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Espionage &China's fast-paced military buildup

Mexican Border clash - Nat'l Guard Retreats

Police Attack School Children

S3901 "Terrorist" Bill Brings Martial Law

RFID "Zapper"

Bush Supports Americans Being Subject to UN World Court

BUSH PROPOSAL TO MAKE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS "LEGAL"

Oil Profits during Katrina highest in history

China threatens to nuke U.S. cities

Iraq's hidden stories


Espionage fuels China's fast-paced military buildup: Pentagon

http://news.yahoo.com/espionage-fuels-chinas-fast-paced-military-buildup-pentagon-234031209.html

May 6, 2013
REUTERS • By David Alexander and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China is using espionage to acquire technologies to fuel its fast-paced military modernization program, the Pentagon said on Monday in an annual report that for the first time accused Beijing of trying to break into U.S. defense computer networks.

In its 83-page annual report to Congress on Chinese military developments, the Pentagon also cited progress in Beijing's effort to develop advanced-technology stealth aircraft and build an aircraft carrier fleet to project power further offshore.

The report said China's cyber snooping was a "serious concern" that pointed to an even greater threat because the "skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks."

"The U.S. government continued to be targeted for (cyber) intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," it said, adding the main purpose of the hacking was to gain information to benefit defense industries, military planners and government leaders.

A spokeswoman said it was the first time the annual Pentagon report had cited Beijing for targeting U.S. defense networks. Despite concerns over the intrusions, a senior U.S. defense official said his main worry was China's over lack of transparency about its military intentions.

"What concerns me is the extent to which China's military modernization occurs in the absence of the type of openness and transparency that others are certainly asking of China," David Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, told a Pentagon briefing on the report.

Helvey welcomed Chinese moves toward greater openness but said there were still many unanswered questions and warned of the "potential implications and consequences of that lack of transparency on the security calculations of others in the region."

The annual China report, which Congress began requesting in 2000, comes amid ongoing tensions in the region due to China's military assertiveness and expansive claims of sovereignty over disputed islands and shoals. Beijing has ongoing territorial disputes with the Philippines, Japan and other neighbors.

Beijing's publicly announced defense spending has grown at an inflation-adjusted pace of nearly 10 percent annually over the past decade, but Helvey said China's actual outlays were thought to be higher.

China announced a 10.7 percent increase in military spending to $114 billion in March, the Pentagon report said. Publicly announced defense spending for 2012 was $106 billion, but actual pending for 2012 could range between $135 billion and $215 billion, it said. U.S. defense spending is more than double that, at more than $500 billion.

The report highlighted China's continuing efforts to gain access to sophisticated military technology to fuel its modernization program. It cited a laundry list of methods, including "state-sponsored industrial and technical espionage to increase the level of technologies and expertise available to support military research, development and acquisition."

"China continues to engage in activities designed to support military procurement and modernization," the report said. "These include economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, export control violations, and technology transfer."

Dean Cheng, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said he was surprised by the number of cases of human espionage - as opposed to just cyber prying - cited in the report.

"This is a PLA that is extensively, comprehensively modernizing ... they're pushing across the board," Cheng said. "China is also comprehensively engaging in espionage."

China tested its second advanced stealth fighter in as many years in October 2012, highlighting its "continued ambition to produce advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft," the report said. Neither aircraft of its stealth aircraft is expected to achieve effective operational capability before 2018, it said.

Last year also saw China commission its first domestically produced aircraft carrier, the report said. China currently has one aircraft carrier purchased abroad and conducted its first takeoff and landing from the ship in November, the report said.

It predicted China would spend three to four years training and integrating the ship into its fleet before having a fully operational aircraft carrier capability.

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Guardsmen Overrun at Border

http://www.corruptionchronicles.com/2007/01/national_guard_attacked_near_m.html

Jan. 4, 2007 02:44 PM

Armed Mexican drug smugglers ransacked a National Guard unit in the Arizona desert this week, contradicting immigrant advocates' portrait of a U.S.-Mexico border crossed only by humble and desperate migrants in pursuit of the American dream.

