Sudden increase in tracking down Vietnam deserters appears tied to Iraq war

| Wed Mar. 22, 2006 6:00 PM PST

Patriot Daily has a good analysis of the current trend of the U.S. military to track down Vietnam war deserters in what the authors call "an effort to set an example to deter the growing number of Iraq War military resisters who are fleeing to Canada." Since the war in Iraq began, at least 8,000 soldiers have deserted, a number which represents a decrease in desertions since September 11, 2001. The U.S. military denies that it has stepped up its campaign to find deserters, but there is some evidence to the contrary.

At least one Marine official has acknowledged that his office was being more aggressive in tracking down Vietnam war deserters. Chief Warrant Officer James Averhart said that he had ordered cold cases reopened, and that in his first year on the job, his sqad had brought in 27 deserters.

One case of particular interest is that of U.S. Marin Allen Abney, who lives in Canada but who has crossed the border "hundreds of times" to shop to take other trips. Just this month, he crossed the border and was arrested and transferred to military custody. Abney's case received publicity in both the American and Canadian press, and perhaps coincidentally, he will probably be released soon. Abney, like many soldiers, did not apply for amnesty under either the Ford clemency plan or the Carter amnesty plan. Though the Carter plan was much less punitive than the Ford plan, it gave unconditional amnesty to draft evaders only.

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