<\body> Stories in America: Support Lt. Watada

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Support Lt. Watada

On August 17th, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, will appear before a military court, for the first hearing of a case that raises core Constitutional issues about the legality of the Iraq war, freedom of speech, and the limits of presidential power.

Watada's civilian counsel, Eric A. Seitz of Honolulu, will call expert witnesses including former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday, University of Illinois Professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert, and U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.) to support Lt. Watada's contentions that the invasion of Iraq violated domestic and international law and that high level policies and rules of engagement permit, encourage, and condone the commission of war crimes in Iraq.

Watada announced his intention to refuse to deploy to Iraq in June, explaining "It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we're doing over there is illegal."

He has since 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, Lt. Watada faces over seven years in confinement. He faces over five years imprisonment for simply expressing his opinion that President Bush misled the American people into an illegal war. On August 17th he will appear for an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury hearing.

"The defense will prove not only that what Lt. Watada said about the war is true, but that as an officer in the United States Army he was duty bound to learn the truth about this war and having done so to refuse to carry out orders to participate in it," Seitz said.


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