Thursday, August 24, 2006
LOTS OF LUCK, GUY
A soldier who refused to deploy to Iraq should find out today if he will face court-martial.
Ehren Watada said he would go to Afghanistan but not Iraq.
Watada said in court last week his refusal to serve in Iraq was his "obligation to the country."
After deliberately missing the deployment of his Iraq-bound Stryker brigade on June 22, Watada was charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—one count of missing movement, two counts of contempt toward officials, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. It was a contentious ending to a military career that began with the stuff of Army recruiters' dreams: A patriotic young man who simply wanted to defend his country against terrorists.
When Watanda realized he could not allow himself to deploy to Iraq, Watada asked to be sent to Afghanistan, a war he supports because it has a clear connection to an enemy that attacked the U.S. The request was denied. Watada then asked to resign. That request, too, was denied. After refusing to deploy and having the book thrown at him by Army prosecutors, Watada suggested a compromise: a less-than-honorable discharge and some non-prison form of punishment. The military wasn't interested. All of this suggests to Seitz that the military wants this confrontation with his client—wants to make an example of Watada.
His father, Bob Watada spoke to a gathering of 50 people yesterday in San Jose, defending his son's actions.
"My son is very strong. He's going to -- even if there's a court-martial, he's going to go to jail instead of killing innocent Iraqis -- that's the real tragedy here," Watada said.
The article below is from People's Weekly World.
Support grows for Lt. Ehren Watada
SAN FRANCISCO — Supporters of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada — the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq — welcomed his father, Bob Watada, this week for a whirlwind tour of the Bay Area.
“I feel the support is really building up,” Bob Watada told an Aug. 21 press conference here near the start of the tour. He said many organizations, including Iraq Veterans against the War, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, the National Lawyers Guild and others, are actively supporting his son. Events during the week, organized by peace, veterans and religious groups, were also slated for San Jose, Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Berkeley.
The elder Watada described the evolution of his son’s thinking about the war in Iraq. Ehren Watada joined the Army in “the fervor of the patriotic fever young people felt after September 11,” he said, “because he wanted to do something for his country, and he felt that was the right thing to do.”
Transferred back to the U.S. after serving in Korea, Ehren Watada even sought immediate deployment to Iraq, but the Army rejected the request. “And that was perhaps a misfortune for the Army,” said Bob Watada, because his son “began to study what was going on in Iraq, and started developing some strong feelings about this war,” including the daily killings of civilians and the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction.
Calling the war a violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as international law, Bob Watada said his son was acting to uphold the Constitution, including his right to free speech.
Following a preliminary hearing at Ft. Lewis, Wash., last week, Ehren Watada now faces a court martial trial, possibly in November, for missing a movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer — the latter based on his public criticism of the Iraq war as a violation of U.S. and international law. He has been reassigned to a desk job at Ft. Lewis.
If convicted, Lt. Watada faces a possible seven and a half years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
Joining Bob Watada at the press conference were Marti Hiken, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force, and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Hidachi.
Hiken presented a statement by the task force, calling Ehren Watada’s resistance “a response to the deception and illegality surrounding this war as well as the increasing resistance to it on the part of those forced to fight it.”
Calling Lt. Watada’s position “a moral one,” the statement concluded that “all people of honor, whether in the military or not,” should reject the Army’s insistence that he “abandon his core beliefs and integrity to support this unconscionable war.”
“When people enter the military, they don’t automatically give up their rights,” Hiken said in a later interview. “The Bush administration’s attempts to silence dissent have a far-reaching impact on all of us,” she added. “We want the American people to be able to hear what soldiers are saying about the war.”
Hidachi told the reporters, “We in the Japanese community should be proud that a Japanese American soldier has taken a stand against this illegal war.” Prosecuting a soldier for stating his views on what is commonly known — that the Bush administration misled its citizens when it claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was connected to Sept. 11 — “is particularly unjust and immoral,” Hidachi added.
The web site www.thankyoult.org features a petition and further information on Lt. Ehren Watada’s situation. Information about Bob Watada’s Bay Area events this week can be obtained by calling (510) 528-7288.