Watada joins 10 other members of the U.S. military who - as a matter of conscience - have refused to either go to Iraq or to return there and have been court-martialed for their actions. Two are currently in prison for their stands. In addition, over 200 U.S. military personnel have gone to Canada to avoid being sent to Iraq, nine of whom have gone public with their war resistance. There are over 6,400 U.S. military are absent without leave (AWOL), while thousands who have returned from AWOL have been given administrative discharges instead of courts-martial. The military has not provided information on whether those who have turned themselves in were AWOL due to opposition to the war.
For Watada and those other military volunteers who have chosen to go public with their dissent from the war on Iraq, the path of conscience is not easy. By their actions, they challenge an administration whose policy of aggressive, pre-emptive war has placed those volunteers, the institution of the U.S. military and the nation itself in danger.
Refusing to obey an illegal order is a time-honored tradition in the U.S. military, but that refusal carries incredible risk. If the order is found by a military board of inquiry to be lawful, then the soldier is will be brought before a military court for trial.
Watada's public refusal to deploy to Iraq puts the military panel who will sit in judgment of his actions in a dilemma. The military has extraordinarily talented military lawyers who are well-versed in the laws of land warfare, the Geneva and Hague conventions and the Nuremberg principles. Indeed, military lawyers were the strongest opponents of the decision by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to throw out internationally agreed to protections for prisoners of war and instead create a new, illegal term called "enemy combatants." This legally meaningless phrase provides no protections for those detained on the battlefield and jeopardizes U.S. military personnel who end up in the hands of opponents. Now, these military lawyers must decide whether protection of an administration's illegal war of aggression is more important to the national security of the United States than recognition that, by the Nuremberg principles, military and civilians have a responsibility to stop their governments from committing illegal acts.
The above is from Ann Wright's "To Refuse To Serve" (Truthout) (noted by Brad). You can find more on Watada at ThankYouLt.org and Courage to Resist. Yesterday, actions took place around the country. That's step one. Of course the New York Times has no report on those actions. Molly notes Mike Barber and Jon Naito's "Activists rally for soldier who won't go: More than 100 show support for Lt. Watada on I-5 near Fort Lewis" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer):
Next to this Army base where troops are folding their flags and preparing to leave for Iraq, more than 100 people gathered Tuesday to unfurl their banners to honor one soldier who refuses to go: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.
They stood with signs -- many simply saying, "Thank You, Lt. Watada" -- on the bridge at Exit 119 over Interstate 5 to show their support for the officer whose very public refusal to go to Iraq and opposition to the war has galvanized the peace movement.
"We needed something to light a fire under our asses," said Julie Evans, 30, of Olympia. "Can you imagine the courage it took for him? It's amazing."
Watada, 28, remains behind the gates at Fort Lewis, confined there since Thursday when he would not join his battalion to fly to Iraq. It is part of a Stryker Brigade of nearly 4,000 soldiers.
Turning to the paper of little to no record, Sabrina Tavernise and John F. Burns' "Iraqi Says Attacks on U.S. Won't Be Pardoned:"
Insurgent violence on Tuesday claimed the lives of 21 Iraqis and 2 American servicemen, and wounded an additional 41 people. The American military also announced the deaths of 2 service members killed Monday in fighting in Anbar Province.
And that's really about all to offer today. Panning for fool's gold, we get a paragraph worth noting. Five corpses were found dumped in Baghdad yesterday, and with that and more, we'll note Kim Gamel's "U.S. says Baghdad crackdown moving slowly" (Associated Press):
The U.S. military issued a sober assessment Tuesday of the Baghdad security crackdown, saying violence had decreased slightly but not to "the degree we would like to see" in the two weeks since 75,000 Iraqi and American troops flooded the capital.
[. . .]
A suicide car bomb struck a busy gas station in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least three people and wounding 17.
• A parked car packed with explosives blew up at an open-air market in a Shiite section of Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Dora neighborhood, killing three people and wounding 10, police said.
*A university professor was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad's upscale Mansour neighborhood. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Studies said it will stage a sit-in at all universities Wednesday to protest kidnappings and violence against its employees.
*Gunmen ambushed a convoy carrying a tribal leader in Dujail, north of Baghdad, killing him and four drivers.
*A tribal chief in the southeastern town of Amarah was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt. Sheik Kadim al-Sebahawi's 22-year-old son died in the attack.
Martha notes Joshua Partlow and Bassam Sebti's "Amnesty To Exclude Killers of GIs, Iraqis" (Washington Post):
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed Tuesday that no one who has killed Americans or Iraqis would be pardoned under his government's national reconciliation plan.
"The fighter who did not kill anyone will be included in the amnesty, but the fighter who killed someone will not be," Maliki said in his first interview with Western print reporters since he became prime minister last month. "This is an international commitment, an ethical commitment: Whoever kills is not included in amnesty."
[. . .]
In the two days since Maliki set forth the outline of his reconciliation plan during a speech in parliament, response from Iraq's Sunni Arab minority has been disparate. Some elder Sunni politicians, such as Adnan al-Dulaimi, as well as the Sunni Endowment, the government body that oversees Sunni mosques and religious affairs, have endorsed the plan.
In addition, Maliki said, seven insurgent groups have expressed through a third party their desire to enter in discussions with the government. Maliki declined to name the groups.
Rod passes on today's scheduled topic for Democracy Now!:
Ahmed Rashid & Christian Parenti discuss recent developments in Afghanistan.
There's a second entry and it will go up shortly. (Carl, the thing you passed on will be the lead.) The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.