US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada calls Iraq war illegal, refuses order to go

Officer likely to refuse Iraq call

A Fort Lewis soldier is poised to become the first U.S. military officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, his supporters said Monday.

http://tinyurl.com/ka4ws


From Information Clearing House

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Francis A. Boyle Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave. Champaign, IL 61820 USA
217-333-7954 (voice)
217-244-1478 (fax) fboyle@law.uiuc.edu
(personal comments only)


-----Original Message-----
From: Boyle, Francis
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2006 8:25 AM
To: nyt@blythe.org
Subject: FW: seattletimes.com: Officer at Fort Lewis calls Iraq war illegal, refuses order to go

Statement On Behalf Of Lt. Ehren Watada
By Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law
7 June 2006

One generation ago the peoples of the world asked themselves: Where were the "good" Germans? Well, there were some good Germans. The Lutheran theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the foremost exemplar of someone who led a life of principled opposition to the Nazi-terror state even unto death. Today the peoples of the world are likewise asking themselves: Where are the "good" Americans? Well, there are some good Americans. They are getting prosecuted for protesting against illegal U.S. military interventions and war crimes around the world. First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is America's equivalent to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Vaclav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Wei Jingsheng, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others. He is the archetypal American Hero whom we should be bringing into our schools and teaching our children to emulate, not those wholesale purveyors of gratuitous violence and bloodshed adulated by the U.S. government, America's power elite, the mainstream corporate news media, and its interlocked entertainment industry. In international legal terms, the Bush Jr. administration itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, American citizens and soldiers such as Lieutenant Watada possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance in order to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism. If not so restrained, the Bush Jr. administration could very well precipitate a Third World War.


-----Original Message-----
From: fboyle@law.uiuc.edu
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2006 8:22 AM
Subject: seattletimes.com: Officer at Fort Lewis calls Iraq war illegal, refuses order to go


Officer at Fort Lewis calls Iraq war illegal, refuses order to go Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003044627_nogo7m.html

By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter

In a rare case of officer dissent, a Fort Lewis Army lieutenant has refused orders to head out to Iraq this month to lead troops in what he believes is an illegal war of occupation.

1st Lt. Ehren Watada's Stryker brigade is scheduled to make its first deployment to Iraq this month. His refusal to accompany these troops puts him at risk of court-martial and years of prison time.

"I feel that we have been lied to and betrayed by this administration," Watada said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Fort Lewis. "It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order -- including the order to go to war."

In making his decision, Watada has reached out to peace groups, including clergy, students, some veterans opposed to Iraq and others. Some war critics are raising money for his legal defense as they seek to galvanize broader opposition to Bush administration policy in Iraq.

"There has been an outpouring of support in the Puget Sound area," said David Solnit, who works with the anti-war group Courage to Resist. The group and others are helping organize a press conference today in Tacoma to launch the support campaign.

Watada met over the weekend with Olympia peace activists, and had hoped to attend the press conference. But after a Tuesday meeting with an Army colonel, he was given written orders not to attend during duty hours between 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Instead, he expects to offer a video statement.

Watada's actions also may become a lightning rod for others in the debate about the Iraq war.

"He has an obligation to fulfill, and it is not up to the individual officer to decide when he is going to deploy or not deploy," said Jerry Newberry, a Vietnam veteran and director of communications for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "Some other officer will have to go in his place. He needs to think about that."

Watada, a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is unsure what charges he might face. But he is concerned that his decision to go public will cause the Army to pile on numerous offenses, such as disobeying an order, missing a troop movement and unauthorized absence.

"I think they will do their best to make an example of me," Watada said.

Though some U.S. commissioned officers refused to deploy in the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War, it is unclear how many -- if any -- have balked at deployment in the Iraq war. Pentagon officials said they had no such statistics available.

A Fort Lewis spokesman, Joe Hitt, also had no knowledge of any other commissioned officer refusing to deploy. He declined to comment on Watada.

Among the enlisted ranks at Fort Lewis, Sgt. Kevin Benderman is serving a 15-month sentence at a base correctional facility for refusing a second tour of duty in Iraq. Benderman, an Army mechanic for 10 years, served in Iraq in 2003 but refused to board a plane for a return trip in January 2005.

There is also a much broader category of military personnel who for a wide range of reasons have not fulfilled their service obligations.

