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AWOL in America: When desertion is the only option
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George Harrison
2005-05-20 03:38:59 UTC
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AWOL in America:
When desertion is the only option

An AWOL Navy man was arrested ... as he brought his pregnant wife to the
hospital.... Roberto Carlos Navarro, 20, of Polk City [Florida] was
charged as a deserter from the U.S. Navy.... Navarro became disenchanted
with the constant painting and scraping of ships after two years in the
Navy.
— The Ledger, April 2, 2004

A 17-year-old was turned over to the Department of Defense last week
after Bellingham police discovered the teenager, involved in a traffic
accident, was allegedly a deserter from Army basic training.
— The Boston Globe, August 12, 2004

I am seriously considering becoming a deserter. I am sorry if there are
other military moms ... that look poorly on me for thinking this way but
... I WILL NOT LEAVE MY LITTLE BABY.
— Online post to BabyCenter.com, November 21, 2004

Kathy Dobie
Harper's Magazine
February 23, 2005
(March 1, 2005 edition)

AWOL, French Leave, the Grand Bounce, jumping ship, going over the
hill—in every country, in every age, whenever and wherever there has
been a military, there have been soldiers discharging themselves from
the ranks. The Pentagon has estimated that since the start of the
current conflict in Iraq, more than 5,500 U.S. military personnel have
deserted, and yet we know the stories of only a unique handful, all whom
have publicly stated their opposition to the war in Iraq, and some of
whom have fled to Canada. The Vietnam war casts a long shadow,
distorting our image of the deserter; four soldiers have gone over the
Canadian border, looking for the safe haven of the Vietnam years, which
no longer exists: there are no open arms for such refugees and almost no
possibility of obtaining legal status. We imagine 5,500 conscientious
objectors to a bloody quagmire, soldiers like Staff Sergeant Camilo
Mejia, who strongly and eloquently protested the Iraq war, having
actually served there and witnessed civilians killed and prisoners
abused, and who was subsequently court-martialed, found guilty of
desertion, and given a year in prison. But deserters rarely leave for
purely political reasons. They usually just quietly return home and hope
no one notices.

Last summer, I read a news account of a twenty-one-year-old man caught
by the police climbing through the window of a house. It turned out to
be his house, but the cops found out he was AWOL from the Army and
arrested him. That story, in all its recognizable, bungling humanity,
intrigued me. It brought the truth of governments waging war home to me
in a way that stories of combat had not—in particular, how the ambitions
and desires of powerful men and women are borne by ordinary people:
restless scrapers and tomboys from West Virginia, teenage immigrants
from Mexico, and juvenile delinquents from Indiana; randy boys and
girls, and callous ones; the stoic, the idealist, the aimless, the
boastful and the bewildered; the highly adventurous and the deeply
conformist. They carry the weight.

After reading the story of the AWOL soldier sneaking into his own house,
I contacted the G.I. Rights hot line, a national referral and counseling
service for military personnel, and on August 23, 2004, I interviewed
Robert Dove, a burly, bearded Quaker, in the Boston offices of the
American Friends Service Committee, one of the groups involved with the
hot line. Dove told me of getting frantic calls from the parents of
recruits, and of recruits who are so appalled by basic training that
they "can't eat, they literally vomit every time they put a spoon to
their mouths, they're having nightmares and wetting their beds." Down in
Chatham County, North Carolina, Steve and Lenore Woolford answer calls
from the hot line in their home. Steve was most haunted by the soldiers
who want out badly but who he can tell are not smart or self-assured
enough to accomplish it; the ones who ask the same questions over and
over again and want to know exactly what to say to their commanding
officer. The G.I. Rights hot line introduced me to deserters willing to
talk, and those soldiers put me in contact with others.

I met my first deserters in early September and over the next four
months followed some of them through the process of turning themselves
in and getting released from the military. They came from Indiana,
Oregon, Washington, California, Georgia, Connecticut, New York, and
Massachusetts. I met with the mother and sister of a Marine who was UA
(Unauthorized Absence, the Navy and Marine term for AWOL) in the
mother's home in Alto, Georgia, and at the Quantico base in Virginia one
Sunday afternoon I met with eight deserters returned to military
custody, members of the Casualty Platoon, as the Marines refer to them,
since they are "lost combatants." One of the AWOL soldiers, Jeremiah
Adler, offered to show me the letters he had written home from boot
camp; a Marine called with weekly reports from Quantico where he awaited
his court-martial or administrative release. Through these soldiers, and
the counselors at the G.I. Rights hot line, I discovered that the
recruiting process and the training were keys to understanding why
soldiers desert, as is an overextended Army's increasingly strong grip
on them.

Since the mid-1990s, the Army has been quietly struggling with a
manpower crisis, as the number of desertions steadily climbed from 1,509
in 1995 to 4,739 in 2001. During this time, deserters rarely faced
court-martial or punishment. The vast majority—94 percent of the 12,000
soldiers who deserted between I997 and 2001—were simply released from
the Army with other-than-honorable discharges. Then, in the fall of
2001, shortly after 9/11, the U.S. Army issued a new policy regarding
deserters, hoping to staunch the flow. Under the new rules, which were
given little media attention, deserters were to be returned to their
original military units to be evaluated and, when possible, integrated
back into the ranks. It was not a policy that made the hearts of Army
officers sing. As one company commander told DefenseWatch, an online
newsletter for the grass-roots organization Soldiers For The Truth, "I
can't afford to baby-sit problem children every day."

According to DefenseWatch, in the first few months after the policy went
into effect, 190 deserters were returned to military control, 89 of
those were returned to the ranks, and 101 were discharged. Statistics at
the end of the military fiscal year showed the desertion numbers
dropping slightly, due, at least in part, to the new policy, which
reintegrated almost half the runaways back into their units. It wasn't
that fewer people were leaving the military, just that fewer people were
able to stay gone.

Then we invaded Iraq, and as the war there rages on, the military has
had to evacuate an estimated 50,000 troops: the dead and the wounded,
combat- and non-combat-related casualties. Those soldiers must be
replaced—and we're committed to sending in even more. The pressure to
hold on to as many troops as possible has only increased, as is
painfully evident in internal memos such as this one from Major General
Claude A. Williams of the Army National Guard, dated May 2004:
"Effective immediately, I am holding commanders at all levels
accountable for controlling manageable losses." The memo goes on to say
that commanders must retain at least 85 percent of soldiers who are
scheduled to end their active duty, 90 percent of soldiers scheduled to
ship for Initial Entry Training, and "execute the AWOL recovery
procedures for every AWOL soldier." The military has issued stop-loss
orders, dug deep into the ranks of reservists and guardsmen, extended
tours of duty, and made it harder for recruits and active-duty personnel
to get out through administrative means. According to the military's own
research, this will result in more people going AWOL.

