Robin Long gets Leavenworth, with help

ppjpc supporting Robin LongCOLORADO SPRINGS- Extradited desertion/political refugee Robin Long, spent several weeks jailed in Fort Carson after being refused political asylum in Canada. An army court let Long plead guilty to the charge of desertion based on a plea bargain agreement. The local PPJPC held vigils to publicize Long’s plight, and it turns out, did a little bit more.

In a just published letter to the Independent, indefatigably blow hardy local attorney Bill Durland was revealed to have been co-counsel. Durland assisted with arranging the guilty plea and as a result, Robin Long was sentenced to one and a quarter years in Leavenworth. Thanks a lot I’m sure.

Was Robin Long a war resister? Who would think he’d want to quit resisting being told by the Army what to do? Long fled to Canada because he wanted to be NOT GUILTY of war crimes. These have been his own arguments: Every soldier has a right to refuse illegal orders. The war in Iraq has been determined by international bodies to be an illegal war. Why is Robin Long pleading guilty?

Already reported was that Long’s first character witness was also someone from the PPJPC, whom Long had only just recently met, through three visitations. It was the mysteriously socially inept Pete Haney, the new-hire Dynamic Peace Director who’s presided over that organization’s declining participation. The Gazette reported Haney’s helpful testimony on behalf of Robin Long:

“I’ve observed Mr. Long in situations that would be trying to just about anyone,” Haney said. “He seemed to me to be extremely poised and lucid.”

In Colorado Springs it’s not enough that you find yourself up a creek without a paddle, you’ll find “friends” who’ll make sure to put holes in your canoe.

14 thoughts on “Robin Long gets Leavenworth, with help

  1. AvatarTony Logan

    Yes, the case of Robin Long and how he stumbled onto the likes of Pete Haney and Bill Durland is kind of a mystery? Material about Robin Long is rather scarce on the internet but here is some material that I found helpful in understanding a little about him (in order of interest, I believe).

    http://www.boiseweekly.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A161658

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpYpwDz0sEU

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/23/us/23resist.html?bl&ex=1219636800&en=14aa4f839c5b8c72&ei=5087

    It seems clear that the Pentagon targeted Robin Long to be a sort of test case, but why Robin instead of others is up to a bit of guessing? He does seem to be a rather naive young man from a quite politically backward part of the country, Boise, Idaho. Somebody that could perhaps be bent fairly easily perhaps?

    To illustrate this, let us mention that it is really amazing to see how little real legal and personal defense Robin was able to muster up, and it appears that he went for the plea bargain almost from the start. Was this arranged in Canada before hand even? Even before he was picked up and jailed by the Canadian government possibly?

    If so, it can help explain why Pete Haney, of all people, was his only character witness? Certainly, with the importance of his case, he could have come up with much better than this, including even some of the top names in America. Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and others like these turned him down? I don’t think so, it is just that he never made the effort to find real character witnesses on his behalf. One wonders why not?

    The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission never built any action of significance for Robin Long but now they are out there taking credit for being some sort of hot shot defenders of the guy. I don’t think that is the case at all and that Robin Long probably had this plea bargain in the works for some time already. Cetainly, better contacts to build a real defense could have been arranged, much better than having local yokels Bill Durland and the incredibly non effective supposed character witness Pete Haney next to his side at the end?

    We probably never will learn any of the details of this strange deal between Long and the military, but it seems totally fishy even at first glance.

  2. AvatarByron L. Trackwell

    It is fundamental that the court-martial of Robbin Long did not have jurisdiction over raised constitutional arguments. Jurisdictional codes are under Title 28 of the United States Codes, the most common one is coined as the Federal Question, 28 U.S.C. Section 1331, that gives Original Jurisdiction to Federal Courts on constitutional dimensions rising under our Constitution. These codes derive their constitutional powers from Article III. U.S. Const. art. III, section 2, clause 1, states, “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority”. Article III does not extend this judicial power to the court-martials by the exectuive branch!

