Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ehren Watada's standing, are you?

We excerpt from Truth Out fairly regularly because they do cover the Iraq war. (A shocker these days.) Today, one day before Ehren Watada faces the start of his Article 32 hearing (his attorney is expecting it to last two days), Courage to Resist and have called for "a National Day of Education."

Carolyn Ho (Ehren Watada's mother) has a letter at Truth Out and we'll note some of it:

Dear Fellow Americans and Citizens of the International Community,
I am the mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, an officer stationed at Ft. Lewis. He was part of a Stryker brigade unit that deployed to Iraq on June 22nd. On that fateful day, he quietly defied the movement order and chose not to board the plane with his men. Despite unrelenting pressure to conform from the day he submitted his request for discharge (in January 2006) to the day of deployment, he remained true to his conviction. He believed that he could support his men best by not leading them into an illegal war and occupation that had already claimed countless Iraqi and American lives. He believed that he could serve them by taking a stand against the war rather than an being an accomplice in a policy that uses our troops for immoral, unethical purposes.
Through rigorous scrutiny of the facts, gleaned through research and consultation with experts, inside and outside of the military and the structures of government, he concluded that he could no longer be silent while atrocities were committed in the name of democracy. He could no longer be a tool of an administration that used nothing but deception and lies to make the case for pre-emptive war. He realized that he had not relinquished the freedom to choose what is right and that the freedom to choose what is right transcends the allegiance to man and institutions.
As an officer, his duty is to support and defend the US Constitution, against enemies foreign and domestic, and to obey only lawful orders. In refusing to deploy to Iraq, Lt. Watada fulfilled his duty. In response, the military charged him with missing movement, contemptuous remarks against the president and behavior unbecoming to an officer. Taken together, these charges amount to 7 years in a military prison.
As a mother, I have taken the first step in "a journey of a thousand miles." My son's decision raised to my awareness the disconnect between what I had taught him and what I was really willing to have him do. Initially, the moment of truth stared me down, and I honestly could not find words to justify that self-centered, protective response that whispered, "Not my son…. Let someone else's son be a hero." Needless to say, this experience became a life-changing event. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the course my son has chosen. He has my unconditional support.
I invite you to affirm your support of Lt. Ehren Watada now, during his pre-trial hearing on Aug 17th and 18th, and into the future. Whether or not he is permitted to submit evidence supporting his refusal to deploy and his first amendment rights remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the military must know that the world is watching and that justice must be served.

They need to know the world is watching. Some people are doing their part, for instance
Joan notes Robert Shikina's "Watada backers rally before hearing" (The Honolulu Advertiser):

The pre-trial hearing for Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who two months ago refused to deploy to Iraq, begins tomorrow in Fort Lewis, Wash.
During Watada's Article 32 hearing, an investigative officer will determine if the evidence is sufficient to proceed to a court-martial. Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, said the hearing will include testimony from three witnesses for Watada and one witness for the Army.
"My expectation is they're going to act on it relatively quickly, and I will be getting a call next week from a military judge who wants to set up dates for a trial," Seitz said.

Also covering the issue, Gregg K. Kakesako's "Pro-Watada group gathers: The Army officer's attorney plans to call three witnesses" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):

As he faces the possibility of being the first Army officer to face a court-martial for refusing to fight in Iraq, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada knows he has the backing of plenty of people.
Yesterday, a diverse group of church clergy and representatives gathered before the Father Damien statue at the state Capitol to express their support for the 28-year-old Army officer.
And when Watada faces a pretrial Article 32 hearing in a small Fort Lewis courtroom in Washington State tomorrow, he's expected to have 188 letters of support from clergy, combat veterans and organizations throughout the United States, including support from as far as Australia. The hearing will help Army officers decide whether to recommend a court martial.
Among those who gathered in front of Father Damien's statue were clergy and church representatives from the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii; Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist Mission; United Methodist Church; Kahaluu United Methodist Church; Honpa Hongwanji Betsuin; Hawaii Inclusive Orthodox Church; Muslim Association of Hawaii; United Church of Christ; and First Unitarian Church.