In the summer of 2002, the U.S. Army Research Institute for the
Behavioral and Social Sciences released a study titled "What We Know
About AWOL and Desertion." "Although the problem of AWOL/desertion is
fairly constant, it tends to increase in magnitude during wartime—when
the Army tends to increase its demands for troops and to lower its
enlistment standards to meet that need. It can also increase during
times, such as now, when the Army is attempting to restrict the ways
that soldiers can exit service through administrative channels." In
other words, close the door, and they will leave by the window.

At the G.I. Rights hot line, the desperation is obvious; the number of
people calling in for help has almost doubled from 17,000 in 200I to
33,000 in the last year. The majority of the calls are from people who
want out of the military—soldiers with untreated injuries or urgent
family problems, combat veterans who have developed a deep revulsion to
war, National Guardsmen primed to deal with hurricanes, blizzards, and
floods but not fighting overseas, and inactive reservists who have
already served, started families and careers, and never expected to be
called up again. And there are recruits—many, many recruits—who have
decided, in a sentiment heard hundreds of times by the people manning
the phones, "The Army's just not for me." Some of these callers were
thinking about going AWOL; others had already left and wanted to know
what could happen to them and what they should do next.

Soldiers who go AWOL have either panicked and see no other way out of
their difficulties or are well-informed and know that deserting is
sometimes the quickest, surest route out of the military. A soldier may
not be eligible for a hardship or medical discharge, for instance, but
he knows he wants out. He may not even be aware of the discharges
available to him. Young, raw recruits, in particular, know only what
their drill sergeants tell them. Counselors at the G.I. Rights hot line
describe cases in which a recruit will ask about applying for a
discharge and be told flatly by his drill sergeant, "Forget about it.
Don't even think of applying. You're not getting out."
Conscientious-objector applications have more than tripled since
operations began in Iraq, but they take on average a year and a half to
process, and then, quite often, are denied.

In the Army study, which examined data from World War II, Korea,
Vietnam, and the years 1997-2001, it was found that deserters are more
likely to be younger when they enlist, less educated, to come from
"broken homes," and to have "engaged in delinquent behavior" prior to
enlisting. In other words, they are both vulnerable and rebellious.
During the Vietnam war, enlisted men were far more likely to desert than
those who were drafted. Perhaps they had higher expectations of Army
life, or perhaps a man who volunteers for service feels like he has some
sense of control over his fate, a feeling a draftee could hardly share.
Only 12 percent of the Vietnam-era deserters left specifically because
of the war, according to the same study. Then, as now, most soldiers
take off because of family problems, financial difficulties, and what
the Army obliquely calls "failure to adapt" to military life and "issues
with chain of command." Almost all of the deserters I spoke to described
the kind of person they thought succeeded in the military as "an alpha
male type who can take orders real well," as one Marine put it. "If you
can't do both? Don't join." Physical aggression and mental docility
might seem an unlikely pairing, but as the military historian Gwynne
Dyer wrote in his book titled, simply, War, "Basic training has been
essentially the same in every army in every age, because it works with
the same raw material that's always there in teenage boys: a fair amount
of aggression, a strong tendency to hang around in groups, and an
absolute desperate desire to fit in."

It's hard for me to be myself here. There's no room for dissent
among the guys. Everywhere you listen you hear an abundant amount of
B.S., a few beds over an obnoxious redneck has a crowd around him as he
details a 3 some that he recently had. The vocabulary is much different
here. The bathroom is called the latrine, food is called chow, women are
hitches, sex is ass. . . . These people want to go to war and kill. It
is that simple.
— From a letter home, Jeremiah Adler

Jeremiah Adler arrives at my door in Brooklyn in late September, four
days after he escaped Fort Benning, Georgia, with another Army recruit.
At ten at night, while a friend on guard duty looked the other way, the
boys took off out of the barracks, making a thirty-yard dash into the
surrounding forest. They had no clue as to where they were. After an
hour they heard sirens blasting, and then the baying of dogs. They spent
five hours in the woods, following a bright patch in the sky that they
rightly assumed to be the city of Columbus. When they finally reached
the road, they saw cop cars zipping past them, lights flashing in the
dark. It was terribly exciting, though the morning he arrives at my
house he seems spent. Jeremiah and I had spoken for the first time the
day before. He was hiding out at a friend's house in Atlanta, ready to
hop the next plane home to Portland, Oregon, but he agreed to meet with
me in New York first.

Jeremiah is slight, and his blue-green eyes seem unusually large, though
that could be the effect of his shorn head. He has full lips and a
fine-boned face that could easily become gaunt. He's eighteen, a deeply
earnest eighteen, with a dry sense of humor. He has an odd habit for
someone so young of sighing often, and wearily. He's also very hungry.
We order a cheese pizza because he does not eat meat.

When Jeremiah announced his intention to join the military he took
everyone who knew him in Portland by surprise. "He was raised in a
pacifist, macrobiotic house," his mother exclaims. "He went to Waldorf
schools. Here is a kid who's never even had a bite of animal flesh in
his life!" Jeremiah had protested the Iraq war, in fact. He spent most
of his senior year in high school convincing his family and what he and
his mother call his " community"—a tightly knit group of families
connected by the Portland Waldorf School and Rudolf Steiner's
nontraditional philosophy of education—that joining the military was the
right thing for him to do.

In the spring of his senior year, Jeremiah went on a "vision quest,"
hiking into an area called Eagle Creek, which was still covered in snow.
There he made a video explaining his reasons for joining the Army. He
sits on the ground facing the camera but looking off into the woods as
he talks. He starts by making a case for the military being a tool for
change, a possible force for good. But, "if you have a bunch of
bloodthirsty young men with an I.Q. of twenty-three in the military,
that's what the military's gonna be—until other people, other
intelligent people with morals and values and convictions and ideals
[join up]. Most people hate the military. Is the answer to distance
yourself as far as you can and just protest all the time? What am I
doing? I don't know anyone in the military. Neither do any of you. It
takes a lot more balls for me to join the military than it does for one
of you guys to go to a forty-grand liberal-arts school. Is that a huge
step? You're gonna be around more open-minded people like yourself.
You're not gonna experience any diversity there."

