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Military Resistance 12C24
Military Resistance Newsletter Now Has A Home At Ft. Hamilton
[Outreach To New York Army National Guard
From: Alan S To: Mmilitary Resistance Newsletter Sent: March 27, 2014 Subject: Outreach To New York Army National Guard On Monday, 3/24 at a NYC commuter terminal two Military Resistance Newsletters and 1 DVD of “Authority & Expectations” (Iraq Vet Wray Harris's angry denunciation of the Iraq War and domestic issues resulting in non-support of troops) were distributed to two soldiers. [Harris DVD at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyfkLubnyBw] One had never met me but the other, a sergeant, had and was interested enough (after reading a previous handout) to accept another. His patrol mate accepted the DVD while the sergeant already had one.
The next day at the same terminal three more National Guard troops were approached, two knew me and accepted newsletters again (all already had DVDs), the third, an airman took one for the first time. One of the remaining two, when asked what reactions there were to the newsletter already read, replied the material was “important.” When told I hoped they'd never deploy the one who remarked on the newsletter shook his head from side to side and said “me too.” Finally, on March 27 at another of the city terminals two more soldiers were encountered. Both remembered me and were positive in their evaluation of the handouts previously received. One said “very interesting” referring to the newsletter and DVD both. Taking another handout he added “we have them (newsletters) in our building.” What building I asked? “ Fort Hamilton” was the reply. I showed him a copy of “Soldiers in Revolt” and while examining the book he said he “recognized it.” I then gave him the copy for personal use plus two Military Law Task Force Newsletters that Military Resistance receives periodically. It was encouraging to know Military Resistance Newsletter now has now a home at Ft. Hamilton. First time in memory there if I'm not mistaken.
ACTION REPORTS WANTED: FROM YOU!
An effective way to encourage others to support members of the armed forces organizing to resist the Imperial war is to report what you do. If you’ve carried out organized contact with troops on active duty, at base gates, airports, or anywhere else, send a report in to Military Resistance for the Action Reports section. Same for contact with National Guard and/or Reserve components. They don’t have to be long. Just clear, and direct action reports about what work was done and how. If there were favorable responses, say so. If there were unfavorable responses or problems, don’t leave them out. Reporting what went wrong and/or got screwed up is especially important, so that others may learn from you what to expect, and how to avoid similar problems if possible. If you are not planning or engaging in outreach to the troops, you have nothing to report.
Do not make public any information that could compromise the work. Identifying information – locations, personnel – will be omitted from the reports. Whether you are serving in the armed forces or not, do not identify members of the armed forces organizing to stop the wars. If accidentally included, that information will not be published. The sole exception: occasions when a member of the armed services explicitly directs identifying information be published in reporting on the action.
The Military Resistance Organization:
Military Resistance Mission Statement:
1. The mission of Military Resistance is to bring together in one organization members of the armed forces and civilians in order to give aid and comfort to members of the armed forces who are organizing to end the war of empire in Afghanistan. The long term objective is to assist in eliminating all wars of empire by eliminating all empires.
2. Military Resistance does not advocate individual disobedience to orders or desertion from the armed forces. The most effective resistance is organized by members of the armed forces working together. However, Military Resistance respects and will assist in the defense of troops who see individual desertion or refusal of orders as the only course of action open to them for reasons of conscience.
3. Military Resistance stands for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and other occupation troops from Afghanistan. Occupied nations have the right to independence and the right to resist Imperial invasion and occupation by force of arms.
4. Efforts to increase democratic rights in every society, organization, movement, and within the armed forces itself will receive encouragement and support. Members of the armed forces, whether those of the United States or any other nation, have the right and duty to act against dictatorships commanding their services, and to assist civilian movements against dictatorship. This applies whether a political dictatorship is imposed by force of arms or a political dictatorship is imposed by those in command of the resources of society using their wealth to purchase the political leadership.
5. Military Resistance uses organizational democracy. This means control of the organization by the membership, through elected delegates to any coordinating bodies that may be formed, whether at local, regional, or national levels. Any member may run for any job in the organization. All persons elected are subject to immediate recall, by majority vote of the membership. Coordinating bodies report their actions, decisions and votes to the membership who elected them, and may be overruled by a majority of the membership.
6. It is not necessary for Military Resistance to be in political agreement with other organizations in order to work together towards specific common objectives. It is productive for organizations working together on common projects to discuss differences about the best way forward for the movement. Debate is necessary to arrive at the best course of action.
