Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Hinzman refugee hearing in Canada - Day 2

According to the Canadian Press (CP), Jeremy Hinzman continued his testimony yesterday before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
Jeremy Hinzman, who is seeking refugee status in Canada, told a hearing that the U.S. military regarded all Arabs in the Middle East — Iraqis in particular — as potential terrorists to be eliminated.

"We were referring to these people as savages," Hinzman testified.

"It fosters an attitude of hatred that gets your blood boiling."

"This was a criminal war," he said.

"Any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity."

While a federal government lawyer told the hearing that U.S. deserters often get about a year in jail, Hinzman said he believes he would be treated more harshly because of his views on the Iraq war.

"Serving even one day in prison for refusing to comply with an illegal order is too long," Hinzman told the hearing.

Hinzman's lawyer said "that Canada has granted asylum to deserters from other countries in the past and compared the situation to those of dissidents in the former Soviet Union."

Interestingly, CP's reporter interviewed a Washington Post reporter in attendance at the hearing.

A Washington Post reporter covering the hearings said Hinzman's request for asylum is extremely sensitive to Americans because of the Vietnam War, which many in the U.S. also considered illegal and unjustifiable.

"There's a great deal of worry that Iraq is beginning to look a little like Vietnam," said Doug Struck.

"Americans are very worried when their servicemen start saying, 'No, we're not going to go.' It sends alarms off."

Americans are worried? Try "The administration is worried."

Anyway, the CP reporter was apparently on deadline, which caused him/her to miss the testimony of Jimmy J. Massey. Fortunately, the WaPo reporter stayed to catch it.

From a story on page A20 of the Washington Post,

Jimmy J. Massey, a 12-year veteran, said he left Iraq in May 2003 after a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress. He said he and his men shot and killed four Iraqis staging a demonstration and a man with his hands up trying to surrender, as well as women and children at roadblocks. Massey said he had complained to his superiors about the "killing of innocent civilians," but that nothing was done.

The story dutifully gives "balance" to Massey's testimony—

In Washington, a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon said Massey's charges had been investigated and were unproved.

".... They've been looked into, and nothing has been substantiated."

This is a non-denial denial. Note that the Marine Corps is not asserting that the events didn't happen. Why, hell, they haven't been able to "substantiate" allegations of torture in Guantánamo.

The Post, by sending one of its top foreign-service reporters to Canada, shows that it recognizes the importance of this hearing. And it is noted later, mid-paragraph, in the story—

.... The asylum bids by Hinzman and two other servicemen are a dilemma for the Canadian government, which is seeking to repair relations with the Bush administration. Canada refused to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the war remains highly unpopular in Canada.

The media are consistently suggesting that Hinzman's application will be refused and that the case will then be appealed. In that case, Hinzman will be able to remain in Canada for the appeal, and Canada will be able to stave off a decision that will be highly problematic no matter which way the case is decided.

The Canadian government is definitely in the hot seat on this one. Will the U.S. be able to force another government to deny the reality of U.S. war crimes?

Previous posts:
Canada must decide whether to support U.S. war crimes
Hinzman refugee hearing in Canada - Day 1

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