In this taped explanation he leaves out one reason for joining the Army,
a reason that perhaps was too amorphous to put into words, or too
personal, not something he felt the folks at Waldorf would understand.
"My mom was single until I was eight years old," he tells me. "My entire
life I was raised sensitive and compassionate. I have a craving for a
sense of machoness, honestly. A sense of toughness." He remembers the
first time he thought the military was "cool"—watching Top Gun at ten
years old. Then in his senior year of high school, the recruiting
commercials became a siren call. "I mean, it's an ingenious marketing
campaign. It goes straight to an eighteen-year-old male's testosterone.
You see them and you're almost sexually aroused," he says. He wanted to
kick past the cocoon of family and community, to know how other people
thought and lived. He wanted a coming-of-age ritual—his vision quest,
which had ended with the insight " solitude sucks," didn't quite fill
the bill. He wanted to become a man. Jeremiah took a year convincing his
friends, family, and community, and yet within seventy-two hours of
arriving at Fort Benning he was writing a letter home that began, "Hello
All, You have got to get me out of here."

The recruits arrived at Reception Battalion at Fort Benning on September
16 close to midnight, completely disoriented. During the next seven days
they were introduced to military life: First, their heads were shaved, a
ritual that signifies the loss of one's individual identity, and was
historically used to control lice and identify deserters. Then the
recruits were issued boots, gear, and military I.D. They were taught how
to march and stand at attention, made to recite the Soldier's Creed
again and again, yelled at, incited, insulted, and then shipped to basic
training; that is, put on a bus and sent to a training barracks at
another location in Fort Benning.

The first day of Reception, the recruits should have been so busy and
harassed that they wouldn't have had time for second thoughts or
regrets, but Hurricane Ivan was sweeping through Georgia, and they were
confined to their barracks—104 young men, all keyed up, all on edge,
about to embark on some mysterious journey, some awesome transformation
that involved uniforms, mud, and guns. There was a constant jockeying
for power, fights narrowly averted, a lot of enthusiasm for battle, for
killing, or at least the pretense of enthusiasm. When Jeremiah suggested
it might be better to wound someone than to kill him, he was quickly put
in his place. "Fuck that. I'm putting two in the chest, one in the head
just like I'm going to be trained to do."

The men in the barracks were whiter, poorer, and less educated than
Jeremiah had expected. Guys who could barely read were astonished that
Jeremiah had enlisted even though he'd been accepted at the University
of Oregon. Skin-heads, exskinheads perhaps (since active participation
by soldiers in extremist groups is prohibited), showed off their
tattoos—one had been told by his recruiter to say that his swastika
tattoo was a "force directional signal." There were guys who had done
jail time, though Jeremiah quickly adds, "Not that they're bad people by
any means, but it kind of shows you the type of person they're recruiting."

The next day, a sergeant addressed the recruits with a speech that
Jeremiah says he'll never forget. "You know, when I joined the Army nine
years ago people would always ask me why I joined. Did I do it for
college money? Did I do it for women? People never understood. I wanted
to join the Army because I wanted to go shoot motherfuckers." The room
erupted in hoots and hollers. A drill sergeant said something about an
Iraqi coming up to them screaming, "Ah-la-la-la-la!" in a high-pitched
voice, and how he would have to be killed. After that, all Arabs were
referred to by this battle cry—the ah-la-la-la-las. In the barracks,
they played war. One recruit would come out of the shower wearing a
towel on his head, screaming, "Ah-la-la-la-la!" and the other recruits
would pretend to shoot him dead. Jeremiah thought, " Oh my God, what am
I doing here?"

That evening he wrote his first letter home, beginning with the word "Wow."

"I'm horrified by some of the things that they talk about. If you were
in the civilian world and openly talked about killing people you would
be an outcast, but here people openly talk about it, like it's going to
be fun." In his second letter, written while he was doing guard duty, he
tells his parents how sad the barracks are at night. "You can hear
people trying to make sure no one hears them cry under their covers."

On his third day, Jeremiah went to one of the drill sergeants and told
him, " I'm sorry, the military's not for me. For whatever reason, I'm
not willing to kill. I had the idealistic view that it was more than
that, and I realize, since coming here, that it's not." The sergeant
stared at him. "Do you know what would happen if you came in here and
talked to me fifty, a hundred years ago?"

"Yeah, but we're not living back then," Jeremiah replied. The sergeant
said that was a shame, because if he had a 9-millimeter pistol, he'd
shoot Jeremiah right then and there. The sergeant dared Jeremiah to
refuse to ship, saying he would be sent to jail, that he, personally,
would make an example of him.

So Jeremiah cooked up a plan with another unhappy recruit to pretend
they were gay. That plan went about as badly as it could have—five drill
sergeants questioned them, called them disgusting perverts, but refused
to discharge either Jeremiah or his friend. Jeremiah was now stuck in
one of the most macho and homophobic environments as a gay man, or, more
bewilderingly, as a fake gay man. He had tried to get help from the
military chaplain, who cited Bible passages proving that God was against
murder, not killing, and told Jeremiah that Iraqis were running up to
American troops requesting Bibles.

In his last letter home, written on his sixth day, Jeremiah's
handwriting disintegrates; "HELP ME" is scrawled across one page. He was
due to ship to basic training in the morning. He had decided to refuse.
"I've heard that they try to intimidate you, ganging up on you,
threatening you. I heard that they will throw your bags on the bus, and
almost force you on. See what I am up against? I have nothing on my
side.... I am so fucked up right now. ... I feel that if I stay here
much longer I am not going to be the same person anymore. I have to GO.
Please help.... Every minute you sit at home I am stuck in a shithole,
stripped of self-respect, pride, will, hope, love, faith, worth,
everything. Everything I have ever held dear has been taken away. This
fucks with your head. . . . This makes you believe you ARE worthless
shit. Please help. By the time you get this, things will be worse."

After getting some information from his mother on a secretive call home,
Jeremiah wrote a letter requesting Entry Level Separation from the Army,
citing his aversion to killing. Entry Level Separation, which exists for
the convenience of the Army, allows for the discharge of soldiers who
are obviously not cut out for military service. The Army has to provide
an exit route for inept, unhealthy, depressed, even suicidal soldiers,
but at the same time it doesn't want to open what might turn out to be
floodgates, so soldiers cannot themselves apply for ELS, and rarely even
know about its existence. The Reception Battalion commander told
Jeremiah that if he refused to ship, he would do everything in his power
to court-martial him. Then the drill sergeants had their turn. One in
particular was apoplectic. " He started screaming at me about how
killing is the ultimate thrill in life and every single man wants to
kill. Regardless of what you think you believe, it's every man's job to
kill, it's the greatest high, it's our animal instinct, our animal desire."

