The Tahoma Activist

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Supporters demand no court-martial for Lt. Watada

This just in from the lovely and compassionate Sallie Shawl of the South Sound Peace and Justice Center, regarding the upcoming events to support Lt. Watada:

(Ft. Lewis, WA)-- On August 16th, supporters from across Washington and the Northwest will converge on Ft. Lewis to rally in support of U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada on the eve of his Article 32 hearing and demand that he not be court-martialed for fulfilling his obligation under international law to refuse illegal orders.

In June Lt. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. He has been charged with three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, two counts (for the same statements) of contempt towards officials, specifically President G. W. Bush, and one count of missing movement. If found guilty of all charges, he could be sentenced to seven years in confinement, five of the years for speaking out.

Lt. Watada faces an Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury hearing, on August 17th. In such a hearing, the hearing officer may recommend the case be heard at a general or a special court-martial, receive non-judicial punishment or be dismissed outright.

Supporters will gather beginning at 4:00 p.m. for a 6:00 p.m. rally at the Interstate 5, Exit 119 bridge at the entrance to Fort Lewis.

Speakers will include Lt. Watada's father, Bob Watada; his civilian counsel, Eric Seitz; Jeff Patterson the first war resister to the Gulf War; and Lietta Ruger, Washington State Chapter Coordinator of Military Family Families Speak Out. The event will be MC’d by Phan Nguyen of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace. Organizations from Bellingham to San Francisco are planning to attend.

Sallie Shawl

South Sound Peace & Justice Center
(A program of Associated Ministries)
1224 South I Street
Tacoma, WA 98405
253-383-3056 ext 105
FAX 253-383-2672

Categories: War & Peace, Local Groups

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At 4:58 AM, Anonymous Allen said...

He took an oath of office, part of which means he follows orders. He refused to follow those orders. He should be convicted for not following orders, and given the max sentence for that, and only that.

He should never have enlisted if he is unable to follow orders. I feel his behavior demeans our service men and women who proudly serve. IMHO he is a coward.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Tahoma Activist said...

Clearly you haven't studied the facts of the case. Lt. Watada is not now claiming conscientious objector states; he is challenging the entire legal character of the President's case for war!

The war itself was a war crime according to Watada's legal case, and the occupation of Iraq is the continuation of that wholly illegitimate policy. Whatever honestly held feelings you have about this case, your opinions have no bearing on its outcome. This case will hinge on whether or not Watada's legal team can prove that this war was an illegal act committed by a President intent on defrauding the American people and the men and women of the American armed forces.

As someone who professes a profound respect for our men and women in uniform, don't you want to know the facts as to whether or not their bloody sacrifice has been for a just cause? If Watada wins this case, all your deeply held passionate feelings will be wasted, because the truth will be clear that over two thousand brave American men and women were killed for no good reason other than improving the political and financial fortunes of the super-elites that rule this country.

I know you have strong convictions about the importance of following an oath. But consider this: every American servicemember signs an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, first and foremost, above all else. And when the duly elected Representative of the People, the President of the United States, trashes the Constitution to win elections and make billions for his friends in Big Business, that is a crime. And thanks to Lt. Watada, this crime will be brought to account.

If you care about the Constitution and you believe in the institutions that created and supported this country's fragile democracy in its earliest years, you should honor Lt. Watada for having the courage to bring this case to trial. He may be wrong, and he may in fact be convicted, but the truth, IMHO, will win out in the end.

I only hope that you will have enough respect for the judicial branch of government to accept their verdict on this incredibly important case. Unfortunately, I fear that the neo-cons have been intentionally slandering judges in a blatant attempt to prejudice their supporters against the very branch that will ultimately hold them accountable. When, and I mean when, agents of the Bush administration finally are charged and convicted for crimes against the Constitution of the United States, I hope you and others like you will have the good sense to respect the judges' decisions.

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Allen said...

I do agree with you that this might be an illegal war. However; Congress gave the chimp in chief the power to attack Iraq.

Yes, most of the elected critters in office were lied to by this administration, used faulty intel, etc.