    At Fort Carson, Colorado on September 13, 2008 Robin Long was sentenced to 15 months of confinement and dishonorable discharge after a completed non-jurisdictional court-martial. I am sure the support witnesses for Robbin Long raised constitutional dimensions, Pete Haney (of the Colorado Springs Justice & Peace Commission), SGT Matthis Chiroux (IVAW and resister to an ordered Iraq deployment) and COL Ann Wright (a high ranking State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq war). By filing a Habeas Corpus pointing out this jurisdictional crime, Robin Long would be released soon as such an action is supported in Parisi v. Davidson (1972) by Justice Douglas stating, “I agree with the Court’s view that habeas corpus is an overriding remedy to test the jurisdiction of the military to try or to detain a person.”

    American Jurisprudence is in a terrible slump as fundamentals of jurisdiction have been forgotten and that is terrible as it is an immense power for saying what the law is! All courts including court-martials are required to use their sua sponte authority to dismiss any case when the court in question does not have subject-matter jurisdiction! It is imperative that the court with jurisdiction initially puts the case to trial, and a court that puts a case to trial without jurisdiction contrary to Article III is knowingly violating our Constitution!

    Robbin Long’s Bill of Rights that are being defended right now by fighting soldiers in Iraq state that Robbin’s innocence or guilt was to be determined by a Federal Jury in a Federal Court and that is that! Arguing with that statement is arguing against the United States Constitution! If military court-martials continue on stealing at will our resisting soldier’s Bill of Rights, it will turn our republic into a military dictactorship, severely lower the moral of all of our soldiers and handover the economy to the Military Industrial Complex and all that can be turned around by going back to jurisdictional fundamentals that a first year Law Student knows!

    Best Regards,
    The Resisting GI
    http://www.resistinggi.com/
    s/Byron L. Trackwell

  3. ResistingGIResistingGI

    Ms. Majorie Cohn is somebody, a big time law professor and all of that and I do not even know why I even decided to write her, but I did!

    But now I have changed my mind, like I copied her and gave you the top spot of TO, so you can read the letter infra she will probably bother not to read from a nobody. This is to you and copied to the big shot lawyer professor. I imagine she is so into Law and think she knows it all that a grunt resisting GI like me pretending to know something about the law will not interest her, but if you would only read what I wrote her and take a real look at my website, you will find out that I pretend very well!

    http://www.resistinggi.com/

    This is now serious! I know with all my heart I could write a habeas corpus that would free Robbin Long. And it is not about me trying to gain anything at all as all my efforts as a hobbyist constitutional counsellor of law has been a depletion of substantial resources including time and money! My hobbyist constitutional counsellor adventures started in 1992 and I love doing that in my spare time as it is fun and makes me laugh from time to time! And I like to be an optimist and Robbin needs that right now for sure! I say again, I know with all my heart I could write a habeas corpus that would free Robbin Long and I would do it FREE, because the best things in life are FREE!

    Who ever that lawyer was for Robbin, some dude in love with his dog, and those others giving stupid judicial advice to negotiate with an unconstitutional court-martial, all of them should now be in a state that they can not look at themselves in a mirror, but I know I can look at myself in the mirror and in my heart, I know I can get him out! OK not I but I do know for sure that America’s wonderful grassroots constitutional law has the power to free Robin Long!

    Majorie Cohn, http://www.marjoriecohn.com/
    Raiding Democracy in St. Paul By MARJORIE COHN
    http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn09022008.html

    Dear Majorie Cohn,

    Why are you involved in protesting this war by an unprofessional form of lobbying? I agree with the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Expression, but there is a fine legal line between that and interrupting the processes of an election. Besides, you do not go looking for justice at the Republican Convention as justice can only be found within the courts!