Mexican Army on maneuvers.
The attack took place late at night in a portion of the Arizona-Mexico border near Nogales that is well known as a drug corridor. In fact, the 120-mile stretch of desert is the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson sector's busiest for drug seizures. Last year alone, 124,000 pounds of narcotics were confiscated in the area.

Evidently aware that the U.S. National Guard is helping the overwhelmed Border Patrol man these remote portions of the border, the violent Mexican drug smugglers used force to assure their cargo made it safely into the country. The National Guardsmen were forced to retreat and eventually, the attackers scrambled back into Mexico.

This is not the first time these sophisticated Mexican drug cartels use force to penetrate the United States. In fact, they often team up with members of the Mexican military and criminal gangs to assure their valuable goods make it into the country. Sometimes they get individuals, supposedly pursuing a better life in America, to carry smaller loads in backpacks.

Hundreds of incursions by the Mexican military have been documented in the southern border since the late 1990s, with Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement officers regularly coming under gunfire attack. For years federal government officials denied the invasions, but fed up law enforcement officials in Texas took photos and provided other evidence.

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2:
Mexican Soldiers Freelancing for Drug Cartels on US Soil


www.cnsnews.com/news/viewstory.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200612/NAT20061221a.html

Mexican Soldiers Freelancing for Drug Cartels on US Soil
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
December 21, 2006

(CNSNews.com) - Gun-toting members of the Mexican military are crossing regularly into U.S. territory, where they are partnering with drug cartels and criminal gangs to protect sophisticated smuggling operations, according to Texas sheriffs and lawmakers.

U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southwestern border have come under attack from the Mexican side in recent months, frequently with automatic gunfire, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) told Cybercast News Service.

Mexican military units and drug cartels have access to weaponry and communications equipment far more advanced than resources made available to U.S. border officials, Culberson said.

"The U.S. Border Patrol is telling its agents to just lay low and report on the size of the [Mexican military] unit, the number of personnel, the direction of travel."

More than 200 incursions by the Mexican military of the U.S. southern border have been documented since the late 1990s, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said in an interview.

"Our federal government denied it occurred until the Texas sheriffs took photos," he said. "There is no nation in the world that would allow this invasion to occur except for the United States."

Mexican military personnel have been observed crossing the Rio Grande into Hudspeth County, Texas, in an apparent effort to safeguard drug shipments.

Although some of the narcotics were seized, the deputies were forced to suspend their pursuit once the Mexican soldiers intervened, according to West's testimony.

According to Sheriff Leo Samaniego of El Paso County, Mexican soldiers perform "flanking maneuvers," forcing deputies into defensive positions.

Samaniego recalled another Mexican military incursion he said had taken place in Santa Teresa, N.M., located across the state line from El Paso. Mexican soldiers in two Humvees "chased after" a U.S. Border Patrol agent until backup arrived while another U.S. agent also came under gunfire, Samaniego told Cybercast News Service.

"Mexican officials gave the excuse that it was a new military unit that got lost and didn't know it was in the U.S.," he said. "But I find this hard to believe."

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Armed Men Terrorize School

Michigan raid part of unfolding agenda to mould schools into prisons and students into obedient slaves

Prison Planet.com | November 1, 2006
By Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones

A recent incident in which armed riot police raided a Michigan junior and high school as part of a drill that the children were not aware was about to take place raises the bar in the pursuit of an agenda to fully transform public schools into prison training camps set up to breed continuous generations of obedient slaves.

The Associated Press reports,

"A school safety drill that included police officers in riot gear with weapons has caused concern among some parents who say it was too realistic and frightened some students."

"Students, who were unaware police were conducting a drill, were taken from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets, the newspaper said."

"Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants," said Marge Bradshaw, a parent with four children in Godfrey-Lee Schools. "I think it's pure wrong that the students and parents were not informed of this."

The students were not told that the drill was about to take place and the teachers were given just a moments notice.

This follows an incident in early October where another Michigan school was locked down for hours after a teenager was seen in the woods wearing a Halloween mask.

