Navy cryptologist resisted Iraq deployment by taking a bus to Toronto, Canada.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong by turning down an illegal order.”
David Sanders was the third American war resister to make a refugee claim with the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada seeking asylum.
Seeking financial aid for college, this 23 year old Arizonan joined the Navy in 2002. He completed boot camp two days before the United States began bombing Iraq, and started training as a cryptologist. Anticipating a deployment job handling information leading to raids and arrests, he “didn’t want to be a part of putting innocent people in prison… I felt that what we were doing there was wrong.”
A few weeks after learning that his unit was headed to Iraq, he walked off base and got on a bus to Toronto. Fearing deportation, he kept a low profile until finding lawyer Jeffry House, an American draft dodger who fled to Canada in 1970 and is now fighting to persuade the Canadian government to grant refugee status to American "deserters".
But Sanders says he doesn’t actually consider himself a deserter. “I don’t think I did anything wrong by turning down an illegal order,” he says. “I don’t know what it’s called—I think it’s Nuremberg? (The Nuremberg Principles, [see here]established at the Nazi trials after World War II, declare that it is the right and responsibility of individual soldiers to refuse to follow illegal orders or to participate in war crimes.) — that’s what I followed by leaving.”