Monday, February 05, 2007  

Watch this carefully...

Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Iraq, is being court-martialed today for refusal to go. He is being charged with failure to deploy and two accounts of "unbecoming of an officer." Two previous charges were recently dropped - in part, I suspect, because they hinged on interviews he had given several journalists, namely Sarah George and Dahr Jamail. George had been subpoenaed by the prosecution, and was facing a decision- testify or go to jail and was intending to probably do the latter when those charges were suddenly dropped.
Watada has been discussed here before with comparison being made with the Courage to Resist movement in Israel.
Here is what the LA Times had to say today:
First Lt. Ehren Watada is giving it all back and, out of courtesy, packing it up. The Army had treated him with the utmost respect until the moment it decided to court-martial him. It was nothing personal. The Army does what it has to do.

Just as Watada himself did what he felt he had to do seven months ago when he became the first — and only — commissioned officer in the United States to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq.

His conscience, he said, had overtaken him. He told the world what he had privately told his superiors months earlier: that he believed the war was illegal and immoral, and he would play no role in it.

Watada tried to resign; the Army respectfully denied him. He said he was willing to fight in Afghanistan; the Army refused him again — a soldier can't pick and choose where he fights. As his unit shipped off to Iraq, Watada stayed to face the consequences.

(read the rest here)
Watada is a man of courage and conviction, and a voice that speaks for many who dare not. As the Bush juggernaut rolls ever more resolutely towards Iran, I think we should hope that more officers and other enlisted personnel like Watada stand up. Unfortunately, a desperate DOD needs an example to head off a potential defection, and so I think Watada will end up being convicted of failure to deploy, at the very least.

Hi Zazou,
Just a note to say it's GREAT to see another blogger posting about Ehren. I have been inside the courtroom for the last two days now and will be going tomorrow to hear Ehren's testimony, his only witness, and closing testimony before I fly back to LA, If being in that courtroom has taught me one thing, it's that the reporters that they send a) don't know hardly a thing about the case b) don't realize how important the case is and don't put the effort into covering properly as they should. 3) need to get more sleep at night so they aren't putting their heads down and falling asleep 4) Need to LISTEN and report accurately. I'm going to post about it myself once I find out it's ok for me to write about it publically and I won't get into hot water!!!
Hi Robin,

I'm delighted to hear from you! As a frelance journalist, and someone who knows both Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail, I was appalled at the blatant attempt to intimidate the independent press- one of the few journalistic voices left in the US. I agree that this is a very important case- one has only to look to the Courage to Resist movemtn in Israel - in which 100's of enlisted officers and soldiers have refused to serve in an offensive occupation to see what such an act of resistance on Watada's part might engender. On the other hand, it is very interesting that Watada refuses to be seen as a conscientious objector- and in that light- he is an ideological descendent of the Heart Mountain Resisters or the "No-no Boys" who refused to fight for the US in WWII as long as their families (many US citizens) were interned as "enemy aliens" and others.

Please let me know when you post and I will be very happy to cross post. Give my best to all at the hearing, especially Medea Benjamin if she is there andlet us hope that the outcome is decent and just.
Hi Zazou,
I had my laptop (which I barely know how to use since it has that new Microsoft Vista program) in the courtroom today when basically all hell broke lose and a mistrial was declared. I wrote every word down as best I could, with indications of who said what. It was VERY interesting because I was sitting in the back row as opposed to the front row to get a plug. The darn word program was printing on my screen in GIANT letters and the "security" military were directly in back of me. Needless to say I thought they would come take away my new toy any minute. I need to figure out how to get it over to my blog (with a little help from my neighbor). The press and the "invited guests" shared one room, split down the middle. Yesterday we were asked to leave and the press was given a "briefing/scolding" They were told they could NOT talk to the "activists", or go eat at the same place we were eating. If they were seen doing this any more they would lose their press passes and be booted out. (one "indy" had the guts to pass the word to us) Then today, when the mistrial was about to be announced (during a recess), an attorney in our group was outside with all of us surrounding explaining to us in laymen's term's what had just happened. Out came the JAG men and told him to keep it "neutral" (whatever the heck that means) or he would have to cease and decease altogether or HE would be asked to leave. Dahr Jamail avoided the subpoena from what Eric Seitz told me and of course Ehren stipulated to save Sara Olsen and Greg Kakasaka from being subpoened and in return got two charges unbecoming dropped. Today's mistrial was an absolute whirlwind. My friend's plane was at 5:30 so I had to take them to Sea-Tac and we missed Eric Seitz's media briefing afterwards. Let me tell you one thing, what is being said in the media is very much "tweeked" Today after the mistrial was declared, the press again was kept behind and we were asked to PROMPTLY leave. They got another "briefing" from the Fort Lewis thugs and you can only imagine what went on behind closed doors. VERY interesting!! (ps, I am NOT a journalist, just an activist who was interested in taking my new "toy" to break it in :) )

Hi Zazou. Those are the notes from Wednesday's mistrial. I consulted an attorney connected to the case and she said it was a public court marshall and therefor anyone taking notes openly which we all were should not get into any trouble.
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