The raid is similar to past examples such as Goose Creek South Carolina (video below), where armed police raided a high school with weapons drawn supposedly in search of drugs. Shouting officers aimed guns at students heads as they were ordered face-up against the wall, then into Guantanamo style squats as they were handcuffed and K9 dogs sniffed their backpacks.

No drugs were found and the Goose Creek Police Department, the city, as well as the Berkeley County School District had to pay $1.6 million for violating the rights of nearly 150 students caught in the raid. The three had to sign a consent decree barring similar activities in future but it included a waver where probable cause or voluntary consent could be cited to conduct further raids.

Having armed men terrorize children is by design and it is intended to normalize the police state and train students to accept it as a routine function of society when they leave school.

Footage from other school raid drills where police in riot gear point MP5's at students is included in the footage below, taken from Alex Jones' 9/11: The Road To Tyranny . FBI storm troopers in black uniforms and helmets scream and cuss at children in one instance before loading them on buses and taking them to a local jail. In Fort Worth Texas, the cop of the year was shot in the head by one of his own officers in another school drill.

Also highlighted is the Heartland Christian Academy school siege where CPS and police kidnapped hundreds of children without a warrant. Watch in horror as children filled with terror are forcibly dragged from their screaming mothers and loaded onto prison buses.

A federal judge later barred CPS from removing children from the school in future but vaguely defined provisions remained in place where it could be justified.



Bill S. 3901 - Martial Law for U.S. Citizens


[Still collecting information]

http://www.freemarketnews.com/Analysis/64/6049/jim.asp?wid=64&nid=6049 - Messages about this bill

Google News search on this sotry
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RFID Zapper


Two students have turned a disposable camera into a gadget that literally shocks the power out of RFID tags. The gadget is designed to deactivate (destroy) passive RFID-Tags permanently.

"We have to expect to be surrounded by RFID-Tags almost everywhere within the near future, and they will serve many different purposes," write Tim and Chris online (no last names given).

"The benefits and risks of this technology and its use are already being discussed. "However, there will be attempts to use RFID-Tags to establish constant surveillance and to further threaten and compromise the privacy of customers (and citizens and even non-citizens, when [governments] start to use RFID-Tags like the German [government] already did).

There are several ways to deactivate RFID-Tags, including RFID-deactivators, which send the RFID-Tag to sleep. "A problem with this method is, that it is not permanent, the RFID-Tag can be reactivated," write Tim and Chris.

"Several ways of permanently deactivating RFID-Tags are known, e.g., cutting off the antenna from the actual microchip or overloading and literally frying the RFID-Tag in a common microwave-oven, which needs to be turned on only for a short period of time. "Unfortunately both methods aren't suitable for the destruction of RFID-Tags in clothes: cutting off the antenna would require to damage the piece of cloth, while frying the chips is likely to cause a small but potent flame, which would damage most textiles or even set them on fire."

Their proposed "RFID-Zapper" copies the microwave-oven-method, but on a much smaller scale. The duo modified the electric component of a singe-use-camera with flash, readily available in most retail outlets, to "keep the costs of the RFID-Zapper as low as possible". The coil is made from coated copper wire and placed inside the camera where the film normally lies.

"Then one end of the coil is soldered to the camera's capacitor, from which we earlier disconnected the flash, the other end of the coil is soldered to a switch, which itself is connected to the capacitor's other terminal. Once everything is tested, the camera can be closed again and henceforth will serve as a RFID-Zapper, destroying RFID-Tags with the power of ordinary batteries."

The zapper generates a strong electromagnetic field with a coil, which, claim the inventors, should be placed as near to the target RFID-Tag as possible. The RFID-Tag then will receive a strong shock of energy comparable with an EMP and some part of it will blow, thus deactivating the chip forever. Until now the pair have only had access to 13.56 MHz RFID tags, but hope to be able to test the RFID-Zapper on other tags soon.