    I am writing you to inform you that American Jurisprudence is in the worst judicial slump ever as lawyers and the courts are forgetting the fundamentals of jurisdiction. It is fundamental that the court-martial of Robbin Long did not have jurisdiction over raised constitutional arguments. Jurisdictional codes are under Title 28 of the United States Codes, the most common one is coined as the Federal Question, 28 U.S.C. Section 1331, that gives Original Jurisdiction to Federal Courts on constitutional dimensions rising under our Constitution. These codes derive their constitutional powers from Article III. U.S. Const. art. III, section 2, clause 1, states, “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority”. Article III does not extend this judicial power to the court-martials by the executive branch!

    At Fort Carson, Colorado on September 13, 2008 Robin Long was sentenced to 15 months of confinement and a dishonorable discharge after a completed non-jurisdictional court-martial. I am sure the support witnesses for Robbin Long raised constitutional dimensions like COL Ann Wright (a high ranking State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq war). By filing a Habeas Corpus pointing out this jurisdictional crime, Robin Long would be released soon as such an action is supported in Parisi v. Davidson (1972) by Justice Douglas stating, “I agree with the Court’s view that habeas corpus is an overriding remedy to test the jurisdiction of the military to try or to detain a person.”

    American Jurisprudence is in a terrible slump as fundamentals of jurisdiction have been forgotten and that is terrible as it is an immense power for saying what the law is! All courts including court-martials are required to use their sua sponte authority to dismiss any case when the court in question does not have subject-matter jurisdiction! It is imperative that the court with jurisdiction initially puts the case to trial, and a court that puts a case to trial without jurisdiction contrary to Article III is knowingly violating our Constitution!

    Robbin Long’s Bill of Rights that are being defended right now by fighting soldiers in Iraq state that Robbin’s innocence or guilt was to be determined by a Federal Jury in a Federal Court and that is that! Arguing with that statement is arguing against the United States Constitution! If military court-martials continue on stealing at will our resisting soldier’s Bill of Rights, it will turn our republic into a military dictatorship, severely lower the moral of all of our soldiers and hand-over the economy to the Military Industrial Complex and all that can be turned around by going back to jurisdictional fundamentals!

    Best Regards,
    The Resisting GI

  4. AvatarJ. M. Branum

    I am writing to correct several incorrect and/or incomplete statements made in this blog post.

    1. Robin had 3 attorneys represent him at this court-martial. I served as his lead attorney. Working with me on the case was an excellent attorney from TDS (trial defense services, a/k/a the US Army’s public defenders) and Bill Durland.

    Bill was very helpful to me as my local civilian counsel (as I live in Olahoma). I understand that there are local political dynamics at play here, but please don’t attack Bill with regards to this case. Right or wrong, the buck stopped with me, as I was the lead counsel.

    2. Pete Haney was helpful as a witness, but he only had a minor role in the case itself. Pete did though visit Robin in jail and helped to organize the protest actions. I know that Robin was very appreciative of his help. Again, had a wide range of witnesses (both verbal and oral statements). To pick at only Pete’s testimony is misleading.

    3. Robin made an informed decision with regards to his plea deal. It was his decision to make and he made it. He could have chosen to fight the case on the merits but he didn’t want to take the chance on a much longer sentence that he could have received without the benefit of a PTA (pre-trial agreement, this sets the upper cap on what the judge can sentence a defendant to)

    It is easy to attack Robin’s decision from the sidelines, but please understand that his freedom was at stake. Robin took a very brave stand in presenting the case that he presented. He should not be attacked for taking a plea deal.

    4. I was asked to take on this case by Courage to Resist and members of the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada. I then sought out help from local Colorado Springs activists. I appreciate all who helped.

    In the future, before you shoot off your mouth with half-baked opinions, please contact me. I have been very open (as directed by Robin) in speaking to the press. I wish you had contacted me to get the truth before posting this. (my contact info can be found on my website, http://www.girightslawyer.com)

  5. AvatarJ. M. Branum

    My response to Tony Logan’s comment…

    Pete Haney was NOT the only witness called. We also called Matthis Chiroux and Ann Wright to testify in person and presented I think at least 3 written statements from people that knew and could vouch for Robin from his time in Canada.