7. It is a condition of membership that each member prioritize and participate in organized action to reach out to active duty armed forces, Reserve and/or National Guard units. 8. Military Resistance or individual members may choose to support candidates for elective office who are for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, but do not support a candidate opposed to immediate, unconditional withdrawal. 9. Members may not be active duty or drilling reserve commissioned officers, or employed in any capacity by any police or intelligence agency, local, state, or national. 10. I understand and am in agreement with the above statement. I pledge to defend my brothers and sisters, and the democratic rights of the citizens of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. ----------------------------(Signed (Date) ----------------------------- (Application taken by) Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550
You Can Take Action That Makes A Difference:
Join The Military Resistance Organization:
MILITARY RESISTANCE MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION
Name (please print): __________________________ Armed Forces? (Branch) ____________ Veteran? Years: ____________
Union: ____________________ Occupation: _________________________________________ Mailing address: ______________________________________ E-Mail:_____________________________ Phone (Landline):_______________________________________ Phone (Cell):___________________________________________ $ dues paid _________________________ (See next: Calendar year basis.) Armed Forces Members Civilians Students/Unemployed Civilian/Military Prisoners Comments: NOTE: Civilian applicants will be interviewed, in person if possible, or by phone. @ @ @ @ Dues waived $25 $10 Dues Waived
Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550
“People Need Not Be Helpless Before The Power Of Illegitimate Authority”
Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 Contact@militaryproject.org [Based on a statement by David Cortright, Vietnam Veteran and armed forces resistance organizer.]
In the final analysis the stationing of American forces abroad serves not the national interest but the class interest of the corporate and political elite. The maintenance of a massive, interventionist-oriented military establishment is based on the need to protect multinational investment and preserve regimes friendly to American capital. Imperialism is at the heart of the national-security system and is the force fundamentally responsible for the counterrevolutionary, repressive aims of U.S. policy. Only if we confront this reality and challenge it throughout society and within the ranks can we restore democratic control of the military. Of course nothing can be accomplished without citizen involvement and active political struggle. During the Vietnam era enlisted servicemen created massive pressures for change, despite severe repression, and significantly altered the course of the war and subsequent military policy. To sustain and strengthen this challenge we must continue to build political opposition to interventionism and support those within the armed services, including national guard and reserves, who defy the goals and program of Empire. The central lesson of the GI movement is that people need not be helpless before the power of illegitimate authority, that by getting together and acting upon their convictions people can change society and, in effect, make their own history. The Military Project
Military Resistance: Contact@militaryproject.org Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 888-711-2550
Comments, arguments, articles, and letters from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Write to Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 100255657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org: Name, I.D., withheld unless you request publication. Same address to unsubscribe.
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Mar 27 2014 By Ghanizada, Khaama Press Defense ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi said Thursday that two Afghan national army soldiers were martyred following improvised explosive devive (IED) explosion. Gen. Azimi further added that another Afghan national army (ANA) soldier was martyred in militants’ direct fire. He did not disclose further information regarding the exact locations of the incident.
“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.
