old piece who doesn't fit anywhere in an old puzzle
Surely we can all be forgiven for being a bit hazy about the details of things that transpired 38 years ago.
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau exploited a little loophole in the US-Canada extradition treaty, which did not obligate Canada to return someone to the USA for an act which was a crime in the US but was not also a crime in Canada. Canada had no military draft, so "draft-dodging" wasn't a crime in Canada ... so Trudeau used that loophole to offer sanctuary to Americans facing the US draft. Thousands crossed into Canada, stayed, got jobs, raised families, eventually became Canadian citizens.
This fellow wasn't a draft-dodger, though. He was already in the US Marine Corps.
Possibly by being drafted rather than volunteering; when the Marines couldn't make their recruiting quota, they were authorized to pick new Marines from the draftees who thought they were going into the Army. Happened rarely, but it happened.
Until this week, he's been depending on luck to keep one step ahead of his old troubles.
What will happen to him?
Like land mines, wars keep on hurting and bothering and pestering and even killing and maiming people long after the peace treaty is signed. For most Americans, Vietnam is the haziest and fuzziest of memories -- or is entirely beyond the horizon of living memory.
There's no statute of limitations on desertion. He'll be tried by a Navy Court Martial, not a federal civilian court. His sentence will be determined by a panel of Navy and Marine officers; under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he has a right to request that one or two enlisted men serve on his Court Martial.
We used to say:
Military Justice is to Justice
as Military Music is to Music.
as Military Music is to Music.
As the story hints, the military always recognizes a continuing internal obligation to discourage servicemen and servicewomen in current wars from deserting when they face shipment to combat. Commanders will feel strongly that they need to sentence him to a long term, probably the US military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.
It's very unlikely the Canadian government will put up a fight for him. To get Canadian citizenship, he almost certainly lied when he applied.
An imaginary dotted line, a long-ago war just as failed and sucky as Iraq that almost nobody remembers.
Only government computers never forget. Only governments never forgive.
Vleeptron has previously run stories about military personnel in this war who've begun deserting to Canada.
If they're lucky, they might not get caught until 2044. Halley's Comet will be back in 2063. He's an old piece from an old puzzle that doesn't fit anywhere. But shortly he'll be crammed into it.
CBC / Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Sunday 23 March 2006
U.S. Marines in 1968
A British Columbian man spent the weekend detained at a military base in California after being arrested for deserting the U.S. Marine Corps four decades ago during the Vietnam War.
Allen Abney, who was born in the United States but became a Canadian citizen in 1977, was arrested at a border crossing on Thursday while trying to enter Idaho from southeastern British Columbia.
Abney, 56, lives in Kingsgate in British Columbia's East Kootenay region, in a house about 100 metres from the Canada-U.S. border.
He and his wife were on their way for a holiday in Reno, Nevada, when U.S. officials accused him of desertion and took him into custody.
In 1968, Abney was a 19-year-old Marine when he fled to Canada because he didn't want to fight in Vietnam.
He is the third Marine from the Vietnam era to be arrested this month, and Toronto lawyer Jeffrey House believes the marines are trying to make examples of deserters to discourage those who might think of avoiding the Iraq war.
"They've got 8,000 deserters from the Iraq war, those are the official numbers, and my take on it is they are trying to send a message to Marines who are actually in the forces now that they will never be forgiven," he said.
Charges on desertion can result in penalties ranging from a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military to a court martial and possible jail sentence.
U.S. military 'not saying anything,' Abney's wife says
His wife, Adrienne, said Abney was being held in a military prison at Camp Pendleton, California.
"They're not saying anything to him yet," she told CBC News.
"I talked to him twice on Friday, just very briefly. He's in the brig."
Arrest came during routine crossing
Abney's wife said the trouble began when their passports were checked during a routine border crossing.
"After running them through some computer, they said we'd have to come inside," she said.
"They took Allen away into a room and locked him up."
Then customs officials confiscated several of Abney's personal items, she said.
"They took his belt, his suspenders, shoes, his wallet, his glasses, everything."
Abney said her husband's case has come to the attention of Lynn Gonzalez, a counsellor with the San Diego Military Counseling Project.
The group's website explains that it offers support to "active duty folks and their families who are having problems within the military."
Abney said Gonzalez is keeping in touch with her about the case.
"She phoned me yesterday and said, basically he's all right," she said.
"We're just waiting to hear what they are going to do."
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