Why did Lt. Watada join the military if he is a conscientious objector? Common sense dictates a person actions. Seems to me the Lt. has no common sense.

However, the fact remains that he did take an oath of office. Yes, part of that oath is to protect the constitution, part of that oath is to follow orders from higher ranking officers.

I agree with you on Bush trashing the constitution, but this has no part of Lt. Watada's trashing of the oath he took.

Also, I also hope everyone will agree with what decision the legal system issues. As a disabled veteran, I trust a military court more than a civilian one.

As I said before, he should only be tried for not following orders. He should not be tried for "free speech" or any other mickey mouse charges.

Because a person may not agree with your ideas, you automatically brand them a neocon. Excuse me, but I am not a neocon, nor a repug.
And like you, I hope this present admin. does get charged with crimes, and have their day in court, just like the Lt. will be having his day in court. Are you going to cry foul if the Lt. is found guilty and punished?

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Tahoma Activist said...

Sorry to call you a neo-con. I meant to differentiate between you and folks like you and the commentators on television that sold us the War and continue to tell us that the Occupation is perfectly moral and acceptable and must continue. Those folks are the neocons, and they have driven this country into a quagmire that threatens to devastate our entire economy. It's already broken our military and will soon break our treasury.

As for the oath of office, Watada took an oath to defend the Constitution. That trumps everything else. If he feels that legally he would be violating the Constitution to prosecute this war, he must do what he's done to avoid being guilty of war crimes. We did sign several international treaties that expressly forbid this kind of unilateral aggression.

If Watada's case is successful, the Congress will have no choice but to act to end the Occupation and bring our troops home. Seeing as how Bush and Cheney's secret Office of Special Plans created the phony justifications for war, it seems to me that they are really the ones who should be on trial, and not the guys at the bottom, who just want to be able to follow orders. Just orders should be followed, unjust orders should not.

Face it, our President was facing being exposed as the guy who stole the election (New York Times, October 2003) and he was looking at a massive fraud investigation into Enron and Cheney's secret energy task force. September 11th provided him the power to consolidate his stranglehold on the Presidency and the Congress, and allowed him to push forward this war despite the objection of nearly the entire world.

This is exactly what Germany did to Cszechoslovakia in the thirties, and no one stood up to them. If the people within that country had had the guts, and the freedom, to fight back, the rise of Hitler's Third Reich might have been stalled, but instead World War II and the Holocaust engulfed the world in terror.

I believe that every servicemember who has a conscience and who knows the facts can and should stand up too this President, and refuse to serve in Iraq until this conflict is resolved and the citizens of Iraq are repaid for the devastation of their country. If the Supreme Court judges this case, however, it's likely that they will vacate the lower court's decision simply along partisan lines, and this national nightmare will continue to its inevitable conclusion.

I say fight. Stand up wherever you are, despite your "orders". Don't be a good German. Follow Lt. Watada's example, and let's take our country back from this illegitimate, and immoral regime.

We have the power. This is our country, not theirs. We, the People, are the natural sovereigns of this country, and we can decide who goes and who stays. And now it's our turn to stand beside the Lieutenant, to voete for the opposition party in this November's elections, and to keep the pressure on the elections officials to ensure that the outcome is fair and can be proven legitimate.

Then we will say the ouster of Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld, and the Speaker of the House will become President of the United States. And that will be the best thing that's ever happened to this country.

You say Congress gave Bush the power to attack Iraq, but according to the Constitution, only the Congress has the power to declare war. They should declare the President guilty of war crimes and remove him from office, but that will not happen until Democrats take power. And even then, it won't happen unless a majority of us have the courage to demand accountability for this disastrous Occupation. The deaths of over a hundred thousand innocent civilians are on our heads. Let's not make their deaths be in vain. Let's honor their sacrifice by saving our country and theirs from fascism.

Let's bring back the democracy and freedom we all love so much.

Let's follow Lt. Watada into the breach, and pull freedom from the ashes of despair.

We have the power. We are sovereign. And we will be victorious, if we have the guts to take it home.


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