“For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. “We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” Frederick Douglass, 1852
A revolution is always distinguished by impoliteness, probably because the ruling classes did not take the trouble in good season to teach the people fine manners. -- Leon Trotsky, History Of The Russian Revolution
Contractor Designs Air Force Jet, Chinese Missile To Shoot It Down:
“Pataiman Has Announced That For Increased Efficiency Both The F-24 And The PL-13 Will Be Manufactured At The Same Factory In U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s Home District In Ohio”
Photo Credit: Scott Ash / U.S. Air Force
March 26, 2014 By G-Had, The Duffle Blog WASHINGTON — Congress has promised to hold hearings after a Department of Defense watchdog turned up evidence that the contractor manufacturing the Air Force’s planned F-24 Boyd fighter jet was also being contracted by the Chinese military to design a missile to shoot it down. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” declared a visibly angry Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in a session of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. The senator made his remarks after a report by the Pentagon Inspector General revealed that Virginia-based Pataiman, or Patriotic Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation, which received the bid to develop and build the F-24 in 2002, was also simultaneously developing China’s PL-13 surface-to-air missile to shoot down the F-24. Pataiman has denied any a conflict of interest and claimed the whole affair is a simple misunderstanding. “We are taking these allegations extremely seriously,” wrote spokesman Dong Min in a response to media inquiries. He defended Pataiman’s connections with the Chinese military as a synergistic opportunity of vertical integration to help the company expand its 21st century global marketing footprint in a time of domestic austerity. Min also described the PL-13 as “purely defensive” in nature and said it was designed only for sale to the U.S. and NATO member states. However the company website, all in Mandarin, describes the missile as “perfect for helping you maintain air superiority over any large or small offshore Pacific islands you may have claimed.” According to Min, internal barriers between different subsidiaries of the company, set up to prevent any conflicts of interest, may have accidentally contributed to the problem. He included a picture from the company headquarters, which showed a state-of-the-art piece of cardboard separating the cubicles for the All-Weather Air Superiority Fighter and People’s Heroic Air Defense development teams. While the IG also suggests that Pataiman is in blatant violation of the Arms Export Control Act, Min added that scrupulous safeguards are in place to ensure that no U.S. technology is inadvertently transferred to China, with exception of course for any recovered from the wreckage of F-24′s shot down by them. Critics at the Pentagon responded by burning an effigy of Min in the building’s courtyard. The IG report also notes an open investigation by the Justice Department into a previous contract that Pataiman held with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device-Defeat Organization, which it was forced to drop in 2010 after an internal newsletter revealed the company was also helping unspecified parties in Pakistan develop a new type of explosive compound specifically undetectable by American anti-IED technology.
According to the IG, Pataiman pursued a similar dual-track strategy with both the United States and China: Offering to add features to the F-24 while simultaneously offering China countermeasures for the PL-13, then returning to the Pentagon to warn of those PL-13 countermeasures and claiming the F-24 would need even more features to counter those. An internal Pataiman memo cited in the IG report noted that this internal arms race was more profitable than actually building either weapons system, and hoped the company could stretch out the development of both through at least 2021. The IG has also launched a separate investigation into several Air Force colonels who initially uncovered Pataiman’s Chinese connections. Rather than notify anyone, they actually encouraged the company’s deception, seeing the PL-13 as a way to both increase the F-24′s funding and divert more of the defense budget to the Air Force. One of the colonels even suggested informally coordinating their weapons development with People’s Liberation Army, since according to him, “None of these are ever going to be used in combat anyways.” In response to the report, Pataiman has announced that for increased efficiency both the F-24 and the PL-13 will be manufactured at the same factory in U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s home district in Ohio.
CLASS WAR REPORTS
“The Founding Meeting Of The Political Council Of Iraqi Revolutionaries”
“The Council Delegates Met To Create The Political Arm Of The Iraqi Revolution”
4th of March 2014 Political Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries via Uruknet March 25, 2014. Thanks to Falastini Moghtareb for the Translation **********************************************************
The founding meeting of the Political Council of Iraqi Revolutionaries was held with success in the period of 1-2 March 2014. The council delegates met to create the political arm of the Iraqi revolution. The delegates praised the ongoing revolution noting its heroic performance while maintaining its autonomy and its self reliance. From the very first hours of the occupation of Iraq, the Iraqi people launched their valiant resistance that resulted in the defeat and withdrawal of US occupation troops on December 31st 2011 that in turn withdrew incurring heavy and painful losses. The destructive role in Iraq was then passed on from the Americans to the Safawi Persians and others gathered from all parts of the world. This alliance of ZionismImperialism has destroyed Iraq and devastated the infrastructure of the country targeting its governmental structure, its army, targeting and removing all earnest and patriotic persons serving the country. The founding meeting further discussed the destructive role of the agent government of Iraq that has committed great crimes against the Iraqi people including the spreading of hateful sectarianism within Iraqi society. In response the Iraqi people in 2011 revolted in peaceful demonstrations that demanded the end of foreign interference in Iraq and demanded the removal of the traitor and agent government that the occupation has instilled in its place. However, the traitor Iraqi government faced these peaceful demonstrations by brutal force. It arrested and murdered many activists who had joined and organized the protests. Yet the people went on with their peaceful protests until the situation escalated in December 2012 when protester demands developed further to demand tge government free prisoners and especially women prisoners when news of their rape and torture spread across Iraqi society. Six provinces declared their rebellion and soon after were joined by southern provinces such as Zi - Qar, Karbalaa, Wasit, and Basra as well as others. And although the protests maintained their peaceful nature, the government mobilized its troops to commit numerous massacres against the protesters, in Fallujah and Mosul, and then committed its infamous massacre in Hwejah on April 23 2013 where hundreds were killed, then committed the Saryah mosque massacre, continuing to target mosques, mass prayer gatherings, peaceful gatherings of the people. This criminal campaign went further to targeting in assassination campaigns religious leaders, scientists, professors, and members of the old patriotic Iraqi army. This was followed by massacres committed in Zarka, Najaf, Samaraa, Tel Afar, and others. Maliki and his troops did not stop but instead fueled by their sectarianism attacked the rebelling cities of Fallujah and Ramadi whose people had no choice then but to bear arms in order to defend themselves. The crimes of Maliki and his troops extended to Baghdad in a desperate attempt to punish the Iraqi people who for 11 years supported and aided the Iraqi Resistance.
