deported from Canada[1]), in Long’s letter to then US President-elect Barack Obama, Nov 6, 2008 (written while in prison)

Long's background

Robin Long, a Boise, Idaho native[8][9] said he had wanted to be in the army when he was growing up. He enlisted when he was 19 years old.[10] in July 2003[6]

At the time he enlisted in July 2003, Long believed that his country was justified in going to war in Iraq, his lawyer Shepherd Moss said at the court hearing to halt the deportation of July 2008. Long intended to train as a tank commander. "He wanted to go to defend his country", his lawyer stated.[11]

Long trained for two years at Fort Knox in Kentucky. His perspective changed while in training at the army base at Fort Knox. After hearing that weapons of mass destruction had not been found in Iraq, Long thought the U.S. had no reason for being at war. Also, in 2004 he was troubled by evidence of abuse of Iraqi detainees that came out in May 2004, according to his lawyer, Shepherd Moss, in July 2008[12]

Long concluded the abuse was systemic and condoned by the U.S. administration, Moss said. After some soul-searching, Long decided he would not go to Iraq and would not participate or be complicit in what he believed were war crimes, the lawyer said.[13]

Long reportedly decided that he didn't want to go to Iraq after talking to people who had been there: "These people came back and were telling these horrific stories and our superiors were egging people on, some people were actually volunteering to go over there and it just seemed like justified homicide", he said in the interview. "It didn't sit right in my stomach. I morally couldn't do it."[14] Long was ordered in March 2005 to report to Iraq for service.[15] In 2005 he left his military base in Colorado Springs, and came to Toronto.[16]

In Canada from 2005 to July 15, 2008

In Ontario, where he lived for a time, Long was engaged to be married and had a child, according to Sarah Bjorknas, one of his supporters.[17]

He sought to be accepted as a refugee in September, 2006. His application for refugee status was denied on February 15, 2007. An application for leave to appeal the decision was turned down. Long moved to British Columbia in the summer of 2007[6]

He established himself as a member of the community in Nelson, British Columbia.[18] While there Long said he perfected his organic gardening skills and converted his Volkswagen to run on recycled cooking oil.[19] "In Canada, Long opened a business encouraging water conservation."[20]

In 2007, he failed to comply with bail conditions imposed when he missed an immigration hearing.[4]

The events of July 14 and 15, 2008

In a final attempt to stay in Canada, Long applied on July 14, 2008 for a stay of the removal order in order to allow him further judicial appeals.[6]

Long's case was heard on July 14, 2008, in front of Madam Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada. Long was not in court for the hearing. He was in custody at a location outside Vancouver.[5][21]

Judge Mactavish stated that Long did not provide evidence to show he would be singled out for harsh treatment by the U.S. military because of the publicity associated with case.[5][22] However, a month later, on August 22, 2008, in Long's court martial trial in the United States, "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."[19]

The fact that this aggravating evidence was accepted as admissible at the court martial for the charge of desertion was later the subject of much attention (see "aggravation" below) in Canada at the hearing of another war resister [23]: On September 22, 2008, after the Federal Court hearing of Jeremy Hinzman, the Toronto Star reported the following:
"Jeremy Hinzman's lawyer Alyssa Manning told Justice Richard Mosley that new evidence suggests outspoken critics of the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq face harsher treatment than other deserters. For example, she said, deserter Robin Long was sentenced to 15 months in prison last month after prosecutors made mention of a media interview he had given in Canada before he was deported in July ... [T]he issue of “differential” treatment for those who have spoken out against the U.S.-led invasion appeared to trouble Judge Mosley."

“I don't know how it is an aggravating feature or element to be introduced in sentencing”, the judge said. ... “Based on the evidence and submissions before me, I am satisfied that the applicants [Jeremy Hinzman and family] would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted pending determination of their leave application,” Mosley said in his three-page endorsement."[24]

Long was removed from Canada on July 15, 2008.[25]"Madam Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada cleared the way for the deportation...."[6]

In the US beginning July 15, 2008

He was court-martialed at Fort Carson, Colorado in August 2008. At the trial, Long pled guilty to desertion[9][26] and was given a sentence of 15 months in prison, reduction in rank to E-1 private, and a dishonorable discharge.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

Robin Long was represented by James M. Branum (of Pine Ridge, Oklahoma), William Durland (of Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Captain Seth Cohen (of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service). Long's principal sentencing arguments focused on the morality of civil disobedience and Long's rehabilitative potential, while the government's sole case in aggravation was a video interview that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did with Long.[19]