When he refused to ship (he locked his duffel bag to his bed so it
couldn't be thrown on the bus), Jeremiah was sent to Excess Barracks.
About twenty other recruits were there, each of them trying to get out.
It was at Excess Barracks that Jeremiah first got the idea to go AWOL,
because there were people there who had done it already. On his ninth
day at Fort Benning, he and another recruit, Ryan Gibson, decided to
leave. They got all suited up—"a Rambo-like moment" is how Jeremiah
describes it. "I'm not gonna lie, we were really excited," he says. "We
were finally going to be able to go out into the woods and do something.
Even if the only commando stuff we ever did in our entire Army career
was escaping from the Army, we were still excited about it."

When Ryan arrived home in Indiana, his mother threatened to report him
to the police unless he returned to Fort Benning. So Ryan did return,
but he left again two days later, this time taking two other recruits
with him. When Jeremiah arrived home in Portland, he told his mother,
"Well, Mom, I guess I'm going to have to find a different way to become
a man besides learning to kill."

Jeremiah is hardly the only recruit to arrive at basic training or boot
camp and realize, for the first time, that he is there to learn how to
kill. And that he can't or won't do it. Many civilians wonder how that
can be: They're joining the Army, for God's sake, they've enlisted in
the Marines, what did they expect? It is too simple an answer just to
say that the recruiters don't mention killing, though they don't, and
that they sell the military as a career or educational opportunity to
high schoolers, which they do. You have to understand that after all the
soft, inspiring talk of educational opportunities, financial bonuses,
job skills, cool gear, and easy sex from uniform-loving girls and German
prostitutes, recruits arrive at boot camp and are assaulted by a
completely different reality. Basic training is a shock, and
purposefully so. In a matter of weeks the military must take teenagers
from what Gwynne Dyer calls "the most extravagantly individualistic
civilian society" and turn them into soldiers; that is, selfless,
obedient fighters with an intense loyalty to each other, for ultimately
that is why they will risk death, not for their country or some
high-flown ideal but for their comrades. "We" must replace " I." Most
importantly, the military must turn them into killers, for that is how
you win battles, and how you survive them.

Despite our entertainment industry telling us otherwise, it is not easy
to kill. In his ground-breaking and highly influential study of World
War II firing rates, S.L.A. Marshall, a World War I combatant and chief
historian for the European Theater of Operations during World War II,
interviewed soldiers fresh from battle and found that only 15 to 20
percent of the combat infantry were willing to fire their weapons, and
that was true even when their life or the lives of their comrades were
threatened. When Medical Corp psychiatrists studied combat fatigue cases
in the European Theater, they found that "fear of killing, rather than
fear of being killed, was the most common cause of battle failure in the
individual," Marshall reported. Marshall's methodology is now in
question, but his findings have been replicated in studies of Civil War
and World War I battles, even in recreations of Napoleonic wars. And the
effect of his findings on the military has been profound. As Lieutenant
Colonel Dave Grossman notes in his book On Killing: The Psychological
Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, "A firing rate of 15 to 20
percent among soldiers is like having a literacy rate of 15 to 20
percent among proofreaders. Once those in authority realized the
existence and magnitude of the problem, it was only a matter of time
until they solved it."

By the Korean War, the firing rate had gone up to 55 percent; in the
Vietnam war, it was around 90 to 95 percent. How did the military
achieve this? As Grossman writes, "Since World War II, a new era has
quietly dawned in modern warfare: an era of psychological
warfare—psychological warfare conducted not upon the enemy, but upon
one's own troops. ... The triad of methods used to achieve this
remarkable increase in killing are desensitization, conditioning, and
denial defense mechanisms."

Training techniques became more realistic and varied. Soldiers no longer
stood and fired at a nonmoving target. They were fully suited up, down
in foxholes, and shooting at moving targets, targets that resembled
other humans. Simultaneously, the "enemy," whether North Korean, North
Vietnamese, Russian, or Arab, was purposefully dehumanized. Killing
people was described graphically, and with relish. As Dyer notes, most
recruits realize the bloodthirsty talk of drill sergeants is hyperbole,
but it still serves to desensitize them to the suffering of an "enemy."

So the answer to the question "How could they not know that they were
there to learn how to kill?" is another question: "How could they even
begin to comprehend what that meant?" Before they've even seen combat,
these young men and women, most of them teenagers, will be pushed to
break through a psychological, cultural, and moral resistance to
killing, an experience that is hard to imagine. A twenty-three-year-old
deserter from Washington State, whom I'll call Clay, since he's still
AWOL, says, "'Stressful' is not the word. It's an understatement. It
tears at your mind." Clay, who went AWOL in November, was excruciatingly
aware of the effect of his training: "After they broke me down, I was
having a lot of conflicts with what they were trying to build me back up
into. I mean, good Lord, these people told me, if need be, I might have
to kill children."

Clay joined the Army to get away from what he calls "a militant AA
group" and a troubled relationship with a girlfriend. He was working off
the books for a small fencing company, and the Army recruiter was
"throwing all this money at me." In five weeks he wrapped up his messy
life—gave notice on his apartment, quit his girlfriend and his AA group,
lost sixty pounds, took and passed his GED—and swore in to the U.S. Army.

By the sixth week of training, Clay realized not only that he could kill
but that he wanted to. "Spiritually and mentally, man, I was off. I
wanted to kill something. Mainly the drill sergeants, hut it was had. I
was very angry. I started to see the process within myself, that
transition from civilian to mindless killer. It just didn't sit right
with me. And it scared me." Clay decided to leave. A high-ranking but
highly embittered NCO actually smuggled him off base.

That soldiers flee out of fear of combat is another myth; not that some
don't, but they are, strangely enough, a minority. Of the deserters I
talked to, only Clay mentioned his fear of death. After his drill
sergeant showed his platoon photos of an American lieutenant blown to
bits, splattered all over the side of a Humvee, "no piece of him bigger
than a cigarette pack," Clay suddenly thought about being around to
raise a family. "And I started thinking about the possibility that I
might not come back." He's gone AWOL twice now. He left from basic
training, returned home, and twenty-six days later turned himself in at
Fort Lewis, Washington, where he met Jeremiah, who gave him my phone
number. From there he was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. At Fort Sill he
was told that he would be shipped back to Fort Benning, so he took off
again. He had turned himself in too soon.