Sectarian cleansing of Baghdad was practiced in an attempt to divide and fragment the city along sectarian lines. The Iraqi revolt now had no choice in this vicious confrontation with Maliki but to organize itself in military councils that were announced across Iraq. The military councils are made of the finest of officers and soldiers of the old patriotic Iraqi army. Likewise, the political council has been formed to break through the media blackout and its lies about the Iraqi revolution; with such fabrications as depicting it the making of terrorists. This political council has been founded to support and enable the Iraqi revolt to victory. The aims of the political council are as follows: 1. To insist on the unity of Iraq and its people and to enable the national Iraqi program of liberation to end the occupation of Iraq and to remove all client and traitor agents left behind by the occupation. 2. To confront Safawi Iran and its plans for the destruction of Iraq. 3. For the council to serve as the political and strategic arm of support for the military councils. 4. To support the ongoing Iraqi revolution and to gain international support for it as a revolution that represents all Iraqis not just a sect of Iraqis. 5. To gain Arab support for the Iraqi revolution from neighboring Arab countries, the Arab league, and the Islamic cooperation council. 6. To expose the crimes, human rights abuses, and mass extermination of the Iraqi people at the hands of the criminal and murderous regime in Baghdad. 7. To halt the corrupt political process started by the agent government and all that has come out of it. 8. To reassert the equality of the Iraqi people in their national rights and obligations. 9. The council reaffirms its embrace of all those who repent and remove themselves from participating in the corrput political process. 10. The council reasserts that punishment of those who spilled Iraqi blood or stole Iraq's wealth will not target those who participated while being misled or that have been forced to this path by the need for material gain by their desperate living circumstances. 12. The council will ensure no political vacuum exists that will come from the bringing down of the traitor government and ending its corrupt political process. This will take place through the creation of a temporary government representative of all forces of the Iraqi national resistance. The council declares:
1. A temporary parliament will be voted in place that drafts a new constitution representing the ambitions of the Iraqi people and respecting their civil and political rights. This new constitution is to be approved through a public vote of the Iraqi people. 2. To hold free and just elections in accordance with international measures of credibility and fairness. 3. To reinstate the old Iraqi national army and its organizations in accordance with professional qualifications of individuals and their merits. 4. To ensure the proper use and distribution of Iraq's wealth and natural resources that ensures a high quality of economic and social standards of living for Iraqi citizens. 5. To remove all enacted unjust laws and regulations imposed on Iraqi citizens by the client regime. 6. To build a country based on law and respecting the rights of Iraqi citizens devoid of sectarian and racial discrimination. Our people of Iraq, what has been accomplished in this meeting is but one step forward to filling the aspirations of the Iraqi people for an independent, prosperous, and free Iraq devoid of occupation. The council pledges to exercise all its power and spare no effort to accomplish the aspirations of the Iraqi people and calls on all of Iraq's national resisting forces to support the council and to accomplish its mission. The council reasserts its pledge to protect the national rights of Iraq in accordance with international laws and protection of human rights. Yet the council reaffirms its rejection in joining any political program in place by the occupation forces and its sectarian government agents. Lastly, the council salutes all those who resisted and stood against the occupation of Iraq. We pledge our commitment to all those earnest in their efforts to build a prosperous and free Iraq, we open our door willingly to all who want to dialogue with us on the basis of a mutual commitment to preserving Iraq's unity and its Arab national and Islamic affiliation. Long Live Iraq Free, Proud, and One! The general political council of Iraqi revolutionaries.