Long served the remainder of his sentence at the Miramar Consolidated Naval Brig near San Diego, California. He has continued to speak out against the war in Iraq from behind prison bars.[33]

On November 6, 2008, Long authored an open letter to then President-elect Barack Obama which included the following words:
"I feel I made the right decision by refusing and am more than willing to sit in the brig for my ideals. But I worry about the effect this has on my family. I ask you to please consider granting me presidential clemency or a pardon. I have given this to many different organizations and people to ensure that you receive a copy."[34]

On March 15, 2009, two Members of the Parliament of Canada visited Long in prison. They were Olivia Chow (New Democratic Party), and Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Liberal Party of Canada).[35][36][37]

On March 26, 2009, in a debate in the Parliament of Canada on the issue of asylum for Iraq war resisters, Olivia Chow read the words of Robin Long in the Parliament of Canada (see those words in footnote).[38] A month and a half earlier, on Feb 12, 2009, the The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration had passed a non-binding motion reaffirming Parliament's June 2008 vote which recommended that the government let Iraq War resisters stay in Canada.[39] (Because a new session of Parliament began, the whole process had to begin again.)

Four days after Robin Long's words were read in House of Commons, on March 30, 2009, the House of Commons again voted in a non-binding motion 129 to 125 in favour of the committee's recommendation.[40][41]

On July 9, 2009, Robin Long was finally released from prison.[20] The first six months of this imprisonment occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush. During this period, George W. Bush pardoned 33 people. The last 6 months of Long's imprisonment occurred during the presidency of Barack Obama.

On August 12, 2009, the Boise Weekly published this statement:

"In addition to his incarceration, Long was stripped of his rank and given a dishonorable discharge. His discharge remains on appeal. As he tours the country speaking out in opposition to the war, Robin Long remains in the Army, getting military medical benefits, though he is no longer being paid.

He argues that his desertion was not dishonorable and that the unfavorable discharge status--a felony--affects his ability to return to his family in Canada and his ability to get work in the United States.

In Long's open letter to Obama, he asked for a better discharge status: "I have given this to many different organizations and people to ensure that you receive a copy."

He has not heard back but continues the appeal. His wife is unable to move to the United States because she receives full medical benefits for her MS in Canada and would not be able to get treatment here, [his lawyer] Branum said."[42]

Aggravation in Long's US military Court martial and its Subsequent Implications for other US Iraq War Resisters

There is evidence that the question of aggravation in Long's US military court martial has implications for other United States Iraq War resisters: It first became a factor in the Canadian Federal Court hearing of US Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman on September 22, 2008.[43]

Aggravation, in law, is "any circumstance attending the commission of a crime or tort which increases its guilt or enormity or adds to its injurious consequences, but which is above and beyond the essential constituents of the crime or tort itself."[44] The "crime or tort", before the courts in the cases of United States Iraq War Resisters such as Robin Long or Jeremy Hinzman, is often alleged "desertion".

On September 22, 2008, after the Federal Court hearing of Jeremy Hinzman, the Toronto Star reported the following comment by the the judge hearing the case:

