Live blogging the debate in the Canadian parliament re: U.S. war resisters

Watch the debate live right now at:

My commentary can be read at:

Statement by Daniel Sandate on the pending deportation of Kimberly Rivera from Canada

Daniel Sandate was the second known US war resister to be deported after having first fled to Canada. (I was his lead civilian legal defense attorney in his court-martial at Fort Carson) After having been convicted of desertion, he was sentenced to 8 months of confinement. He is now free and living in Oklahoma City.

I asked Daniel to write a short statement to people in both Canada and the US on the importance of supporting Kimberly Rivera and other war resisters facing deportation in Canada. (Kimberly is currently facing deportation on March 26th) He gave me permission to share what he wrote . . .

Photo of daniel sandate

My name is Daniel Sandate. I was in a sense a simple soldier in the infantry that was deployed to Iraq. When there, I was subject to IED attacks and small arms fire. Upon my return, I was still subject to these things in my mind. They never escaped me.

Within us all, there is a place that one can find solace and peace. For such soldiers as myself that relive the horrors, such a place lays in ruins. Destroyed, this refuge is still guarded in the night from what dreams may bring. Time alone can not set the cornerstone for rehabilitation; when said soldier is ignorantly shunned by the service branch of which he or she may serve, the consequences are dire and sometimes deadly..

Upon my return from Iraq, I was stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado. Having being ignored for both my physical and mental ailments, I fled to Canada. In Canada, I went into hiding to avoid being found, but mostly, I was hiding from myself and the problems that I could not shake. After a serious suicide attempt, I was found and put into the system to be returned to the US Army’s control. While in Canadian custody, I was promised by the US consolate in Canada that my mental health was “paramount”. With that promising hope, I found myself fighting to return to military custody.

Once I was handed over to the Army, I was tumbled through the nightmarish processes of the military criminal justice system. With my ailments still effecting and limiting my body and mind, I was still denied the services that are said to be available by my rights as a soldier. Denied despite the fact that I was not yet found guilty. Denied to mental health treatment by both the Army and the jail that housed me while awaiting the condemning court-martial.

Irrepairable harm has been done. The Canadian Supreme Court has already ruled that Robin Long would not suffer such harm and was. As it is, presently, I am a prime example of the Army’s failure to return quality service to the ones that do serve and have valiantly served it. I have suffered such harm. Not to malicious actions, but to apathetic necglect.

With this, I ask that you support such soldiers that are in Canada. Whether they are in hiding or fighting their appeals to be able to stay (to avoid prosecution for taking part in an illegal war). There are many reasons that a soldier runs. Like a trapped and neglected animal, a trapped and neglected soldier will run. To return a soldier (or any service member) to the impersonal machine that does not care for its own is, in my opinion wrong and morally irresponsible. Therefore I ask that those who feel the same reach out to support these soldiers in any way they can.

In summation, I ask that I be seen as an example of what happens when a soldier is kicked to the curb, so to speak, and is then punished for it. One such soldier that will face the same hardships is Kimberly Rivera. She is currently facing deportation and will be going through the same processes of custody that I had to endure.. One way that this can be avoided is if the people stand up and shine a light on these issues that are afflicting the servicemen and servicewomen and the ones around them. I call on to those with a conscience to stand up and voice their wants for radical reform to the governments that are apathetically doing these harms in the name of justice.

Thoughts while sitting in a Motel 6 in Jackson, Michigan

My trip home from Canada has been pro-longed by at least one day due to the need for more time to recover from a sprained ankle. (this post will be some personal thoughts, so if you just read the political stuff feel free to skip this post)

I initially thought I could just go full speed ahead (driving 10 hour or so a day) and get back to Oklahoma, but the ankle soreness just wears me down. It’s not so much the pain itself (which really isn’t so bad) but more that it just tires me out.

So I decided last night after a very tiring day to stay at least 2 nights in Jackson, MI (a town of 30,000 or so between Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo . . . notable for being the birthplace of the GOP). Hopefully if I can get lots of rest and do what I should have wen i first sprained the ankle (R.I.C.E. – rest, ice compression and elevation) then the swelling and pain will go down and the rest of the drive home will be more pleasant.