After thirty days of being AWOL, a soldier is dropped from the rolls and
classified as a deserter—administratively, not legally, for that takes a
court-martial. At that point, a federal warrant is issued for his
arrest. The Army doesn't have the manpower to chase and apprehend
deserters, so unless they get picked up for some other offense—stopped
by the local cops for running a red light, for instance—they can often
live life unhindered (but not necessarily unhaunted) for weeks, months,
even years. Recently in New York City, a forty-three-year-old Marine
deserter got into an argument with a deli owner about the difference
between smoked and honey-basted turkey. The deli owner called the Marine
a "nigger." The Marine told him to step outside. They were slugging it
out on the sidewalk when the cops pulled up. They ran the Marine's
driver's license, found the federal warrant for his arrest, and called
the Marines, who came and got him and drove him down to Quantico, where
he now awaits processing. He'd been AWOL for twenty-four years.

Once a deserter is apprehended or turns himself in, he can be returned
to his unit, or court-martialed and given jail time, or given
nonjudicial punishment and an other-than-honorable discharge. As a rule
of thumb, the less time and money the military has invested in someone,
the less interested it is in keeping that person. If you're going to
leave, then, leave sooner rather than later, and when you leave, stay
gone long enough to be dropped from the rolls. If you turn yourself in
before being dropped from the rolls, you'll be returned to your command.
And it's always better to turn yourself in than to be caught—you want to
show that your intention wasn't to stay gone forever. So you have to
prove that you are dead serious about leaving the military while
simultaneously proving that you weren't planning on leaving for good.

Matt Burke, a Navy veteran and Army deserter, whom I met in October,
left the military because of an injury, a recruiter's lie, and because
there was better pay—and working conditions—somewhere else. Matt is
pro-military, pro-Bush, though, he says, "Your readers won't want to
hear that, I'm sure." He describes his recent court-martial as the
Army's chance to ream him and his subsequent jail time as "interesting."
He has a bland, limited vocabulary for the good times in his life, and a
much grittier one for the bad—getting shafted, screwed, kicked in the
nuts. He tells his story as straight as he can, without much emotion and
no self-pity. He doesn't want his real name used because only his
immediate family knows about his going AWOL, and his parents thought he
was "as dumb as shit" to desert the Army.

Blond, trim, seemingly buttoned-down but with a gleam in his eye, Matt
is the youngest son of a large Irish-Catholic family. He says frankly
that he had a "bad upbringing," and by that he means he was raised to
care about job security above all else. He joined the Navy straight out
of high school, at seventeen. He wasn't a good student; there was little
chance of his getting into a decent college and no chance of a
scholarship. He had family members in the military; it wasn't an
unfamiliar option for him. He did his four years of active duty and
loved it. When he returned to his New England hometown, he attended
college, where he studied business. After two years as an accountant in
the civilian world, he began to miss the military. So he decided to sign
up for the Army's Officer's Candidate School.

Matt had one worry. He knew that after three months of basic training
and then another three at OCS, the chances of getting injured were high.
He asked the recruiter what would happen if he got hurt and couldn't
make it through OCS. He was determined to serve in the Army only as an
officer; he had already done his time, and he now had a college
education, a good-paying job. The recruiter told him that because of his
prior service, he wouldn't have to serve the remainder of his three-year
contract; he would be discharged. Later, Matt would kick himself for not
getting it in writing. "So that's the thing that got me screwed,
trusting him," Matt says. He thought the recruiter wouldn't lie to him:
he wasn't some green high school kid. "I thought me being in prior
service, he'd recognize that, and he knows that I know he's a
salesperson basically. But he still ended up giving me the shaft."

At the G.I. Rights hot line they've heard hundreds of stories involving
recruiters' lies. Jeremiah was told he could attend college after he
finished basic training, and that he wouldn't be deployed until he
graduated. One of the most common lies told by recruiters is that it's
easy to get out of the military if you change your mind. But once they
arrive at training, the recruits are told there's no exit, period—and if
you try to leave, you'll be court-martialed and serve ten years in the
brig, you'll never be able to get a good job or a bank loan, and this
will follow you around like a felony conviction. This misinformation may
keep some scared and unhappy soldiers from leaving—some may even turn
out to be suffering from no more than a severe bout of homesickness—but
it pushes others to the point of desperation. They purposefully injure
themselves or become clinically depressed; they try to kill themselves
or set out to fail the drug test; or they lie, saying they're gay,
suicidal, asthmatic, or murderous. And, of course, they go AWOL.

None of this behavior, the lies or the pressure tactics, is particularly
surprising. Recruiters are under tremendous pressure to meet year-end
recruiting goals, which are essentially set by Congress. (Congress
mandates the actual number of soldiers required to be on active duty at
the end of the recruiting year.) Failure to meet their "mission" can
affect job promotion, pay, even the ability to stay in the Army until
retirement. When the fiscal year ends in September, if Recruiting
command hasn't met its quota, it shifts the ship dates of soldiers in
the Delayed Entry Program (DEP)—soldiers due to ship to training in
October and November often are rescheduled to ship in the last week of
September. Recruiting command can then report favorably to Congress, but
the recruiters have to scramble even harder to make up for those lost
numbers in the coming year.

What is puzzling is the fact that so many people believe the recruiters,
believe even the most outrageous lies. High schoolers and their parents.
Diane Stanley, the mother of a UA Marine named Jarred whom I met with in
her trailer home in Alto, Georgia, told me that the recruiter promised
her and her son that he wouldn't be sent overseas. He would, in fact, be
stationed close to home in Kentucky. We were at war in Iraq, and still
they believed this. The recruiter was sitting at their kitchen table,
drinking her coffee, a man she describes as being "super nice." He told
the lie then and repeated it every time she asked for reassurance. She
trusted him.

Most people simply have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact
that someone would look straight at them and tell a bald-faced lie,
especially when that someone is in uniform, representing the United
States government, and has visited their homes and been "a part of our
family," as Jeremiah's mother puts it. The recruiter had often dined at
the Adler house; he attended Jeremiah's high-school graduation. And
there's no denying that many parents who want their children,
particularly their sons, to grow up and find some sense of purpose and
responsibility have magical thinking when it comes to the military.

When I spoke with Douglas Smith of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's
Public Affairs Office, he said he found the lies told to Jeremiah, Matt,
and Jarred far too outrageous to believe that any recruiter would tell
them. Smith told me that recruiters rely on a good relationship with the
community, and recruiting itself relies on satisfied, enthusiastic
graduates of basic training promoting the service back home. Recruiters
may talk of "possibilities," Smith suggested, that a recruit may hear as
promises, such as large student loans that are available only to
qualified recruits. His advice was that recruits need to read their
contracts carefully before signing them; if the recruiter's
"possibilities" are not written into the contract, they don't exist.

