Josh Key was speaking before Canada's refugee board hearing his asylum plea. Among the incidents, he described soldiers kicking the severed head of an Iraqi like a football in Ramadi. Mr Key served as an explosives expert in Iraq for eight months, and deserted to Canada with his family in 2004. He faces a court martial back in the US. The soldier, 27, also told Canada's refugee board he saw a US army squad leader shooting the foot off an unarmed Iraqi man.
Soldiers claiming refugee status in Canada
When Private First Class Joshua Key was shipped to Iraq, the US army combat engineer believed he was doing the right thing. "I left for Iraq with a purpose, thinking this was another Hitler deal," he said in a recent interview. "But there were no weapons of mass destruction. They had no military whatsoever. And I started to wonder." He served eight months in Iraq before going AWOL. Key arrived in Toronto in March of 2005, with his wife Brandi and their four young children. Asked what led him to desert, he says: "The atrocities that were happening to the innocent people of Iraq. I didn't want to be part of it no more. I came home and I deserted."
Interview with Joshua ( a huge 26mb download but they do stream it too)
It was about two months ago that 47 army recruiters themselves went awol because they couldn't meet the quota.
A colonel had come to my company and was doing a presentation you might say. You are not authorized to ask him questions. One of the guys from my platoon asked him “Why is is that we still have Vietnam style flak vests ?” - until this day we were still wearing them. He didn't answer. The next my friend got called to his commanders tent and he got half his pay taken for 6 months. And that is when I realized I can't say anything I can't say anything because how would my family make it ?
In the raids, let's go through one, we would go up and put C4 on the door, you blow the door in, you run in with a 5 to 6 man team and you take all the males that look of the age 16 and over, you throw them outside and they get taken off for interrogations...We always had military intelligence, CIA intelligence, satellite photographs of this house,they would always say somethings in there, from terrorists to a cache of weapons. I did over a hundred and I never found any terrorists and I never found any weapons. All I found was traumatized families, and their husbands and their children still got sent off for interrogation, whether nothing was found or not.
We didn't learn none of their language, that's another topic, we didn't know what they were saying...how can they know what you are saying ? A traffic control point in Falluja was the first time I saw the language barrier kill somebody...basically you stop every vehicle, you want to see if they got contraband inside, weapons inside, something of that such. Well, the military operating procedure was that if the vehicle did not stop when you told it to stop then you 'light it up', which basically means you destroy the vehicle. At that time we had no signs saying stop, we had no translators there saying stop, the only thing we knew to do was to raise our hands and wave and say 'stop', and that happened and a man and a child came through, they completely lit up the vehicle...the father was dead and his child was in pieces, we bandaged him up as fast as we could and we took him to the closest hospital, we wasn't even supposed to do that but we did...we came back and searched the vehicle, there was nothing in it and that point we all realized those
people had died because they never knew what 'stop' meant.
At first you try to tell yourself you are there for a reason, you are there for a purpose, and I would say that ended very quickly and then I was just completely disturbed. And I think most of us were. It is very disturbing to know that you have been sent to fight a war for the greed of your president.
I got sent back home for two weeks leave...I called the military lawyers, the JAG office, I just told them that I was already having nightmares, is there any way you could get me a job back home, is there anything we can do ? They called me the next day, they said you have two options, you either go to prison or you get on the plane.