A German privacy advocacy group -- FoeBuD -- plans to manufacture and sell a device that consumers could used to disable RFID tags permanently. FoeBuD says it wants to manufacture the RFID-Zapper and sell it at its online store. The group met with a hardware developer last week, but says it has no timescale for production or product price yet.

www.supplychainreview.com.au/index.cfm?li=displaystory&StoryID=25767

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The following is an archive of a Washington Post report on President George W. Bush's allowing of Americans to be tried by the United Nation's "International Criminal Court". It is stored here in the event the article becomes unavailable. Originally posted on: seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001962917_court23.html

Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M

U.S. drops effort to shield troops from world court

By Colum Lynch, The Washington Post

UNITED NATIONS The Bush administration has abandoned its plan to seek passage of a Security Council resolution providing an open-ended exemption for U.S. personnel serving in U.N.-authorized peacekeeping missions from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, senior U.S. and Security Council diplomats said.

Under increasing criticism of abuses of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States was facing a diplomatic defeat in the 15-nation council over the U.S.-sponsored text. Instead, it is now pressing for a resolution that would shield U.S. personnel from prosecution only through June 2005.

The court was established under a 1998 treaty to prosecute individuals responsible for the most serious crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Since the court began its work, in July 2002, the United States has demanded the council grant its personnel exemption from prosecution in order to carry out its peacekeeping obligations.

In reducing that demand, senior U.S. officials said yesterday they have written assurances from 90 countries that they would not surrender U.S. personnel to the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Still, without a Security Council grant of exemption, there is a possibility, however slim, that U.S. troops accused of massive human-rights violations could be prosecuted by the court if U.S. authorities refused to try the cases. In such cases, the crime must have occurred on the soil of a country that ratified the 1998 treaty but did not sign an agreement with the United States.

Afghanistan, for example, has ratified the treaty, but also has signed an agreement with the United States pledging not to hand over U.S. personnel to the court. Iraq has not ratified the treaty.

At the request of the United States, the Philippines' U.N. ambassador, Lauro Baja, said he intends to introduce an amendment calling for a final one-year extension of a July 2002 resolution, that shields troops from countries, like the United States, that have not ratified the treaty.

Last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council to oppose the U.S. resolution seeking an open-ended exemption.

In a confidential memo, Annan told the council it would discredit the United Nations and undercut efforts to "promote the rule of international law."

Annan's remarks have hardened opposition to the resolution. Several key council members including Chile, Algeria and Pakistan, which recently considered supporting the U.S. resolution say they are now undecided.

"Everybody is watching to see what the others are going to do," said Algeria's U.N. ambassador, Abdullah Baali.

The treaty establishing the court has been signed by 135 countries and ratified by 94. President Clinton signed it in December 2000, but the Bush administration renounced it in May 2002, cautioning it could be used to carry out frivolous trials against U.S. troops.

Only a month ago, the administration was confident the council would adopt the resolution. But the initiative began to unravel after Chile decided to abstain and China warned it might do likewise or even veto the resolution, citing abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

U.S. officials said China, which has also not ratified the treaty, opposed resolution because the United States recently supported Taiwan's bid for observer status in the World Health Assembly.


The International Criminal Court
The 1998 Rome Treaty established The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, which started operating last year. The governments of 94 countries have ratified the treaty signed by 135 countries. President Clinton signed it in December 2000, but the Bush administration renounced it in May 2002, cautioning it could be used to carry out frivolous trials against U.S. troops. An exemption resolution was first approved in 2002 after the United States vetoed a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and threatened to kill off other U.N. missions, one by one, unless the council went along with its demand. But the abuse by U.S. troops of prisoners in Iraq played a major role in generating opposition in the council this year. It is considered a tribunal of last resort and would only hear complaints against a person from a nation unable or unwilling to probe potential war crimes, thereby excluding abuses in Iraq, which Washington is investigating.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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[BUSH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION PUSH: Story]

[From "Washington Post": http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63428-2004Jan7.html

Bush Proposes Legal Status for Immigrant Labor


Workers Could Stay Six Years or More
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 8, 2004; Page A01

President Bush, saying the nation has failed millions of illegal immigrants who live in fear of deportation, yesterday proposed an ambitious plan that would allow undocumented workers to legally hold jobs in the United States for the first time.