In the last few weeks of basic training, Matt pulled a knee ligament,
but he "sucked it up" and graduated. At OCS, his knee injury grew worse
until he was no longer able to run. After a few visits to sick bay, he
was booted out of OCS for missing too many training days. He was put in
a holding company, and there he waited with other injured or rejected
OCS candidates to receive orders to go to enlisted training. He was Army
property. He had three years of a contract to fulfill. He would be
trained in a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) that fit the needs of
the Army—these days the military seems to be short MPs and truck
drivers. He was angry.

When Matt went home on leave, he didn't go back. After discussing his
case with people on the G.I. Rights hot line, he waited the thirty-plus
days until he was dropped from the rolls and declared a deserter, then
he traveled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to turn himself in. The treatment at
Fort Sill was "very routine, very professional," Matt says. Except for
him and one other young recruit, all of the other deserters were quickly
processed out. Matt's command wanted him back at Fort Benning so that
they could court-martial him. "I was from an OCS battalion, and I think
at that same time the war in Iraq was peaking, so I think they felt they
couldn't just let me go. They had to bring me back and give me the shaft
as best they could, to set an example."

He was flown to Fort Benning, waited for a month and a half for his
court-martial, and after a ten-minute proceeding was given a one-month
jail sentence and an other-than-honorable discharge. He served his time
in a county jail, cheaper for the Army than shipping him to the nearest
Army brig in Pensacola, Florida. There, Matt says, he was locked up with
a bunch of "colorful characters"—drug dealers with meth labs in their
basements, indicted murderers.

Jason Lane tramps out of the forest wearing a blue bandanna, a black
sweater, and a bulky Marine-issue backpack. He's neither short nor tall,
more thick than thin, dark-haired, dark-eyed, with an expressive face. "
Hey! How yah doin'?" His voice booms, as if he's speaking through a
megaphone, and in any given word there are more inflections than there
are syllables. It's a strange moment. Meeting a Marine deserter in the
Virginia woods fits my dramatic image of the situation, but the Marine
himself, an affable nineteen-year-old from Connecticut with a high
tolerance for chaos, seems entirely familiar.

It's a brilliant September day in Triangle, Virginia; cool, bright air,
a piercing blue sky. At the picnic area of Prince William Forest Park,
one couple in business suits eats their lunch and an old man reads a
newspaper. Otherwise, the park seems spectacularly empty of humans, all
I7,000 acres of it. One mile away is the big statue of Iwo Jima that
marks the entrance to the Quantico Marine base. Jason, whose name has
been changed because he is currently in military custody, deserted the
Marines on August I, leaving Camp Geiger in North Carolina and heading
home to Connecticut. When he decided to turn himself in, he chose
Quantico because he heard deserters were treated more fairly there than
at Camp Geiger. Jason took a bus down here, arriving yesterday
afternoon, but instead of walking to the base, he walked into the
forest. He needed some time, he says.

Jason's mother married a Navy man, but she adores the Marines, and she
always told Jason he would make a great one. Right before he went UA,
Jason tried to explain to her that you could be good at something and
still not want to do it. They were so proud at his graduation from boot
camp, he tells me. And now? "It's horrible," he says. "It's very
horrible. I can't even face them. It kind of makes me wish I never even
left." Still, he calls his decision to join the Marines last winter
"stupid," and his decision to go UA "stupid but right." At the end of
the day, I bought him some snacks and Gatorade and left him at the
picnic area as the sun was going down. The temperature dropped hard that
night, so he spent it crouched under a hand dryer in the rest room,
reaching up to turn it on every time it shut off. On the third night,
Jason left the forest and simply started to walk—through the town of
Triangle and on to Dumfries, and beyond, and then back again, CD
earphones clamped on his head, Iron Maiden blasting, making up fantastic
stories and movie scenes that he would think about jotting down in the
notebook he kept in his backpack. For the next seven nights, Jason would
begin walking as the sun went down, and he would walk until dawn,
keeping himself warm. Before the sun rose, he would lie down on the
bleachers at a local ballpark. On my three visits to Virginia, I'd buy
him dinner and cigarettes, and we'd talk about his family, the Marines,
the adventures he was having living on the streets. I came to admire the
lengths Jason would go to avoid that moment of surrender.

Jason is always cheerful when I see him, and like many cheerful people,
he has a tendency toward depression, which he fights with caffeine,
cigarettes, that booming voice, a hale-and-hearty manner. In high school
Jason liked to perform in front of groups, clown around, stir people up.
But he's also a dreamer, someone who can't think in a straight line.
He'd love to make movies someday, something fantastic and allegorical.
Jason has a passionate belief in Christ, and no fear of death because of
that, he says. He seems a completely unlikely candidate for boot camp.

Jason had dropped out of high school when the Marine recruiter called.
He had what he calls "a shitty relationship with his parents"; it made
him unhappy. He had no diploma, no direction, only vague dreams of
acting and directing films. The recruiter offered a definite course—both
a compelling reason to get his high-school diploma and a plan for the
near future. As his enlistment date approached, though, Jason felt less
and less like going. "I was trying to ask people, `You think I should
cop out of this now while I got a chance?"' But Jason's passivity, his
inability to think clearly, to see the outlines of another future—how
does a high-school dropout go about becoming a film director?—left him
wide open to currents that were far too strong. Jason simply rode those
currents straight to Parris Island. "I had the mentality—I made the
commitment, I'm gonna give it a shot," he explains. "How much can it
really hurt?"

Boot camp was great, he says, though at the time it was awful. He hated
every minute of it, especially being so completely caught in a bleak and
grueling present that there was nothing to look forward to but chow. He
loved and admired his drill instructors, never doubting that they had
his best interests at heart, and he was terribly proud on graduation
day. Later he would tell me that it was the happiest day of his life.

It was when he started Infantry School at Camp Geiger in North Carolina
that Jason's resolve, never strong to start with, folded. At boot camp,
he got along with all the other recruits; they were harassed and beaten
down and completely unified. But at Camp Geiger his fellow Marines were
"just your typical man pig assholes," Jason says, and then goes to great
effort to explain a certain character type to me. "You gotta understand,
people who typically join the Marines have a certain mentality. They
have to prove something. Because of that mentality, this is what you get
when they get confidence, you get this cocky, arrogant, look-at-me-now
type of thing. And I'm sitting there saying, I'm not going to the end of
the road with these guys. I will gladly fight and die for my family, my
friends, and for my country. I will not fight and die with people that I
don't like."