So the unplanned stop has really given me some time to think (I know driving should do that, but your brain is too occupied with “did I miss that turn” and “that is one crazy billboard” and “the fall leaves are so pretty” and “Oh ****! That was a close call with that 18-wheeler!” and “Sandy, calm down! I’ll take you for a walk in just a little bit!”).

Spending almost a week in Canada was one intense exerience. I came away with a mix of confusion (the contradictions of Canadian society are just as crazy as those of the US, but still very different), appreciation (for the work of the War Resisters Support campaign and others giving up so much to help AWOL US soldiers in need) and grief (that Canada, as wonderful as it is, is still infested with the same poisonous brew of patriotism, capitalism and militarism).

In other words, someday I may choose to live in Canada (or not), but it won’t be a utopia and likely will just mean I’m trading one set of moral dilemnas for another set of moral dilemnas.

But then even more strangely, I don’t feel at home in the US either. Today for lunch I hit a local buffet and ended up being there with the Sunday after-church crowd. I had on my t-shirt from the WRSC (the one that says “War resisters welcome here”) and a high school aged kid asked me about it. I explained that about 200 US soldiers had fled to Canada. He was respectful and all about it, but i could tell he was dumbstruck by the concept that “our guys” (as he put it) would do such a thing.

And as I continued to be in the restaurant I felt like a pariah. I put on my coat so people would’t see my shirt, but then I felt like a coward. And I was angry. It’s not fair for me to judge them either, but I kept wanting to jump up and scream, “how can you be in your Sunday best, just out of church and not caring about the war. Just a few hours away, folks are fighting for their lives to stay in Canada, and you don’t even know about it, and probably wouldn’t care if you did know about it.” I know, I have no right to judge, but that’s what i was feeling. — And I thought of something that a friend told me, about the sky not bearing allegiance to anybody. To think that that the same sun and stars shine in the US and Canada and Iraq, and the wind howls and blows across those imaginary lines. To know that a few hours away and that folks don’t know or care about what is happening so close to them, just broke my heart. I’m sorry, again i have no right to judge and yet I’m judging. I’m just depraved as the folks eating at the buffet. I was there too being sure to get my money’s worth. Trying to drown all of this out in food. Goodness, I’m saying more than I really should here.

I guess as you might have guessed, I’m doing a lot of soul searching and emotional sorting. I am very frustrated that my desire to quit taking Paxil (a antidepressant that may have helped me at one time, but I’m now convinced that it is a poison. It’s made it hard to trust my own emotions and it is so, so hard to get off of. The withdrawal symptons are every bit as bad as the problems that led me to start ingesting the poison in the first place) won’t be enough and that the process of quitting paxil will take a long time (6 months? a year? there is no telling — it helps to know that I’m not alone in having such difficulty quiting paxil but it still doesn’t help the frustration to go away)

I also feel spiritually out of sorts. I can talk a good talk, but I feel disconnected and uncentered. And right now the path out of this place seems obscured by fog and busyness. And that’s another thing. I don’t feel like I’m doing everything I should do for my clients. I’m really overwhelmed right now and that feeling makes it harder to act to change it (a nasty circle of despair sets in)

So anyway those are the thoughts that are on my mind. I am trying to get some work done (lots of catch up to do for client work) but am hoping I’ll have some time to reflect and write. I know i’ll have a lot more to say about Canada soon.

The Robin Long trial

The last few days have been a dizzying blur for me. I’ve been in Colorado Springs for Robin Long’s court-martial at Ft. Carson, as well as to the support IVAW’s State of the Union base tour.

The trial itself was pretty intense. I was so proud of Robin and witnesses: Pete Haney (of the Colorado Springs Justice & Peace Commission), SGT Matthis Chiroux (IVAW and resister to an ordered Iraq deployment) and COL Ann Wright (who can’t even begin to summarize her bio). I also want to thank the folks who sent supporting written statements. We used some in the trials, but will be using all of them in the upcoming clemency/parole fights.