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DANGER: CAPITALISTS AT WORK
Nothing Short Of A War Crime:
Zionists Occupiers Execute Unarmed 14 Year Old
Mar. 28, 2014 Haaretz Newspaper Editorial Last week, 14-year-old Yusef a-Shawamreh and two of his friends left their village of Deir al-Asal al-Fauqa in the southern West Bank to pick plants on his family’s field, west of the separation fence. The three youths passed through a wide gap in the fence, which had existed for at least two years and which the Israel Defense Forces hadn’t bothered to fix. After crossing the fence, the boys heard three or four gunshots.
The firing came from an IDF ambush, a few dozen meters away. According to an investigation by B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, released on Wednesday, the shots had been fired with no warning. A-Shawamreh was wounded in the hip and fell to the ground bleeding. He managed to crawl to the road, but then the soldiers emerged from their hiding place. The soldiers arrested the other two boys and a-Shawamreh received preliminary medical treatment. A military ambulance arrived only half an hour later, although an IDF camp is located a mere two kilometers away. Meanwhile, the boy bled to death. A-Shawamreh was declared dead at Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva, where he was eventually taken. The IDF spokesman’s statement said the soldiers taking part in the ambush noticed “three suspicious Palestinians who were vandalizing the separation fence, and opened fire at them according to the procedure for arresting a suspect. When the Palestinians refused to respond to the soldiers’ calls, the force opened fire, wounding one of the Palestinians.” The details in B’Tselem’s investigation and Amira Hass’ report (Haaretz, March 24) paint a completely different picture. The boys did not vandalize the fence, and the soldiers fired at them without warning. This chain of events is extremely grave. Opening fire automatically on people who pass through a gap in the fence is abhorrent and despicable. A-Shawamreh is the victim of a war crime. There is no other way to describe the circumstances of his death. The IDF cannot make do with its spokesman’s attempt to whitewash the incident. It must hold a vigorous investigation and then put on trial the soldiers responsible and the commanders who sent them on the mission.
Colonists Grab Huge Piece Of Palestinian Land, As Usual:
“Palestinian Land Owners Shocked To Find Bulldozers From
Nearby Colony Marking The Land As Though It Belonged To The Colony”
“The Colonists Used A Similar Strategy To Seize Another Piece Of Land Three Years Ago”
“Land Seizures And Deportation Of Evicted Palestinian Families Have Reached Unprecedented Levels”
March 10, 2014 By Nasouh Nazzal Correspondent, Gulf News Ramallah: Israeli colonists have taken over a huge Palestinian owned piece of land in the Al Maleh area of the Jordan Valley region. On Monday, Israeli bulldozers belonging to the nearby colony of Roi started earmarking the land. Apparently the colonists assumed the land was their property and acted accordingly. According to Aref Daraghmah, the Chief of the Council of Al Maleh and the Bedouin areas in the Jordan Valley region, the Israeli colonists have taken over 100 Dunums of land on which the occupation forces had conducted periodic military training. “The Palestinian owners of the land had known that it had been used by the occupation forces for military training, but the owners were shocked to find civilian bulldozers from the nearby colony marking the land as though it belonged to the colony,” he told Gulf News. The land is four kilometres away from the colony of Roi and the colonists intended to build new facilities for the colony. Daraghmah said that the colonists of Roi used a similar strategy to seize another piece of land three years ago. He said that land had first been used by the occupation forces for training, after which the colonists seized it and used it to grow grapes. In that instance, the colonists also insisted that the land was theirs.
A senior official from Jericho and Jordan Valley Region told Gulf News that the Jordan Valley region had been used by the occupation forces for training and that hundreds of original residents were evacuated from their houses and lands when those regular training periods occurred. Several casualties among civilian Palestinians have been reported during military training in the region. The official condemned the Israeli military training conducted in Jericho and the Jordan Valley region, labelling those exercises a major source of disturbance and danger for Palestinian residents. Security control over the Jordan Valley areas has been a key point of disagreement between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel during the ongoing peace negotiations. Israel insists on having a military presence to secure Israeli borders with Jordan and the PNA insists that not a single Israeli soldier should be in the entire region. Rather, the PNA would prefer Nato forces are present in the region to deal with security issues. The official said that Israel has been implementing a strategy in the Jordan Valley areas as land seizures and deportation of evicted Palestinian families have reached unprecedented levels.