Some members of Congress said that would have the effect of rewarding people who had broken the law by using phony documents to obtain jobs. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said he believes Congress can come up with "a strong and compassionate policy" on immigration but said he has "heartfelt reservations about allowing illegal immigrants into a U.S. guest-worker program that seems to reward illegal behavior."



Sept 8, 2005

EXXON PROFITS BREAK HISTORICAL RECORD

In Wake Of Price-Gouging Following Hurricane Katrina

www.wnymedia.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=80&Itemid=35

Oil companies came under new fire yesterday when it emerged that ExxonMobil's profits are likely to soar above $10 billion this quarter on the back of the fuel crisis.

That's $110 million a day, and more net income than ANY COMPANY has ever made in a quarter. It's also a stunning 69 percent increase over the same period a year ago and a 34 percent jump from the $7.6 billion Exxon made just last quarter.

Even oil company shareholders were critical. Hub fund manager Lee Forker, the head of New England Research & Management, said the profits reflected a failure of oil companies' leadership to invest in future production. ``They're maximizing present cashflows and ignoring the future,'' he said.

ExxonMobil is spending about $5 billion a quarter buying back its own shares.

Crude oil prices fell yesterday by $1.61 to $65.85 a barrel. Lehman Brothers became the first Wall Street investment bank to issue a new profits forecast for Exxon following the week of post-Katrina turmoil, when gasoline prices surged as high as $3.59 a gallon in the northeast and crude oil prices briefly topped $70.

The reason? Prices are soaring because of perceived shortages while the cost of producing the gasoline is little changed.



CHINA: "HUNDREDS OF U.S. CITIES WILL BE DESTROYED"

July 16, 2005

From: The Guardian

A senior Chinese general has warned that his country could destroy hundreds of American cities with nuclear weapons if the two nations clashed over Taiwan.

Major general Zhu Chenghu stated, "War logic dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum efforts to defeat a stronger rival," he was reported as saying by the New York Times. "If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons."

Echoing threats last made in 1995, Mr Zhu, who has a reputation as a hawk in Chinese military circles, said his country was ready to sustain heavy casualties in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other heavily populated areas.

"We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian," he said. "Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese." His comments were the most inflammatory by a senior government official in 10 years. Zhu proposes that China should adopt a first-strike nuclear option against the US.

But Zhu is not the first Chinese official to have referred to the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the U.S. Xiong Guangkai, now the PLA's deputy chief of general staff, once threatened to use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles. (SEE BELOW:).

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CHINA'S OTHER THREATS


CHINA: WAR WITH U.S. "INEVITABLE"


Hong Kong's Cheng Ming newspaper quoted Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian as saying war with the United States is inevitable.

"Seen from the changes in the world situation and the United States' hegemonic strategy for creating monopolarity, war is inevitable," Mr. Chi told a military conference in early December 1999.

"We cannot avoid it," he was quoted. "The issue is that the Chinese armed forces must control the initiative in this war....We must be prepared to fight for one year, two years, three years or even longer."

Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai, in March 1996, warned that the continental U.S. was now vulnerable to a Chinese nuclear ballistic missile attack. "You are not going to threaten us again," Gen. Xiong told Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in the Office of China Affairs Charles Freeman, "because, in the end, you care a lot more about Los Angeles than Taipei," - a thinly-veiled reminder that China's intercontinental missle force could target the U.S.

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China can now hit any city in the USA, using state-of-the-art solid-fueled missiles with dead-accurate, computerized guidance systems and multiple warheads.

How did the Chinese catch up so fast? Easy. We sold them all the technology they needed or handed it over for free. Neither neglect nor carelessness is to blame. Clinton did it on purpose.       www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?noframes;read=52940

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CHINA RUNS PANAMA CANAL


Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd., a giant Hong Kong-based shipping firm is tied to China's leadership and the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Panama, in 1997, awarded Hutchinson a 25- to 50-year contract to run the two major ports on the canal's Atlantic and Pacific entrances.

U.S. naval ships will be at the mercy of Chinese-controlled pilots and could even be denied passage through the Panama Canal by Hutchinson, an arm of the People's Liberation Army.