[T]he issue of “differential” treatment for those who have spoken out against the U.S.-led invasion appeared to trouble Judge Mosley. "I don't know how it is an aggravating feature or element to be introduced in sentencing ... [B]ased on the evidence and submissions before me, I am satisfied that the applicants would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted pending determination of their leave application"[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fong, Petti (2008-07-16). U.S. army deserter first to be deported. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  2. Austen, Ian (2008-07-16). Canada Expels an American Deserter From the Iraq War. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  3. U.S. deserter deported to Colorado: army official. cbcnews.ca (2008-07-15). Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kyonka, Nick (2008-07-16). Other war resisters undaunted by expulsion. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 See also: Robin Long v. Canada (MCI & MPSEP), IMM-3042-08 (July 14, 2008), Justice Mactavish
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Matas, Robert (2008-07-15). Canada Will Deport US Army Deserter. The Globe and Mail/ CommonDreams.org. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  7. [Nathaniel]. [http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/robin-long-war-resister-or-deserter/Content?oid=1133873 Robin Long, War Resister or Deserter? A Boise man's journey from the Army to Canada and back to oppose the war in Iraq], Boise Weekly, Sally Freeman, August 12, 2009. Retrieved on 1 September 2009.
  8. Boise Weekly, "Why he ran"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Idaho Statesman: "Fort Carson soldier from Boise to plead guilty to lower desertion charge"
  10. Fong, Petti (2008-07-16). U.S. army deserter first to be deported. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Fong, Petti (2008-07-16). U.S. army deserter first to be deported. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Kyonka, Nick (2008-07-16). Other war resisters undaunted by expulsion. Toronto Star.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 The Gazette "Fort Carson deserter sentenced to 15 months in prison"
  20. 20.0 20.1 Perry, Tony. Army deserter freed from brig in San Diego after serving 12 months, L.A. Times, July 9, 2009. Retrieved on 9 July 2009.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Between JAMES COREY GLASS and THE MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION. Federal Court of Canada (July 17, 2008). Retrieved on 2009-05-15.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Perkel, Colin (2008-09-22). U.S. deserter "surprised" deportation order stayed. The Canadian Press/Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Kyonka, Nick (2008-07-16). Other war resisters undaunted by expulsion. Toronto Star.
  26. Kyonka, Nick (2008-08-22). War resister to plead guilty. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2009-01-08.
  27. New York Times, "Soldier who deserted to Canada draws 15-month term"
  28. Toronto Star, "Iraq war resister sentenced to 15 months — Deported from Canada last month, U.S. soldier given dishonourable discharge for desertion"
  29. The Globe and Mail, "U.S. war resister pleads guilty to desertion — Soldier who fled to Canada to avoid fighting in Iraq sentenced to 15 months in prison"
  30. CBC News "U.S. soldier jailed 15 months for desertion"
  31. "Soldier who fled to Canada to avoid Iraq duty to plead guilty to desertion"
  32. Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Kanada schiebt Amerikaner ab"
  33. CourageToResist.org "Prisoner of conscience Robin Long's letter to Obama"
  34. Ibid.
  35. Perry, Tony. Canadian politicians meet with U.S. deserter, Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2009. Retrieved on 18 March 2009.
  36. MPs visit deserter in U.S. prison, urge Ottawa to allow resisters refuge in Canada, Canadian Press, March 16, 2009. Retrieved on 18 March 2009.
  37. Canadian officials visit US war deserter, Associated Press, March 16, 2009. Retrieved on 18 March 2009.
  38. These are the words of Robin Long which were read in the Parliament of Canada:

    "In 2004, when Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada, the federal government stepped in at his refugee hearing and said that evidence challenging the legality of the war in Iraq cannot be used in his case.

    The U.N. Handbook for Refugees and the Nuremberg Principles say: “a soldier of an army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service. They also have 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 the argument that the war was illegal, the decision closed the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.

    The invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal act of aggression. The U.S. was not under attack or the imminent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq. The action was also not approved by the U.N. Security Council.

    By taking this stance, the Conservative government is condoning the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. <p> Is this what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have also realized it to be a mistake. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding onto the idea and still deporting war resisters?

    Why are they separating families and being complicit in the incarceration of morally strong young men and women? What message is this sending?

    Parliament voted to let war resisters remain. In June of 2008 Canada’s Parliament voted on a non-binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. The vote passed. In agreement with the vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution.

    But in defiance of Parliament and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government led by [the] Prime Minister and Immigration Minister ignored the bill. The government stated that all refugee claimants are give a fair chance to plead their case at the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters wasn’t fair to the other claimants. The government has also stated in the past that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the U.S. which they say has a fair and transparent justice system and 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 are, [the] Federal Judge...stated that I didn't prove I would be treated harshly by the U.S. military for being a political outspoken opponent to the war in Iraq and the Bush administration policy."

    40th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION, EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 034, Thursday, March 26, 2009
  39. [1]
  40. 40th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION, EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 036, CONTENTS, Monday, March 30, 2009
  41. Cooper, Alex. Federal court to hear American war resister's appeal, Toronto Star, April 21, 2009. Retrieved on April 23, 2009.
  42. [Nathaniel]. [http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/robin-long-war-resister-or-deserter/Content?oid=1133873 Robin Long, War Resister or Deserter? A Boise man's journey from the Army to Canada and back to oppose the war in Iraq], Boise Weekly, Sally Freeman, August 12, 2009. Retrieved on 1 September 2009.
  43. Perkel, Colin (2008-09-22). U.S. deserter "surprised" deportation order stayed. The Canadian Press / Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2008-09-24.
  44. Black, Henry Campbell. Black's Law Dictionary. 6th edition. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West, 1991).