Israeli Forces Demolish Bedouin Village In Negev For 66th Time: “No Matter What You Do, We Will Never Give Up Our Right In AlAraqib, The Land Of Our Fathers And Grandfathers"
Dozens Of People Left In The Open Despite Heavy Rains And Severe Cold:
13/03/2014 Ma'an BEERSHEBA -- Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 66th time on Wednesday, leaving dozens of people in the open despite heavy rains.
A large number of Israeli police and bulldozers surrounded the village in the early morning and demolished all of the residential steel structures. "Israeli occupation forces raided the village at 6:15 a.m. and demolished its houses for the 66th time," one of the residents, Aziz al-Touri, told Ma'an. "Under such conditions and with this heavy rain and severe cold, we tell Israeli officials that what you did is a crime against humanity. But no matter what you do, we will never give up our right in al-Araqib, the land of our fathers and grandfathers." Two days earlier, inspectors from the Israel Land Authority had entered the village to take pictures of steel houses erected by residents near a cemetery. Israel considers al-Araqib and most other Bedouin villages in the Negev illegal, while Bedouins say it is their ancestral land. There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Israel, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south. More than half live in unrecognized villages without utilities and many also live in extreme poverty.
To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation commanded by foreign terrorists, go to: http://www.maannews.net/eng/Default.aspx and http://www.palestinemonitor.org/list.php?id=ej898ra7yff0ukmf16 The occupied nation is Palestine. The foreign terrorists call themselves “Israeli.”
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
“Elena’s Killing Is One In A String Of Unnecessary Killings By Border Patrol Agents Along The U.S. Border With Mexico”
“‘To Me, It Was Cold-Blooded Murder,’ Said Isidro Alvarado Ortiz, A 37-Year-Old Security Guard”
“I’ve Been In Law Enforcement For 46 Years, And I’ve Never Seen An Agency Shoot At Anybody Because They Had A Rock Thrown At Them,”
“The U.S.’S Largest Law Enforcement Agency Refuses To Make The Video Of The Killing Public”
Critics are skeptical, however, about the Border Patrol’s version. They note that in Elena’s case, witnesses say that at least two agents fired, that both were well above whoever might have been throwing rocks, and that they literally stretched their arms across the border to shoot. 23 March 2014 By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers [Excerpts] Nogales, Mexico – Sixteen-year-old Jose Antonio Elena got the kind of punishment that those who toss rocks at Border Patrol agents receive with startling frequency: He was shot with a .40-caliber round from an agent’s service weapon.
The bullet hit Elena in the back of the head. He slumped mortally wounded to a sidewalk on the Mexican side, a few paces from the border fence. At least two agents, perched on the U.S. side about 20 feet above the street and shielded by the fence’s closely spaced iron bars, continued to fire, witnesses said. In all, 10 bullets struck Elena, spattering a wall behind him with blood. Yet Jose Antonio Elena may not have tossed any rocks at all. He may have been just walking on a sidewalk on Mexican soil, an innocent passerby. The Border Patrol has a video of the events that night, Oct. 10, 2012. The video likely shows whether U.S. agents killed an innocent Mexican or shot a member of a marijuana smuggling ring. But the U.S.’s largest law enforcement agency refuses to make the video public. The agents remain on the job, neither publicly identified nor receiving any disciplinary action. Elena’s killing is one in a string of what critics say are unnecessary killings by Border Patrol agents along the U.S. border with Mexico. At least 21 people have died in confrontations with Border Patrol agents, often out of sight of witnesses or fellow agents, in the past four years. Those cases include 10 people who’ve been killed for throwing rocks, according to the Border Patrol’s own statistics, and there have been 43 cases since 2010 when agents have opened fire on rock throwers. But there are no known cases where an agent has been disciplined for improperly using force. Border Patrol chief Michael J. Fisher defended his agents earlier this month, saying they had shown remarkable restraint and pointing out that they’d been pelted with rocks 1,713 times in the same period. Still, he issued a directive telling his agents to take cover, rather than open fire, when items are thrown their way. He added, however, that rocks can be deadly projectiles, and agents may shoot when their lives are in danger. The Border Patrol did not respond to requests for information about Elena’s death. At the time of the shooting, it issued a statement saying that a lone agent had “discharged his service firearm” after suspected smugglers ignored “verbal commands from agents” to stop throwing rocks, according to an Oct. 13, 2012, story posted on the website of the local newspaper, the Nogales International.