In the next day or two, I’ll write up a lengthier blow-by-blow account of the trial, but for now I’ll just say that while we (Robin and I) are disappointed by the sentence, we are happy that we got to present Robin’s case. I think that in the future, the record will show that Robin’s decision to go to Canada might have been illegal under US law, but it was supremely moral act and it was one in compliance with International law.

Personally though, I’m pretty drained. There’s so much I want to say but it will probably be a few days before I can find the words to do it with.

I am staying in CO for a bit longer. Mostly to be on standby, in case crazy stuff goes down at the IVAW protests at the DNC and active-duty soldiers need legal help, but also to be a witness to history. I’m hoping to get to visit Robin maybe tonight or tomorrow, so I’ll be sure and post something about how he is doing soon.

More responses to Rondi Adamson’s op-ed attacking deported war resister Robin Long

This is an update to an earlier JMBzine post

There have been a few response’s to Rondi Adamson’s poorly reasoned op-ed attack piece against Robin Long and other war resisters (not near enough though). The most important point made by them is one that I should have made and didn’t in my own response to Rondi, that the war resisters are not “draft dodgers” but resisters to war itself.

The Common Ills: Rondi Adamson lies

Rondi Adamson’s “U.S. military deserters don’t deserve refugee status” (Christian Science Monitor) is the usual string of lies from Adamson — that, however, does not excuse the Christian Science Monitor for printing it. (Link provided for everyone to laugh at the under-educated, uninformed Adamson.) Rondi, a big mouth with no brain to back it up, starts from the premise that, during Vietnam, Canada welcomed “war resisters” which is defined as “draft dodgers.” Wrong, Dumb Ass Rondi.

It’s a real shame that you didn’t value your education enough to actually learn but it’s more shocking that the Christian Science Monitor would print your garbage. Canada welcomed draft dodgers and deserters. On the latter category, deserters were not required to have been drafted and many weren’t. The draft was never an issue in Canada — which didn’t have a draft. The illegal war was the issue. . .

Cedric’s Big Mix: From the TCIWire

. . . Yesterday the National Lawyers Guild’s James Branum takes on Rondi (and today Ithica Journal re-prints Rondi’s crap). Branum, who is defending Robin Long and has defended many others resisters (and co-chairs, with Kathleen Gilberd, NLG’s Military Law Task Force), makes many strong points but leaves out the most important one: During Vietnam, Canada welcome “deserters.” It wasn’t just “draft dodgers,” Canada also welcomes “deserters.” Canada did not have a draft, Canada’s position was not based on a draft. Deserters were not asked, “Did you enlist or were you drafted?” It wasn’t an issue. The issue was the illegal war. When Rondi shows her ignorance, it’s important to call her out on that basic fact. War resisters in Canada today have been undermined repeatedly by ‘voices’ that refuse to acknowledge the vast number of deserters that Canada accepted during Vietnam. But not noting that very real reality, today’s war resisters (and their supporters) have to make the case: “Well, during Vietnam, you welcomed draft dodgers, so you should expand that today to welcome us.” The real argument is: “During Vietnam, Canada welcomed deserters and they should today since this is another illegal war the Canadian government has refused to officially sanction.” With the first argument, war resisters are placed in a position of weakness where they beg for something more. In the second argument, war resisters are not asking for ‘special treatment’ or anything different; they’re merely asking Canada to do what it did before. That is reality. Rondi is a foreigner to reality. But that’s a point everyone else needs to make. That Rondi either didn’t know reality or thought she could lie about it goes to the failure to stick to the facts: Canada accepted draft dodgers and deserters during Vietnam. . . A Great Response to the Christian Science Monitor Thingie

. . . I can understand disagreeing with our position due to actual researched positions and logical reasoning…but when the premise of your article is *BOO HOO TOO BAD YOU SIGNED THE CONTRACT!!1!!1!!* smacks of pure ignorance and lack of education about the issue. . .

In the interest of fairness, I did find one pro-Rondi blogist out there, a self-described “Christian, Monarchist Canadian Tory” (wow, I didn’t know there were that many defenders of monarchism anymore) . . .

Dr. Roy’s Thoughts: Rondi Adamson on the US deserters

My friend Rondi Adamson has a great piece in The Christian Science Monitor about the US deserters. As I have said before deport the lot of them!