In his fifth week of training his leg got infected. His combat
instructors thought they knew what it was—cellulitis—but told him it
wasn't all that serious yet and to wait three days for treatment until
the base clinic opened. His leg swelled until he could no longer put on
his boot. Still, he was given a twenty-four-hour walking post. On Sunday
he was rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for a week. When he
returned, he had to keep his leg elevated, and the drill instructors
treated him as if he were a shirker. The final straw in this series of
events that Jason would simply call "bullshit" was when they refused to
give him weekend liberty because he hadn't passed a test that he
couldn't have taken anyway, because he was in the hospital when it was
given.

Two themes run through Jason's story, very common ones in the stories of
AWOL soldiers. Jason was not a young man who found himself appalled by
the training, by the notion of killing. He was someone who was
ambivalent about joining in the first place and then objected not to the
hard work or the discipline but to what he considered unfair treatment.
"Even though it sucks right now, it still feels like I did the right
thing," he says of his decision to desert. "For one, I did something I
shouldn't have done by joining. For two, I believe you should always
stand up for what you believe in, and I don't believe that I should've
been treated like that for my leg."

People leave civilian jobs when they're treated unjustly, and no
civilian boss holds your mortal life in his or her hands. When you enter
the military, you're not arriving at some day job, a job that requires
only a piece of you and your time, a job you can easily leave. The
military is your new family; indeed, during training, it's your entire
world. Your life is in their hands, you may get wounded, die, or
kill—and it will be at their orders, in their company. So the sense of
betrayal is felt at a profound level that's difficult for any civilian
to understand.

On my third trip to Virginia, on October 7, Jason has decided he's ready
to turn himself in. He thinks it would be easier if I went with him. So
the next morning we meet for breakfast at Waffle House in Dumfries.
After eggs, toast, and many cups of coffee, I try to pay the check, but
Jason keeps ordering refills. He's trying to pump himself up. "I want to
try to be excited about this, as best as I can, you know? I don't want
to go in there all miserable and grim and be like this is the end of the
world." Finally, I convince him to get the last cup to go, and we drink
it outside in the parking lot, where we get involved in a long
discussion about the existence of God. Jason's concerned about my
atheism. He doesn't want me missing out on heaven. The sun is high
overhead when we finally get into the car and head toward the Marine
base. "Man, this is gonna suck ass," Jason says, breathing deeply.

The MP stops us at the entrance, and after I explain Jason's situation,
the Marine's face turns hard. He looks past me at Jason. "You deserted?"

"Yes, sir," Jason replies, looking miserable. To get to the Security
Battalion, which houses the MP station, we have to drive a couple of
miles down a tree-arched road, past a green, hilly golf course, and on
through the woods. Jason is silent the whole time. He warned me that he
would become almost comatose at this moment.

Inside the tiny lobby of the MP station, steps lead up to a windowed
office, so the Marine on duty towers over us. This one is pure muscle,
with shoulders and arms like tree trunks, a cinched waist, a smirk on
his face, and a tattoo of Iwo Jima on his left bicep. He regards Jason
with a combination of contempt and amusement, and keeps turning to the
other two MPs in the office, saying something inaudible and then
laughing. For some reason, the MP, who already has my driver's license,
asks me my weight, age, and Social Security number before calling Jason
to the window. Jason looks small and chubby, partly in comparison to the
giant at the window, and partly because he is slouched into his boots.
It is all "yes, sir" and "no, sir" from there on in. A blond MP comes
out into the reception area, takes Jason's backpack, and commands him to
say goodbye. We shake hands, but Jason can barely meet my eyes. And then
he is gone.

Later he would tell me that the Marine sergeant who interviewed him was
calm and professional, nothing like the MP at the reception desk. "If
you don't want to help your brother Marine," he told Jason, "we don't
want you." He didn't say it unkindly, just matter-of-factly.

If Jason is lucky, he'll be given nonjudicial punishment and released
sometime in January with an other-than-honorable discharge; that is, in
about three months from the day he surrendered. The Marines take forever
to process people out—up to six months to be dropped from the rolls, and
once you've returned, another three or four months to be processed out.
At the Quaker House in Boston, they joke that the reason it takes the
Marines so long to let anyone go is that "they just can't believe
there's anyone out there who doesn't want to be a Marine."

The Army moves much more quickly. They have two out-processing stations,
one at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the other at Fort Knox in Kentucky. At Fort
Sill, people are generally out-processed in three days because they mail
your discharge papers to you. When Jeremiah arrived at Fort Sill, there
were eight deserters. When he was sent home a week later, there were
thirty. All of the National Guardsmen and reservists were returned to
their units. Regular soldiers who left from their training units were
getting released. Noncommissioned officers were facing court-martial.

At the Army's Fort Knox center, recruits aren't released until their
discharge papers are personally handed to them, so the process can take
two to three weeks. Of course, any of this can change at any time, which
is why the people at the G.I. Rights hot line always counsel people to
call right before they turn themselves in. In November things appeared
to be backed up at Fort Knox. A soldier who was shipped from there to
Fort Sill told Jeremiah that when he left, seventy AWOL soldiers and
deserters were being held there.

AWOL and desertion are chronic problems; all any Army can hope for is to
keep them at manageable levels, not to lose soldiers needlessly. The
Army admits that youth, lack of a high-school diploma, coming from
"broken homes," and having early scrapes with the law make a soldier
only " relatively more likely" to go AWOL or to desert. In fact, the
Army is careful to note, "the vast majority of soldiers who fit this
profile are not going to desert." Yet the Army used that very same
profile to try to identify potential deserters and give them extra
attention—and the desertion rate, mysteriously, rose. It doesn't take a
huge leap of the imagination to suppose that high-school dropouts and
juvenile delinquents might have joined the military for a fresh start, a
chance to succeed at something, and when they were instead tagged as
potential failures and trouble-makers, they took off. None of the Army
data comes close to capturing the hearts and minds of soldiers. What is
any given person looking for when he or she joins the Army? Direction in
life? A chance to belong to something? Father figures? An adventure with
buddies or a test of manhood? Their parents' approval? And when they
entered the military, what did they find? That they'd been given false
promises by the recruiter? That the people they turned to for help
threatened them or made idiotic speeches about Bible-carrying Iraqis? No
help for depression? Or a lack of armor and ammunition on the
battlefield? According to the Army's own study, before soldiers went
AWOL, more than half of them sought help within the military—they spoke
to their COs, to military chaplains, military shrinks. Apparently, to
little avail.

The Army has examined the soldier, but not itself. It is tantamount to
trying to understand the problem of teenage runaways without ever asking
about their home life. Failure to adapt, issues with chain of
command—there's no sense that the military culture and environment, the
commanders, themselves, also play a part in driving soldiers out and away.