The Border Patrol acknowledged then that surveillance cameras had captured the event and that the video had been turned over to the FBI. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, Cosme Lopez, said he could “neither confirm nor deny” any information about the Elena killing, including whether an investigation was still open. Critics are skeptical, however, about the Border Patrol’s version. They note that in Elena’s case, witnesses say that at least two agents fired, that both were well above whoever might have been throwing rocks, and that they literally stretched their arms across the border to shoot. The agents fired between 25 and 30 rounds from their overlook, witnesses said _ some apparently wildly, despite the scene being a busy downtown area. Pock marks can still be seen high on the wall of a nearby residence.
One witness on the Mexican side of the border calls Elena’s death murder. Those tossing rocks ran down a side street, escaping before the shooting started, he said. Elena was walking on the sidewalk when the rock throwers darted past him. “To me, it was cold-blooded murder,” said Isidro Alvarado Ortiz, a 37-year-old security guard who said he was walking about 30 paces behind Elena when the agents opened fire. Alvarado has given testimony to the FBI but like several Mexicans involved in the case, he has grown frustrated at the lack of U.S. action on the investigation. “Imagine if it had occurred the other way around – if a Mexican had killed one of them. They would’ve come the next day to get the person,” Alvarado said. Tony Estrada, the sheriff of Arizona’s Santa Cruz County, where the U.S. half of Nogales is located, calls the apparent limbo into which the case has fallen after 18 months a “failure.”
“I’ve Been In Law Enforcement For 46 Years, And I’ve Never Seen An Agency Shoot At Anybody Because They Had A Rock Thrown At Them”
“It needs to be aired out. If there’s responsibility, we need to place that responsibility.” No one disputes that young unarmed smugglers carrying drugs scamper over the border fence every day of the week, using spotters to warn of the movements of Border Patrol vehicles and rock throwers to divert attention. One has to see the fence climbing to believe how common an occurrence it has become. The fence is 18- to 30-feet tall – a seemingly impassable barrier. But at midafternoon on a recent weekday, a reporter was speaking to a bus line employee near the fence when the employee nodded in an opposing direction. Two youths loped across the road a block away and shimmied up the interconnected steel tubes that comprise the fence, hoisting their bodies over the top and sliding down the other side – all within 30 seconds. Several minutes later, and just as quickly, they climbed back over the fence into Mexico. The night of Elena’s killing, Nogales, Ariz., police officers and Border Patrol agents were summoned around 11:30 p.m. to snare fence climbers carrying what was assumed to be bundles of marijuana. Among them was municipal K-9 officer John V. Zuniga, who arrived to see two young men scaling the fence to get back into Mexico. On the Mexican side, fellow Mexicans yelled profanities at the law enforcement agents. “I then heard several rocks start hitting the ground and I looked up and I could see the rocks flying through the air. I advised communications that we were being rocked and I advised the other units to stay clear,” Zuniga later wrote in a police report. A fellow agent said, “Hey, your canine’s been hit!” the report said.
As he took cover, Zuniga wrote, he heard “several gunshots go off and I saw an agent standing near the fence. I advised communications that gunshots were being fired, and I was unsure where the gunshots were coming from and who was firing them.” On the other side of the border, Jose Carlos Zarate Marquez, a local Mexican restaurateur, was just pulling into his driveway at the corner of Internacional Street _ which runs parallel to the border fence – and Ingenieros Street when he heard a commotion. Zarate peeked from the edge of his property. Two young Mexican males were near the top of the fence on the U.S. side. Border Patrol agents were trying to get them to come down. “They were poking at them with a stick,” Zarate said. Four youths on the Mexican side tried to distract the Border Patrol. “They threw rocks to shoo away the agents and to let their companions through,” Zarate said, adding that the two Mexicans made it over the fence and all six began scattering across the street. It was then that shots rang out. “There were about 30 shots – from the two sides. Up there and over there,” Zarate said, pointing to the top of a knoll and a lower spot to the east. “They were shooting helter-skelter. Look at all the pockmarks on that building,” he said, pointing to a building on a corner opposite his house that is the officeresidence of a local physician. The victim of the night’s gunfire, Jose Antonio Elena, was a 5-foot-9 teenager who dreamed of a life in the military. “He’d say, ‘As soon as I turn 18, I am joining the army,’” recalled his mother, Araceli Rodriguez, a 41-year-old bank worker, as she sat in her home near an impromptu altar centered on a large framed photo of the adolescent. The home is about a quarter of a mile from where he was killed. The night of the killing, Rodriguez said, her son left home to meet his older brother, Diego, who was finishing his shift as a clerk at a local convenience store. When Jose Antonio got to the store, colleagues said Diego had already left. Jose Antonio strolled back along Calle Internacional, the well-illuminated street that hugs the high steel border fence that divides Nogales in half and separates the two countries. Today, wall posters that declare, “We demand justice, Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez,” as well as a metal cross bearing an image of the slain youth mark the spot where the teenager was hit with the first bullet behind his right ear.
