Living so near Portland, Oregon, one of the more left leaning cities on the West Cost of the country, we become used to the protesters burning soldiers in effigy and even defecating on a burning American Flag. But, a Sanctuary City for AWOL Troops?
Forming an umbrella group for anti-war activists in Portland, the PDX Peace coalition has announced a planned protest today in Downtown Portland. Under the group, recognizing the fiasco of last years protest, protesters have “changed tactics in the hopes of broadening support, creating year-round opposition to U.S. foreign policy and perhaps making the city a sanctuary for AWOL soldiers.”
To that end, the group has drafted a resolution to “make the city a sanctuary where Portland police officers refrain from arresting soldiers who refuse to return to duty because they oppose the war.” The idea lost steam before, but is being revived.
Nearly two years ago a web site was set up called PDX Sanctuary with the words,
“We the people of Portland, OR, seek to provide a sanctuary for members of the military who exercise their duty to object to an illegal war. To that end, we hope to have the County Board and the City Council pass resolutions to not waste public funds on the arrest or detention of service members who are absent without leave.”
Another web site from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, set up a page just for encouraging Soldiers to seek Administrative Discharges. Under their “Mission Statement,” we read,
“The project aims to (1) counter-recruit the military's effort to swindle, coerce, and deceive the youth of America into entering military service; and (2) provide direct counseling and information to GI's attempting to withdraw from military service.”
Going AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) or UA (Unauthorized Absence) from the Military is a Federal Crime. Enlisting in today’s All Volunteer Military, made that way due to pressure from protest groups and anti-war politicians in the early 1970’s, is a contract, legal and binding. If one is opposed to war or fighting, they should not consider enlisting, as many did through the 1990’s, believing it to be an easy way to earn college money instead of service to the country.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, many found that the easy ride they were led to expect was over and some wanted out, claiming they didn’t join to fight. Those that enlisted after September 11 have to have known what was ahead.
Efforts have been launched to undermine not only President Bush’s prosecution of the war, but recruitment efforts as well, documented lately by the group Move America Forward.
A Military Litigation Law Firm in Virginia lets AWOL Soldiers know,
“If you are absent without authority, or in a deserter status, you have a major problem on your hands. As you are probably aware, once you are absent for more than 30 days, you are declared a deserter and a federal warrant is issued for your arrest. A simple speeding ticket by your local police can result in your immediate arrest, transfer back to the military, confinement, a punitive discharge and a federal conviction that will be on your record for the rest of your life.”
The Department of the Army even has a pamphlet out letting Soldiers know of the consequences of going AWOL, AWOL and the CONSEQUENCES, explaining the seriousness of going AWOL and even Deserting.
Those desiring Portland, Oregon to be turned into a “Sanctuary City” for AWOL Soldiers have little or no idea of the long-term consequences for those they encourage to walk away from their Military Contract. Many never served and have no comprehension of the sense of Duty and Honor most enlistees’ hold when they volunteer for the Military. Going against that sense can have very long term effects that may affect one for the rest of their life.
Like said earlier, AWOL is a Federal Offense punishable by Federal Court or Military Court’s Martial. If picked up by local Police, the AWOL Soldier is turned over to Federal Authorities for prosecution. Those that turn themselves in usually face much less severe punishment, depending on length of time gone.
Portland has an FBI Office Downtown and other Federal Law Enforcement Officials as well as Recruitment Offices for all Branches of the Military. Would such a Sanctuary City arrangement degrade cooperation between law enforcement? Would activist fight to keep one from being arrested or detained by Federal Officers?
Portland is already on thin ice with Federal Officers over the Mayor’s withdrawal from the anti-terror task force in 2005, because he didn’t get his way over access to top-secret information. Would this ill-conceived idea further deterioate the relations in Portland?
Over the years many have condemned Southern States for their secession from the Union that led to the American Civil War. Efforts as this by the anti-war groups seem like they have decided to secede cities from the rest of the country now.
Where this anarchist attitude will lead is anybodies guess. One thing for sure, though, their misguided efforts will not diminish terrorists nor help any of the Soldiers they encourage to go AWOL.