That's a lengthy list. But this community is fully aware that supporters or facts don't translate into "coverage." We'll probably get more rounds of Lieberman today and Watada will lose out as various rush to weigh in on what they're sure is the must-write op-ed of the day. Ehren Watada's case matters but 'mattering' hasn't been enough (as we all know) to get coverage of many topics lately (from media big and small). So let's go to Cedric Moon's "Watada vs. U.S. Army, Round 1" (KGMB):

Friends and family say he's a decorated soldier.
But on Thursday, in an Article 32 hearing, a military court will decide if Hawai'i-born Lieutenant Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq, putting his military service and freedom in serious jeopardy. He faces 6 counts, including conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt that could lead to him being court-martialed.
He and his supporters say he has good reasons to fight those charges. The Army is trying to prove he doesn't.
"It was a very tough decision for me to make and not one that I made lightly," Watada said in June at his Fort Lewis, Washington Army post when he decided to defy his orders and not deploy to Iraq.
"The Army has chosen a confrontation," said his attorney, Eric Seitz, prior to leaving for Fort Lewis. "So, we'll be on their turf."

And the issue is will you be silent? You can count on a lot of people being silent, it's a given. Probably something happened on cable last night (with all the channels, something had to happen). Or there will be some other event to talk about or comment on. This is what we need to spend some of our time focusing on today (and we can do that -- while all things media big and small lost interest in Iraq, we continued to focus).

We'll again note Gregg K. Kakesako's "Experts prepare for Watada case" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- we noted it yesterday):

Seitz said conviction could lead to a maximum jail sentence of 7 1/2 years, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. A hearing officer will determine if Watada will face a court-martial.
An artillery officer with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Watada has been reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps.
Since the beginning of the year, Watada has offered to resign his Army commission three times, and has said he would accept a dishonorable discharge and reprimand rather than face a court-martial. He said that he is not a conscientious objector and would be willing to serve a combat assignment in Afghanistan.

Elaine's "Two days before Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing" focusing on the power that we have if we use it. So let's use our power today to get the word out and raise awareness. The war's not going to end on it's own. Bully Boy has no intention to end it. "Adapt and Win" is the new laughable phrase that someone earned a few pennies for coining.

It's replacing "Stay the course" (aka drive the car off the cliff). "Adapt and Win" is a not-so-clever twist on a rallying cry of business (that actually harkens to Darwin so it's rather amazing that Bully Boy would be pushing it). In that phrase, the original, you find the truth: Adapt or Die. That's what Bully Boy is again telling the world. First, he strutted and said "Bring 'em on." And Iraqis and American troops have been the ones who have had to deal with the fall out from his boast. (He, on the other hand, went back to eating sweets -- thereby explaining the extra pounds in his yearly physical.) Now he's saying "Adapt and Win" when the reality is "Adapt or Die." It won't be him dying. It won't be his children. From his zone of comfort, he waves a hand and says "Adapt or Die" -- translation, it's your problem. It's not his problem.

He's perfectly content to allow the fatalities and casualities to continue to climb. An administration that lied a nation into war with a plethora of lies including "cakewalk" talk isn't bothered by the continued increase in the loss of lives for Iraqis or by the American toll (Saturday, AP announced that American troop fatalities passed the 2600 mark -- not that anyone made much out of that number for the most part). (2604 is the toll currently.)

What's it going to take to end the war? People standing up and saying "No." Watada's standing up. If you're serious about ending the war, you need to stand with him.

Things are only getting worse in Iraq. More deaths will mount. Violence and chaos continue and
Martha notes Ann Scott Tyson's "Strife Moving Out From Baghdad to Villages: Shiites, Sunnis Vie for Control of Diyala Province" (Washington Post):

Mortar attacks that erupted last month between Sunni and Shiite villages around Khan Bani Sad are part of a complex power struggle in the demographically mixed province of Diyala, a contested area stretching from Baghdad to Iran. Sunni fighters are trying to push Shiite families out of the region, while Shiite militiamen from Baghdad are moving in aggressively to attack Sunnis and expand their turf, the officials say.
U.S. commanders had planned on withdrawing hundreds of American troops from this province, but instead this month they ordered an increase in troop levels to help stem the spread of sectarian violence.

[. . .]
Attacks in Diyala have more than doubled since last summer, with more than 60 percent now directed at Iraqi civilians. Thousands of Shiite and Sunni residents have fled their neighborhoods after receiving death threats, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

These days, even the Green Zone is under serious attack (three rockets fired at it on Sunday -- only one hit -- injuring four Australian troops). For over three years this illegal war has dragged on. Bully Boy's not going to stop it. We can. If we all do our part.

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