  6. EricEric

    Dear Mr J. Branum,
    thank you for the clarification, and for wanting to take all responsibility. I’ll avail myself of contacting you if I care to be accused of “shooting my mouth off with half-baked opinions.” How arrogant of you! Your “truth” didn’t contradict my observations at all.

    Your comments only reveal that you too pushed Robin to walk the plank. It looks like he needed better advice all around. I sincerely hope you get out of the GI RIGHTS LAWYERING racket and let these soldiers make the principled stands they must.

    We have less a local political problem than a sleepwalking problem hindering the national peace movement. However well-intended, you are serving the war-mongers by tempering antiwar strategy, and victims like Robin and Iraq pay the price.

  7. AvatarTony Logan

    J.M. Branum, you state that,

    ‘It is easy to attack Robin’s decision from the sidelines, but please understand that his freedom was at stake. Robin took a very brave stand in presenting the case that he presented. He should not be attacked for taking a plea deal.’

    and then later you say,

    ‘In the future, before you shoot off your mouth with half-baked opinions, please contact me. I have been very open (as directed by Robin) in speaking to the press. I wish you had contacted me to get the truth before posting this.’

    From what you said, Eric did seem to speak the truth here. Robin Long decided to accept a plea bargain (as you yourself state) negotiated by you, Bill Durland, and the Pentagon. That is the simple truth.

    Nobody is attacking Robin for trying to play it safer with his life. We do question though whether a national political defense of much better quality than what was actually done could actually have been initiated, and your comments don’t take that issue up at all?

    Robin Long was the first GI case of a GI antiwar resister actually prosecuted, and his and your actions to plea bargain a conviction for the Pentagon puts many other GIs potentially at much greater risk than if a better political defense had been done and he had been found innocent. However, what has been done has been done, and we wish Robin Long the best.

  8. Avatarjonah

    It does, after wading through the (almost) countless opinions and counter-opinions (countless counter… I Slay Me! Exit giggling)

    But that kicks open a new direction for Courts Martial of Bush and Cheney.

    As our erstwhile and verbose legal advisers to these comments would understand, if a “superior” officer (I quoted the word because it brings out the automatic association that there must be INFERIOR officers) who wantonly, recklessly and through his own incompetence causes the deaths or otherwise loss of the men under his command, the men in commands not his own {think, if you will, of an Air Force flight bombarding a U.S. Marine gunnery platoon, something that provides much precedence, as it HAS happened and more than just a few times} those pilots responsible would be subject to summary Courts Martial.

    If the Air Force Colonel who authorized the strike knew damned well that the Gunnery Position was in fact “friendly” and ordered it anyway, he would be guilty of one count of Capital Murder in the death of each Marine wrongfully killed.

    Something that has a WHOLE LOT less precedence but it is more than a legal fiction.

    Thus George Walker Bush, in his MILITARY capacity as Commander in Chief, and his penchant for appearing in Military Uniform on occasions… leaves him open for Courts Martial in the deaths of more than 4,000 United States soldiers.

    And Richard Cheney and all the Professional ChickenHawks in the Minion Corps and Henchman Brigade likewise, as his accomplices.

    Unlikely, yes.

    Impossible, no.

    On the other hand…

  9. Avatarjonah

    We DO have an obligation to Robin Long to keep the case in the spotlight.

    Publicize the living dogshit out of every EVERY “administrative disciplinary” action taken against him, every denial of privileges, especially denial of visitation or mail.

    The Military Pigs and other “Justice” officials love to make somebody go away permanently while he or she is in prison.

    And a lot of if not all Judges turn a blind eye to the practice.

  10. AvatarJ. M. Branum

    Eric,

    I categorically did NOT push Robin Long to take a plea deal.

    I had an ethical and moral responsibility to lay out all of the facts to Robin and then to follow through in trying to achieve his desired goals.

    I think Robin made an informed decision. Did he make the right decision? I don’t know. We could not have reached a better PTA, so our other options were pleading blind or fighting the case on the merits. Those options could have netted Robin a much longer sentence than he received, but they could also have been successful. There is no way to really know.

