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Friday, May 21, 2004

Don't Miss Bob Herbert Today

In the NY Times:
Sergeant Mejia has been charged with desertion. His court-martial at Fort Stewart, Ga., began Wednesday, the same day that Specialist Sivits pleaded guilty to the charges against him. If Sergeant Mejia is convicted, he will face a similar punishment, a year in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.

Sergeant Mejia told me in a long telephone interview this week that he had qualms about the war from the beginning but he followed his orders and went to Iraq in April 2003. He led an infantry squad and saw plenty of action. But the more he thought about the war including the slaughter of Iraqi civilians, the mistreatment of prisoners (which he personally witnessed), the killing of children, the cruel deaths of American G.I.'s (some of whom are the targets of bounty hunters in search of a reported $2,000 per head), the ineptitude of inexperienced, glory-hunting military officers who at times are needlessly putting U.S. troops in even greater danger, and the growing rage among coalition troops against all Iraqis (known derisively as "hajis," the way the Vietnamese were known as "gooks") the more he thought about these things, the more he felt that this war could not be justified, and that he could no longer be part of it.