Statement on the Trial of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia

In the special court-martial of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia in Georgia on Wednesday, the wrong man is on trial. If Monday’s revelations by Seymour Hersh are confirmed, on the personal responsibility of Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush for treatment of prisoners amounting to torture, they should both resign or be impeached and tried by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes. Sergeant Mejia served his country bravely and well in Iraq; but he is serving his country better, and just as bravely, in his publicly-announced refusal to participate further in what he correctly identifies as an illegal war using illegal means. That is also true of his role in being one of the first to expose serious American violations of the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners, which as ratified treaties have the status, with the Constitution, of the highest law of the land.

Mejia’s commendation by his company commander for “exceptional meritorious service” in Iraq cites his “courage and commitment” that “reflects great credit upon himself … and the United States Army.” Those words apply exactly to his present stance, which deserves commendation by his fellow citizens, and indeed, if they share his integrity, by his military superiors.