  11. AvatarJ. M. Branum

    Tony,

    You raise some good points. I think we had a decent media campaign, but could have done better. We were very fortunate to have a strong IVAW contingency there (thanks to the DNC protests and the IVAW base tour happening at about the same time) and I think those factors played in our favor.

    I also wish we had more local support for Robin, but it seemed to me (as an outsider) that the in-fighting between the different camps in the local anti-war and peace communities kept this work from being as effective as I would have liked it to be.

    Overall, I think we can always learn better ways to do things. I am always open to hearing ideas on how to improve. I will likely have future resistance cases at Ft. Carson, so if you have any ideas on how to effectively work with local folks on these cases I am all ears.

  12. Avatarjonah

    Well, brother, you’re in a much better position than me to carry out this part, but Cops and especially Prison Officials have a way to make low-profile prisoners “go away” and even to convert High profile ones to low profile in order to ease the task of making them go away.

    Couple that with Mr Bush having purged the “justice” Department of anybody but the strictest throw-up-the-Fascist-salute-undt-alle-Sieg-Heil party loyalists….

    We have to keep his name in circulation and somebody with legal privileges has to regularly contact him.

    They could, for instance, effectively deny him health care. The Federales do it every bit as much as the State and County Pigs do.

    If he gets sick and goes to sick call, the Nurse Practitioner or whatever other Deputized Police Officer (and all of the doctors and other staff are exactly that, and WILL place the agenda of their fellow cops above any other consideration) the Deputy Doctor will say he’s malingering and add charges.

    Since he’s officially Military, they could actually give him another sentence on THAT charge and “for internal security reasons” have only a Police Appointed (meaning the “appointed” bit is of no value, it’ll be a cop) to represent him at the hearings.

    They also have a way of making Inmates “commit suicide” and I put that in quotes because the inmate doesn’t have to do anything at all on his own, they’ll hang him in his cell and tell the world that he did it himself.

    The PIGS don’t give a fuck about the health or welfare of their prisoners any more than they actually care about any portion of the Law that limits their powers or their insane acts of Sadistic Aggression whenever they get somebody in custody and out of the public eye.

    And Durland might object to this, but I’ve never met a Judge who actually would do anything to rein in his fellow Cops either.

    They’re all in it together.

  13. AvatarTony Logan

    ‘I categorically did NOT push Robin Long to take a plea deal.’

    J. M., I totally believe you on that statement of yours. You get no argument at all, from me, that you in any way acted somehow dishonorably. You didn’t. Like you said from the beginning, it was Robin’s decision to make anyway.

    I’m not too sure though that he knew much how to begin to work with the national antiwar community better than he did though? Not knowing much where to go for increased support he chose the plea bargain from the government. Or at least, that’s how it certainly seems from a further distance from the case than you had?

    And YES, the antiwar community is divided here locally but so too is it nationally. Even if all of us in Colorado Springs had been totally united and all of one beforehand, we still have a pretty negligible presence here. Robin needed a mobilized national effort on his behalf to have had an effective political defense, and that just was not put into motion very well.

    Fact is, even UNITED the local antiwar supporters would still have had a pretty much limited ability and would have been unable to even start such a national campaign all on their own. In the 2 1/2 years I have seen little ability for activists amongst the Colorado Springs local people to even follow most national campaigns, let alone start one from their own efforts. Robin Long’s case was just another case in point of that current reality.

    ‘Overall, I think we can always learn better ways to do things. I am always open to hearing ideas on how to improve. I will likely have future resistance cases at Ft. Carson, so if you have any ideas on how to effectively work with local folks on these cases I am all ears.’

    I would suggest in the future pretty much bypassing the local scene altogether, J.M., and head for building support on the national scene if at all possible. There you stand a chance of getting some real political support started. We wish you and all the antiwar GIs you help defend the best with your efforts. I certainly think that you did the best you could with Robin’s case.

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