The United States is the No. 1 user of the canal that carries 13,000 ships per year. The U.S. military is abandoning bases in Panama under a 1977 treaty, signed by President Carter, that gave canal ownership to Panama, effective Dec. 31, 1999.

[From: www.conservativeusa.org/panama-washtimes.htm ]

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Iraq - The Untold Stories



STATS on the Iraq War



'They can't train you for the reality of Iraq. You can't have a mass grave with dogs eating the people in it'


Two years after the war began, a growing number of US troops are refusing to return to Iraq


Suzanne Goldenberg in Fort Stewart, Georgia; Saturday March 19, 2005 - The Guardian


At the same time that Kevin Benderman's unit was called up for a second tour in Iraq with the Third Infantry Division, two soldiers tried to kill themselves and another had a relative shoot him in the leg. Seventeen went awol or ran off to Canada, and Sergeant Benderman, whose family has sent a son to every war since the American revolution, defied his genes and nine years of military training and followed his conscience.

As the division packed its gear to leave Fort Stewart, Sgt Benderman applied for a discharge as a conscientious objector - an act seen as a betrayal by many in a military unit considered the heart of the US army, the "Walking Pride of Uncle Sam".

Two years ago today, the columns of the Third ID roared up from the Kuwaiti desert for the push towards Baghdad. When the city fell, the Marines controlled the neighbourhoods on the east side of the Tigris and the Third ID had the west. It was, according to the army command, an occasion for pride.

Some of the men and women who were there remain unconvinced. Like Sgt Benderman, who served six months in Iraq at the start of the war, they were scarred by their experience, and angry at being called again to combat so soon.

They may not be part of any organised anti-war movement, but the conscientious objectors, runaways, and other irregular protesters suggest that, two years on, the war is taking a heavy toll. "They can't train you for the reality. You can't have a mass grave with dogs eating the people in it," Sgt Benderman told the Guardian. "It's not like practising for a football game, or cramming for a test in college. You can go out there and train, but until you actually experience war first hand you don't know what it's like."

A large man in his uniform, with blue eyes and a southern drawl, the 40-year-old is every inch the soldier. He has spent nearly 10 years in the army, signing up for a second stint in 2000 because he felt he had not done his duty to his country. The war did away with that feeling, with the sergeant horrified by Iraqi civilian deaths and the behaviour of the young men he commanded, who he said treated war like bumping off targets in a video game. [Students of WWII history will recall that the Gestapo & S.S. evolved into a "2nd generation" of torturers from 1942 onward, as younger recruits filled the ranks. Graduates of "Hitler Youth," they were thoroughly stripped of "quaint" religious & cultural qualms about inflicting pain and death with abandon. Now that our culture laughs at God, there's no "inner compass" for troops under pressure of tyrannical & ignorant leaders who put them in impossible situations. - HM]

Unthinkable

"I didn't turn into the pope overnight. I am still Kevin Benderman, but I am trying to find a better way of living," he said.

Once such dissent would have been unthinkable - as would the growing disquiet within the ranks of the US army as its forces rotate into Iraq on second and even third tours. Open resistance remains relatively rare. Only a handful of troops have filed conscientious objector applications; Vietnam, which was fought by conscripts, produced 190,000 such petitions.

But the conscripts only had one tour. Soldiers' advocates and peace activists believe the first signs of opposition within the military could slowly grow - as it did for Vietnam - turning disgruntled soldiers and their families into powerful anti-war advocates. A number of Iraq veterans have begun to speak out. The root causes for more widespread dissent are there. Longer and repeat deployments have worn down regulars and reservists. So has the rising toll, with more than 1,500 US soldiers dead and 11,000 wounded. Recruitment and re-enlistment rates are down - especially for African-Americans, a 40% drop in the past five years - increasing the strain on the Pentagon.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 military personnel are in Iraq despite serious medical conditions that should have ruled them out of combat, according to the National Gulf War Resource Centre. The GI Rights Hotline, which counsels troops, says it fielded 32,000 calls last year from soldiers seeking an exit from the military, or suffering from post-combat stress.