Since the beginning of the war, more than 7,900 members of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have deserted, a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands who have served. Pentagon statistics indicate that desertions have declined as the war has progressed. They dropped from
3,678 in 2003, the first year of the war, to about 2,000 in 2005. The desertions typically involve enlisted personnel, not officers.

Watada has not deserted, since he remains on post in Fort Lewis.

Watada, 28, is a native of Hawaii, and an Eagle Scout who graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a finance degree.

His father -- Robert Watada, a retired Hawaii state official -- was opposed to the war in Vietnam, and was able to do alternative service in the Peace Corps in Peru.

And Robert Watada said he laid out the "pros and cons" of military service as his son considered joining the service in the spring of 2003 as the invasion of Iraq was launched.

"He knew very well of my decision not to go to Vietnam, and he had to make his own decision to join the Army," Robert Watada said. "It was very noble. He felt like he wanted to do his part for his country."

After the younger Watada enlisted, he was sent to officer-training school in Georgia. Watada said he supported the war at that time because he believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"I had my doubts," he said. "But I felt like the president is our leader, and he won't betray our trust, and he would know what he was talking about, and let's give him the benefit of the doubt." Over the past year, his feeling changed as he read up on the war and became convinced that there was "intentional manipulation of intelligence" by the Bush administration.

In January, Watada told his commanders that he believed that the war was unlawful, and therefore, so were his deployment orders. He did not, however, consider himself a conscientious objector, since he was willing to fight in wars that were justified, legal and in defense of the nation.

Watada was told that he could submit his resignation, but that the Army would recommend disapproval. That resignation was rejected in May, he said.

In a court-martial proceeding, Watada, who has retained civilian counsel, said he would try to mount a case about the legality of the war under international law and American law. But he is aware that a military court might not allow him to make that case.

Peace activists say they hope more military personnel will refuse to go war.

"We plan a national campaign to try to make sure that he is not punished for what he is doing," Solnit said.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581.

Seattle Times reporter Alex Fryer contributed to this story.

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A Call to Support U.S. Military Officer to Refuse Illegal Iraq War

Thank you LT for standing up for international, US and military law by refusing to deploy to Iraq in support of the ongoing illegal war and occupation.

http://www.thankyoult.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1


From Information Clearing House

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U.S. Army officer declares Iraq war resistance
http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/4618/

Lt. Ehren Watada interviewed on his refusal to deploy to 'illegal war'
http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/4619/


Informant: jensenmk

From ufpj-news

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First Officer Publicly Resists War

"Yesterday, US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly state his refusal to obey an order to deploy to Iraq," writes Marjorie Cohn. "Lt. Watada asked me to speak about the legality of the war at his press conference."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/060806J.shtml

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Lt. Ehren Watada's June 7 press conference in Tacoma, WA
http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/4623/

Michael Honey refutes *News Tribune* editorial on Lt. Watada
http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/4624/


Informant: jensenmk

From ufpj-news

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Military Officer Gains National Support for Resisting Deployment

When 27-year-old US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada announced his refusal to deploy to Iraq yesterday, he did so surrounded by veterans, military family members, and members of the religious and anti-war communities. News of Watada's intent to refuse his orders to deploy to Iraq has galvanized anti-war communities around the country.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/060806R.shtml

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Army Lieutenant Becomes First Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment to Iraq

Interview: Audio and transcript: On Wednesday U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada announced his intention to disobey what he says are illegal orders to deploy to Iraq. We speak with 1st Lieutenant Watada and his lawyer, Legrand Jones.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13538.htm

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Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war

Lt. Watada confirmed, “I have a legal and ethical obligation to speak out against, and refuse to fight, this patently illegal war in Iraq. This has not changed.”

http://tinyurl.com/ogefp


From Information Clearing House

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Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War

"While ongoing media coverage of the protest debates whether Watada's action is one of cowardice or conscience, so far the seriousness of his legal claims have been largely ignored," write Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith. "Watada's position is different from that of conscientious objectors, who oppose all wars."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/061306N.shtml

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Is the US Army Trying to Silence Lt. Watada?

Sarah Olson asks, "What are the speech rights for members of the military? Do they have legal rights to speak publicly about a war they think is illegal or just plain wrong? Currently, the Army is investigating Lieutenant Watada for speaking 'contemptuously' about the president."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/061406R.shtml



Lt. Watada's right and obligation to speak out
http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/4661/


Informant: jensenmk

From ufpj-news

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