He was the first commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, Watada will face a court-martial starting today.
"He's accomplished a great deal. He's really sparked a debate and whether people agree with him or disagree with him, many, many more people have looked at the issues that he's addressed," said Eric Seitz.
"Let us not forget that it was a failure, not through its conduct, but through its unconstitutional and immoral policy," Watada said.
Portland groups rally for soldier who refused to go to Iraq
12:52 PM PST on Monday, February 5, 2007
By SEAN JACKS, kgw.com Staff
Dozens of Portlanders voiced their support Monday for a soldier from Fort Lewis who refused to deploy to Iraq. The group of war protesters caravanned up to the military base in Washington Monday morning for the start of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada’s court martial.
The 28-year old refused an order to deploy to Iraq last June. He is charged with missing a troop movement and two counts unbecoming an officer for making public comments against the war.
Watada said the war is illegal and he has an obligation to refuse unlawful orders. A military judge has ruled Watada can’t base his defense on the war’s legality
“I think his action was totally justified. I mean, if your parent says to jump off a bridge, you’re not going to do that, or if your mom says to kill someone, you’re not going to do that,” said Anna Joy Gillis. She traveled to the support rally with her mother.
Members of the group said they support Watada for objecting to what they feel is an illegal war.
Several different Portland based anti-war groups organized the trip to the rally. It included college students, military veterans, and others opposed to the war in Iraq.
The Portland group joined other protesters outside Fort Lewis, including outspoken war critic, actor Sean Penn.
Lt. Watada faces four years in prison if convicted of the charges.