The Georgia Marine who thought he would be stationed in Kentucky made it
all the way to his MOS training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, before
he took off. There, Jarred tried to get a foot injury treated and was
told to take Tylenol. His pay was less than the recruiter had promised
him, and he even seemed to be missing money from what he was paid. When
he complained to his CO, he was told to shut up and mind his own
business. Then he learned that his company was going to be deployed to
Fallujah. "I ain't goin' to war," he told his sister flatly.

His sister kept telling Jarred to go talk to somebody. "Ain't nobody to
talk to," Jarred told her. "Ain't nobody here interested." When he went
home to Georgia on leave last March, he didn't return to his base. He
made his mother and sister take down from the walls all their Marine
paraphernalia, stripped the bumper stickers from their trucks, and
refused to watch any movies or TV shows that featured the military. "The
military," he said, "is a bunch of lies."

Kathy Dobie is the author of The Only Girl in the Car, which
originated as a memoir in this magazine. She lives in Brooklyn.

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national eNewsletter
e***@netpath.net
2005-05-20 04:07:11 UTC
Permalink
Deserters AREN'T draftdodgers - and shouldn't expect treatment as such!
Deserters now all VOLUNTEERED for the military - so they can't
honestly claim they just were forced into the Army like during Nam.

No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
http://stores.ebay.com/INTERNET-GUN-SHOW
m***@hotmail.com
2005-05-20 04:18:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@netpath.net
Deserters AREN'T draftdodgers - and shouldn't expect treatment as such!
Deserters now all VOLUNTEERED for the military
They didn't volunteer to fight in a war started because of a LIE and
for oil.

The Iraq war was started by a bunch of rich white guys who NEVER
SERVED or saw combat, and is being fought by minorities and the poor.
Post by e***@netpath.net
- so they can't
honestly claim they just were forced into the Army like during Nam.
No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
http://stores.ebay.com/INTERNET-GUN-SHOW
e***@netpath.net
2005-05-20 04:26:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by e***@netpath.net
Deserters now all VOLUNTEERED for the military
They didn't volunteer to fight in a war started because of a LIE and
for oil.
So what? When you sign up, it isn't only to fight in wars that
aren't lies! By after-the-fact historical research, Pearl Harbor - and
thus World War II - was a lie.
Post by m***@hotmail.com
The Iraq war was started by a bunch of rich white guys who NEVER
SERVED or saw combat, and is being fought by minorities and the poor.
Enlistees knew all that when they signed up.

No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
http://stores.ebay.com/INTERNET-GUN-SHOW
Tempest
2005-05-20 04:41:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@netpath.net
Post by m***@hotmail.com
Post by e***@netpath.net
Deserters now all VOLUNTEERED for the military
They didn't volunteer to fight in a war started because of a LIE and
for oil.
So what? When you sign up, it isn't only to fight in wars that
aren't lies!
It's every soldier's duty to refuse orders which they know are wrong or
illegal.

The Iraq war was both.
Post by e***@netpath.net
By after-the-fact historical research, Pearl Harbor - and thus World War II - was a lie.
Which was the lie?

That Pearl Harbor wasn't attacked, or that Pearl Harbor wasn't attacked
by Japan?


I think your tin foil hat is wrapped too tight.
--
"Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their
dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens."
- William H. Beveridge, 1944
e***@netpath.net
2005-05-20 04:52:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tempest
It's every soldier's duty to refuse orders which they know are wrong or
illegal.
ONLY if that soldier knew those orders were illegal WHEN they were
given! That doesn't absolve insubordination or desertion if he - after
the fact - finds out that those orders were illegal.
That's why the Canadian government just rejected the
political-asylum claim along those lines of some deserter who'd fled up
there.

Shop the http://stores.ebay.com/INTERNET-GUN-SHOW
Tempest
2005-05-20 05:17:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@netpath.net
Post by Tempest
It's every soldier's duty to refuse orders which they know are wrong
or
Post by Tempest
illegal.
ONLY if that soldier knew those orders were illegal WHEN they were
given!
The truth about Bush's lies didn't come out until after the war and the
orders were already given. That's when the desertions started.
Post by e***@netpath.net
That doesn't absolve insubordination or desertion if he - after
the fact - finds out that those orders were illegal.
That's your opinion. And we know what they say about opinions.
Post by e***@netpath.net
That's why the Canadian government just rejected the
political-asylum claim along those lines of some deserter who'd fled up
there.
No it wasn't. You're just talking out of your ass.

A U.S. soldier who deserted because he opposed the war in Iraq does not
qualify as a refugee and would not face excessive punishment if sent
home, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board said Thursday.
http://www.refusingtokill.net/USGulfWar2/HinzmanrejectedLATimes.htm
--
"Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their
dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens."
- William H. Beveridge, 1944
George Harrison
2005-05-20 15:44:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by e***@netpath.net
Deserters AREN'T draftdodgers - and shouldn't expect treatment as such!
Deserters now all VOLUNTEERED for the military - so they can't
honestly claim they just were forced into the Army like during Nam.
No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
http://stores.ebay.com/INTERNET-GUN-SHOW
It didn't stop Bush from desertion.
George
2005-05-21 18:34:05 UTC
Permalink
18 USC 2387

(a) Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the
loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United
States:

(1) advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to
cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member
of the military or naval forces of the United States; or

(2) distributes or attempts to distribute any written or printed
matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty,
mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of
the United States -

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years,
or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any
department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his
conviction.

(b) For the purposes of this section, the term ''military or naval
forces of the United States'' includes the Army of the United States, the
Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Naval Reserve, Marine Corps
Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve of the United States; and, when any
merchant vessel is commissioned in the Navy or is in the service of the Army
or the Navy, includes the master, officers, and crew of such vessel.

--

I hope you enjoy your new role as "Bubba's" new love interest in federal
prison, traitor-fuck!

PS - Remember Charles T. Schenk.....
Post by George Harrison
When desertion is the only option
abelincoln
2005-05-22 19:10:48 UTC
Permalink
you mean the 18 USC 2387 violates the freedom of speech guaranteed by
the bill of rights and died for by thousands of true soldiers?

is that what your mother fucking USC 2387 means?
George
2005-05-23 14:16:26 UTC
Permalink
you mean the 18 USC 2387 violates the freedom of speech guaranteed by the
bill of rights and died for by thousands of true soldiers?
It means what it says, motherfucker. Can't you read?
is that what your mother fucking USC 2387 means?
HAHAHAHAHA!

When they send you to prison, better bring your own jar of Vaseline with
you....

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