A patriotic Eagle Scout who had hoped to make the Army his career, 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada says the war in Iraq is illegal and that he will not deploy with his Fort Lewis unit when it leaves in two weeks.
Watada, who turns 28 today, did not tell his mother he had joined the Army until after he signed enlistment papers in March 2003 just before he graduated from Hawaii Pacific University. He reported for boot camp in June.
The 1996 Kalani High School graduate said he enlisted because "I felt the pull of duty, service and patriotism" following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Watada, an artillery officer, said even after enlisting he did not believe that "an invasion was fully justified, but I believed the president's claims should be given a benefit of doubt. At that time, I never imagined that our leader could betray the trust of the people over something as serious as war."
Watada could face up to five years in jail and a dishonorable discharge if he is convicted at a court-martial for failing to join his 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Regiment, unit when it begins leaving for Iraq on June 23.
In a phone interview from Fort Lewis, Wash., Watada said his actions are now closely monitored. "My supervisors have been told to report me as 'failure to report' even if I am a minute late and to report me immediately."
The above is from Gregg K. Kakesako's "Watada could face prison and discharge for defiance" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) and Joan noted it. And the New York Times?
They can't be bothered with news or reality, they've got a war to sell.
Joan also notes Kakesako's "Watada: Like father, like son:"
More than four decades ago, Bob Watada, who lost a brother fighting in Korea, opposed the war in Vietnam.
Instead of running off to Canada, Watada approached his draft board in Colorado and was allowed to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in Peru.
He believed the Vietnam War was illegal.
Now his son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, has announced he will not serve in Iraq for the same reason.
The elder Watada said even after spending two years in the Peace Corps, the Pentagon tried to draft him when he returned home, but he did not have to serve because he was able to enter graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado.
Watada, former executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission, said he had many discussions about Iraq with his son before the younger Watada enlisted in 2003 -- the same month the U.S. invaded Iraq.
"He knew that I had been given the option by the draft board to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in Peru," the elder Watada said. "He also knew I had a brother who died in Korea and what his death meant to the family."
He spoke yesterday at a state Capitol news conference that was supposed to include a telephone hookup with his son. However, Lt. Watada was ordered not to talk to the media while on duty, so he did not participate.
Cindy notes Keith Eldridge's "Fort Lewis Soldier Says He'll Refuse To Go To Iraq" (KOMO4 News via Common Dreams):
Lt. Watada asked for reassignment and tried resigning his commission, but the Army refused. His attorney tells us from Hawaii that Watada is not against all wars, just this one.
"I've been doing this for nearly 40 years and I'm somewhat astounded that in the context of a war that is becoming increasing unpopular that they are relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues," said attorney Eric Seitz from Hawaii.
[. . .]
Anti-war protestors, many of which demonstrated at the Port of Olympia recently, are rushing to his aid. They have put up a Web site believing he's the first commissioned officer to refuse to go.
[. . .]
For More Information:
From CBS and the AP's "Army Officer Refuses Iraq Duty: Calls Iraq An Unjust War, Army Refuses To Accept His Resignation:"
During a videotaped speech played at a press conference in Tacoma, Wash., Watada said, "My participation will make me party to war crimes."
"I feel that we have been lied to and betrayed by this administration," Watada said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Seattle Times 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."
His attorney, Eric A. Seitz, says Watada submitted a letter to his command in January stating he had serious reservations about the Iraq war and felt he could not participate in it. Seitz says a few months later, at the Army's suggestion, Watada resubmitted his request to resign.
"They took their time," says Seitz, "but then they informed him in early May that they were not going to let him resign."
According to KOMO-TV in Seattle, Watada wrote in a letter that he refuses to watch families torn apart while the president tells America to "stay the course." Watada's father, who is from Hawaii, says his son -- who turns 28 on Thursday -- is taking a bold step and he is proud of him.
A number of highlights are in the inbox. Most of which aren't "news." Not at this site. They're worth a sentence (Poppy tried to oust Bully Boy!), not when you've got someone taking a stand. It's about priorities. The New York Times is to sell the war and offer nonsense about how things could change or might change or would have changed or blah, blah, blah ___ blah. Watada is news at this site.
Rod passes on today's scheduled topic on Democracy Now!:
Famed anti-war and anti-nuclear activist Father Daniel Berrigan in our Firehouse Studio.
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gregg k. kakesako