U.S. Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman charged
19 January 2005, Robert S. Finnegan, Southeast Asia News

The Army today charged Sergeant Kevin Benderman with two counts of violating  the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), for his refusal to re-deploy to  Iraq in a case that has sparked a worldwide media feeding-frenzy and  elicited condemnation of both the Bush administration and the U.S. Army.

Benderman, 40, charged with violating articles 85 and 87 after refusing to  re-deploy to Iraq appeared before his commanding officer today who formally  read the charges filed against him.  The specification under article 85 charged Benderman with desertion and  intent to avoid hazardous duty in connection with Operation Iraqi Freedom,  and the specification under Article 87 charged him with missing the units  movement, or deployment to Kuwait (the staging area for military forces  entering Iraq).

Benderman has filed for Conscientious Objector status with the Army. His  former commanding officer, now deployed, had recommended denial of his CO  application even before it was acted upon according to military regulations.  Benderman says his new commanding officer is following Army regulations to  the letter and has been helpful in processing his request.

While realizing that his moral stand could result in a jail sentence,  Benderman described his feelings today as ambivalent.

I am certainly not going to back down now, why would I do that? I am continuing to go forward with what I believe in and am going to demand a General Courts-Martial, he said.

This is the right of any serviceman or woman who holds the rank of Non-Commissioned Officer or above when faced with charges of this severity. The possible penalties handed down by this court however are the maximum allowed under the UCMJ, whereas other levels provide for less severe punishment upon conviction.

Benderman remains adamant about his views on war. War is a worthless endeavor, why do we continue to pursue it? It is time for war to pass into the history books, just as human slavery and sacrifice did, he said.

Now that the Army has defined his case, Benderman plans to go on leave in order to prepare his defense.

Army Public Affairs Officer Lt. Colonel Robert Whetstone stated when contacted for comment that he was aware that Sgt. Benderman had been charged, but did not know what he was charged with. Whetstone said he would be seeking that information from the Staff Judge Advocate.

Southeast Asia News Managing Editor Robert S. Finnegan is an internationally published investigative reporter and former Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer. Working recently as a Senior Editor and lead investigator on the Bali Bombings for The Jakarta Post, he may be reached at seanews1@yahoo.com.