“If It Showed Him Throwing Rocks, They Would Have Exhibited It Already”
Other bullets came fast: one to the back of the neck, six in the back and one in each arm, according to the autopsy report. Crime scene photos show Elena wearing a bloodstained short-sleeve gray shirt, jeans, checked boxer shorts and gray-and-black sneakers. None of that clothing matches what Officer Zuniga said he saw on the two fence jumpers whose escape to Mexico had started the melee. One wore a white shirt, the other a blue one, Zuniga wrote in his report. Overhead – at the top of the knoll on the U.S. side of the border – is a metal pole topped with remotely operated video cameras that monitor the border. There is little doubt that one of the cameras captured the scene, including whether any rock thrower wore clothing matching what was found on Elena. What appears on that video “is huge. It’s very important. It will verify whether the civilian witnesses are being truthful about what occurred that evening,” said Luis F. Parra, an American attorney for Elena’s family who has filed a notice of claim against the U.S. government for wrongful death. “If it showed him throwing rocks, they would have exhibited it already,” added the family’s Mexican attorney, Manuel Iniguez Lopez. Reticence by the Border Patrol to release the video is understandable. Errors in judgment would be embarrassing to agents and potentially costly to taxpayers. Another Border Patrol agent, Nicholas Corbett, faced two second-degree murder trials after allegedly shooting a migrant dead in January 2007. Both trials ended in hung juries, but press reports from the time say the U.S. government paid $850,000 in civil remedies to surviving family members. A video might also show whether Border Patrol agents were in “imminent danger of death or serious injury” from thrown rocks, a precondition for using lethal force. “You’d have to be a Major League pitcher to hurt someone,” Iniguez said, noting that the height of the hill and the towering nature of the fence itself offered the agents protection. “We want to see photos of the damage those rocks did to windows and to the agents.” In the only other fatal shooting of a rock thrower in Nogales in recent years, video played a key role in quieting disgruntlement in Mexico. That case also involved a minor, Ramses Barron Torres, a 17-year-old, who around 3 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2011, was among an alleged group of smugglers on the eastern outskirts of Nogales that was thwarted by Border Patrol agents as they crossed into the United States.
According to a report dated Aug. 8, 2013, from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the group scuttled back over the wall with their marijuana loads and began tossing rocks. “A videotape of the incident shows the victim hurling rocks into the U.S. from the Mexico side of the fence, then falling to the ground suddenly while he was in the midst of throwing a rock,” the report says. Like in the Elena case, agents fired through the slits in the fence and shot Barron Torres while he was on Mexican soil. Curiously, by waiting for the smugglers to get back into Mexico and shooting them there, the agents sidestepped a possible crime. “A civil rights crime does not exist because the victim was in Mexico when he was shot and killed,” the report says, adding that it was impossible to disprove that the agent was acting in self-defense. Still, Mexican officials said U.S. law enforcement should find means to disable rock throwers other than lethal force. Some say it doesn’t matter if Elena tossed a rock or not. “International treaties say you can’t shoot another person if they are unarmed,” said Hector Quintero Pacheco, the Sonora state human rights ombudsman in Nogales. It is an opinion that is widespread in Nogales. “He was just a kid. I don’t think it is fair to take someone’s life just for a rock,” said Samuel Santos, an 18-year-old who works in a call center and speaks native English. “People keep asking me, ‘What was your son doing there?’ But no one answers my questions,” Elena’s mother said, and a torrent of questions poured from her lips. “Who are the killers and why haven’t they been tried? Who are they to avoid justice?” she asked. “Can we Mexicans stick our arms through the border fence and start to shoot?”
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