Aug 1, 2005
On July 28, U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman, an Iraq combat veteran, was convicted by a court-martial of "missing movement" of his unit. Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in jail, busted to private, and ordered dishonorably discharged. He was not convicted of the harsher charge of desertion.
And what was Sgt. Benderman's crime? He became opposed to war because of what he'd seen on his first Iraq combat tour in 2003. He applied for conscientious objector status just before his unit returned to Iraq for a second tour. He also went public, speaking and writing about his experiences and his moral convictions.
Perhaps it was exercising his freedom of speech that earned Benderman the harshest sentence yet delivered to a GI who refuses Iraq duty. In any event, the court-martial delivered quite a message to U.S. troops: you are free not to obey, but if you use that freedom, we are taking away more of your life!
Which is, by no coincidence, approximately the same message being delivered to the whole Iraqi population by the U.S. military machine today.