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US Army Deserters

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  • ummyakoub
    A new underground railroad Becky Oberg Service members know the consequences of going absent without leave (unauthorized absence in the Navy) — a maximum
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 11, 2003
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      A new underground railroad
      Becky Oberg

      Service members know the consequences of going absent without leave
      (unauthorized absence in the Navy) — a maximum penalty of five years
      confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable
      discharge. The maximum penalty for desertion in a time of war is

      "If everything else fails, people should desert, just as George W.
      Bush did during the Vietnam War." —Carl Rising-Moore

      Yet some military personnel are going AWOL or deserting to avoid
      returning to Iraq.

      "I definitely don't want to go back there," a Florida National
      Guardsman told CBS News. "I think most people — if not all people who
      are there — don't want to be there."

      That Guardsman missed his flight back to Iraq on Oct. 18. According
      to the Washington Post, the soldier has not returned to duty and may
      be on the run.

      According to Natalie Granger of the Army Public Affairs Office, 3,800
      soldiers deserted in 2002. Three thousand two hundred fifty-five were
      returned to military control. In 2001, 5,065 deserted and 4,966 were

      "This is something that we have to deal with regularly," Granger

      Granger said she could not say whether the Army would execute a
      deserter today as each case is judged on an individual
      basis. "Obviously it's an option," she said.

      Army spokesman Joe Burlas said the Army would probably not pursue
      execution. He said the last execution for desertion was during World
      War II.

      "[The penalty for desertion is] basically five years confinement if
      there's an intent to avoid hazardous duty," he said.

      The GI Rights Hotline, a national soldiers' support service, told the
      New York Post that they've received more than 100 calls inquiring
      about the penalties associated for going AWOL. Some of the calls have
      come from soldiers home on leave, others have come from soldiers in
      the war zone. Some callers have said they will not return to Iraq.

      The consequences of this action can be harsh. In a recent case,
      Marine Stephen Funk was acquitted of desertion but convicted of
      unauthorized absence, according to occupationwatch.org. Funk, a
      conscientious objector, was sentenced to six months in the Camp
      Lejeune brig (military prison), reduction in rank to private,
      forfeiture of two-thirds pay for six months and a bad-conduct

      The penalty is harsher for desertion. After a service member is AWOL
      for more than 30 days, he or she is dropped from the rolls and
      administratively classified as a deserter.

      When a soldier is classified as a deserter, a federal arrest warrant
      is issued. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies may
      apprehend the deserter. The next of kin is contacted by letter after
      10 days and asked to urge the member to return voluntarily to
      military control.

      Harboring a deserter is illegal. According to Claudia Cummings,
      public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in
      Indianapolis, the maximum penalty is three years in a federal prison.

      Some people, however, think it is worth the risk.

      "When I hear about these women and men that would kill themselves to
      escape, my duty as a veteran and a loyal American is to fight my
      government in whatever nonviolent manner is appropriate," Carl Rising-
      Moore said in an e-mail to anti-war activists in Indianapolis.

      According to USA Today, 11 soldiers and three Marines have killed
      themselves in the past seven months in Iraq. Several other deaths are
      being investigated as suicides. In addition, the Army has sent 478
      soldiers home from Iraq for mental health reasons.

      Rising-Moore, an Army veteran, served during the Vietnam War. While
      he volunteered for duty in Vietnam, he was stationed stateside. When
      he was discharged, he was supportive of people who were fleeing to
      Canada to avoid serving. He said the current Iraq situation is
      similar to Vietnam.

      "If everything else fails, people should desert, just as George W.
      Bush did during the Vietnam War," he said.

      There is a gap in Bush's military service record from May 1972 to
      October 1973. Critics have charged he deserted.

      Rising-Moore said people all over the country are willing to harbor
      deserters and help them escape to Canada.

      "The Canadian people are up for the task," Rising-Moore said.

      Under Canadian law, political asylum cases are handled on a case-by-
      case basis by an immigration officer at the border. Canada follows
      the United Nations guidelines on granting political asylum.

      Rising-Moore also said Sweden and Norway might grant political asylum
      to deserters.

      Some countries definitely will not.

      "There is no way they can come to Switzerland," said a spokesperson
      from the Consulate of Switzerland in Indianapolis. "We are a neutral
      country. We don't get involved in the affairs of other peoples."

      Rising-Moore is currently in Canada to gather support for what he
      called the "Freedom Underground." He will visit all the major cities,
      including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax
      and Ottawa.

      Rising-Moore said some people think he has gone over the top, but he
      believes the Nuremberg principle applies. According to the Nuremberg
      principle, individuals have a responsibility to choose to follow the
      higher moral code when it conflicts with laws and orders.

      "I would hope the American people would stand up against this fascist
      regime of George W. Bush, the un-elected military dictator of the
      United States of America," he said.

      "It is better to go through the proper channels to leave the
      military, but if one is willing to die rather than go through the
      process, than I recommend that they leave right away," Rising-Moore
      wrote in e-mail communication. "I reiterate that a better solution to
      this option is to become a war resister within the military and tell
      your commanding officer that you do not wish to kill any more. It may
      take a few months, but eventually they will let you out. You may wish
      to also refuse to be assigned to Iraq because even if you are in a
      noncombatant role, you are still supporting this illegal and immoral

      Rising-Moore said that two weeks ago, 30 military personnel refused
      to report for duty in Iraq.

      Just deserts...

      • In 1971, Abbie Hoffman described how to desert in Steal This Book.
      Hoffman recommended Sweden and Canada.

      • According to its government Web page, Canada received between
      30,000 and 40,000 deserters and draft dodgers during the Vietnam War.
      Many went to Toronto, which still has a heavy American presence.

      • According to the History Channel, the last execution for desertion
      was in 1945, when Army Pvt. Eddie Slovik was shot by a firing squad.

      • The Army's Deserter Information Point (USADIP) is in Indianapolis.
      USADIP is the Army's information control center for absentees and




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