Others vote with their feet. Last year the Pentagon admitted that 5,500 of its forces had gone awol, although it claims many returned to their units after resolving personal crises. Some abandoned the country altogether - like Chris Cornell, a Third ID private. At 24, he had been in the military for two years, joining up in search of a better life than in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. Army life had begun to pall - "because of the crap that goes on" - when the division began to prepare for Iraq. He didn't want to go. "I didn't sign up to kill people. I couldn't live with myself," he told the Guardian. At first, he tried to get a medical discharge, deliberately failing dozens of physical training tests.

Then, weeks before his unit's January 10 departure, his sergeant called the troops in for a talk. "He got up there in front of the whole battery and he told us we were going to Iraq, whether we liked it or not."

Pte Cornell went home on leave and consulted the activists he calls his adopted family. They suggested Canada - terra incognita for a southerner like Pte Cornell - and he landed in Toronto, jobless, sleeping in someone else's flat, and seeking political asylum. He was the seventh US soldier to apply for refugee status in Canada, and a half dozen more with Canadian parents or spouses are claiming citizenship, according to Jeffrey House, a Toronto lawyer handling many of the claims. But there could be hundreds more who have gone to ground. "I believe there a number of people here illegally," he says. "No one would suspect them by their accent, and so they just disappear."

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Among those who serve, resentment is high, fuelled by "stop loss" orders by which the Pentagon hangs on to troops past their release date, and shortages of armoured vehicles and other protective gear. Emails and blogs from Iraq regularly rail against their officers and the war.

The high command does not want to hear them, soldiers' advocates say, because it does not want to encourage dissent. When Sgt Benderman tried to file his papers as a conscientious objector in December, his commanding officer called him a coward. Last month he was ordered to face a court martial for desertion. He could face seven years in prison.

Now, away from his unit in the war zone, Sgt Benderman waits for the army to hear his case. Each morning he leaves his home in Hinesville, Georgia, to report for 6.30am drill. Others in his situation have gone underground, but Sgt Benderman views that option with distaste. So does his wife, Monica, who says: "If you really believe in what you are doing, then why run?"

Carl Webb, 39, a member of the Texas National Guard, claims he didn't have a choice. His protest is just as public as Sgt Benderman's - and even less conventional. He has been awol since last August but the military should not have any problems finding him. Mr Webb has posted his email address, phone number, and several photos of himself on a website setting out his opposition to the war

For years, the military had been his one constant in an otherwise anchorless life, and Mr Webb did stints in the regular army as well as various guard units. But by last July, when he was a month away from getting out, he got the call that he was being plucked from his unit to serve with a tank company near Baghdad.

"It was a total surprise. Even my command said this is some kind of a mistake, and I could file a hardship case," he told the Guardian. Mr Webb thought about filing a conscientious objector application, but decided he didn't fit the strict criteria. Now he is daring the Pentagon to try to get him because he figures that would encourage other opponents of the war.

"Most soldiers obey their orders because they are afraid of what could happen to them. They think, 'Oh, they are going to throw me in a dungeon, and put shackles on me, and I'll never see the light of day,' or they fear the isolation," he said.

"But just by being out there, I am going to give them ideas. I'm an example."
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Iraq in figures: the toll of the conflict so far


1,512 US troops killed in Iraq

1,157 US troops killed in combat

355 US non-combat deaths

11,285 US troops wounded

86 UK troops killed in Iraq

35 UK troops killed in combat

91 troops from other states killed

17,053-19,422 estimated number of civilian casualties since the war started, according to Iraq Body Count

257 number of non-Iraqi civilians killed (30 of whom were British)

189 number of foreign nationals kidnapped since October 2003

47 number still captive

170,000 number of coalition troops in March 2003

175,000 number of coalition troops in Iraq in March 2005

45,000 number of British troops in March 2003

8,930 number of UK troops in Iraq in March 2005

30 number of countries identified as members of the coalition backing the war in March 2003

38 number of countries which have provided troops in Iraq at some point

24 number of states currently providing troops in Iraq

5 number of countries currently planning to withdraw troops from Iraq

18,000 latest estimate of strength of insurgency

1,000 estimated number of foreign fighters involved in the insurgency

IRAQ VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR

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