Friday, August 18, 2006

Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)

Thursday the Army launched its campaign against the soldier in his Article 32 hearing. That will decide whether Watada will face court martial. The Army called a single witness, Captain J.C. Kaplan. He testified that Watada missed his June 22nd deployment to Kuwait City on purpose. The prosecution furthered it's argument by showing video clips of Watada condemning the war in Iraq.
Watada's legal team called three expert witnesses to the stand. All challenged the war in Iraq and Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, argued that if it's illegal, soldiers have the right to refuse to serve in it.
"I hope that we demonstrated that we have the capability of mounting a very significant defense here and that this is not going to be a simple process," Seitz told KGMB9 by phone from Washington. "And from the Army's standpoint, they should think very clearly on whether this is something that they want to embark upon."
The Honolulu-born soldier says his decision to leave his fellow soldiers was difficult but clear.
"I felt it was necessary. It was something that I had to do according to my oath to protect this country, to protect this country and to protect those soldiers under my charge," said Watada.
The officer at Thursday's hearing will review the evidence and should issue a report by next week. The commander of the base will evaluate it and recommend whether or not Watada faces court martial.

The above is from Jeff Booth's "Both Sides Fire in Watada Hearing" (KGMB9). We'll stay on this topic for a few more excerpts as we walk through the case via excerpts. We'll start with the prosecution (and note it briefly, we're all aware of it in this community -- read KeShawn's rebuttal to it in this morning's round-robin). They offered one witness giving testimony (Captain J.C. Kaplan) and he spoke of how Ehren Watada did not deploy with his brigade to Iraq. After that the prosecution played MTV offering three video clips of the speech Watada gave to last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech). Picking up with the military's Top 3 Video Countdown, via Mike Barber's "Hearing for soldier who won't serve in Iraq puts war on trial" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) :

One video Kuecker showed came from Watada's appearance only last Saturday at the Veterans for Peace national convention in Seattle.
There, Watada voiced what he called "a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier. It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War -- but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."
Watada spoke of the "wholesale slaughter" of Iraqis and said he did not want to be a party to war crimes by serving there.
Over objections by Kuecker, Keith allowed Seitz and Capt. Mark Kim, Watada's military lawyer, to call three expert witnesses to testify about the war's illegality as justification for Watada's actions:

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert; former United Nations Undersecretary-General Denis Halliday; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright. All three said the war is illegal.

Those were the three witnesses called by Watada's attornies (Eric Seitz and Army Captain Mark Kim). Now noting the defense witnesses. From The Honolulu Advertister's "Army lays case with Watada's own words:"

The first witness for the defense was University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert.
The war in Iraq, Boyle said, is a war against peace because it was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Secondly, he said, Congress approved going to war only after being lied to by the Bush administration about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein having ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"This constitutes ... a conspiracy to defraud the United States government," he said.
Also testifying were Denis Halliday, the former under-secretary of the United Nations, who also served over a number of programs dealing with Iraq, and Ann Wright of Honolulu, a retired colonel who resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2003 over the Iraq war.

Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports. For the third witness, we'll go to
Michael Gilbert's "Witnesses say Watada would have committed war crime by deploying to Iraq" (The News Tribune):

Defense witnesses Thursday said Lt. Ehren Watada had no choice but to refuse orders to go to Iraq if he wanted to avoid complicity in what they called war crimes.
"I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council ... falls into the category of a war of aggression, which is by international law a war crime," said Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest of the war in 2003.
"So by a person saying 'Yes, I’m going to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime."
On that basis, Watada's lawyers argued Thursday he was justified in refusing to board a jet June 22 and join his fellow Fort Lewis soldiers for a year-long deployment in Iraq.

The Article 32 hearing began and ended yesterday. Where does it stand now? From
Hal Bernton's "Iraq war bashed at hearing for soldier who wouldn't go" (Seattle Times):

Lt. Col. Mark Keith, the investigating officer who presided over Thursday's Article 32 hearing, will make a recommendation about whether to proceed with a court-martial.
In response to defense questions, Keith affirmed he was open to considering arguments about the war's legality and allowed Boyle, former United Nations Undersecretary Denis Halliday and retired Col. Ann Wright to speak about the legality and conduct of the war.

Eric Seitz has publicly stated he expects that the decision will be to proceed with a court martial. What that would mean (and Watada's thoughts) are in the next excerpt,
Gregg K. Kakesako's "Watada expresses no regrets as hearing begins" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):

If convicted, Watada could face more than seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. The 1996 Kalani High School graduate faces charges of missing a movement. He also is charged with contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.
In a phone interview after the hearing, Watada continued to assert that the war in Iraq is both illegal and immoral.
"I would not have done it differently," the 28-year-old artillery soldier said about his decision not to go to Iraq. "I am at peace with my decision."

Now turning to the illegal war itself, in this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave's "7 Killed as Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting Rages in Baghdad" offers a rundown of some of the reported events

South of Baghdad, an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol, the United States military said in a statement.
West of Baghdad, in an area rife with Sunni Arab insurgents, the police said a man had been killed and two of his sons wounded when gunmen fired at him as he waited in line at a gas station. In a similar incident, gunmen killed one man and wounded two others near a gas station in Yarmuk.
A suicide bomber in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur blew up his vehicle as a police patrol passed, wounding five people, including three policemen, an Interior Ministry official said. At a supermarket nearby, an unidentified body was found handcuffed and showing signs of torture.
[. . .]
The United States military announced that a soldier had died from "enemy action" on Wednesday in Anbar Province, where American troops regularly fight fierce battles with Sunni insurgents.
In a rural area of Babil Province, south of Baghdad, Iraqi Army soldiers discovered three kidnapped police officers in the trunk of a car after clashing with gunmen at a checkpoint, according to an American military statement. The freed officers said two other officers had been abducted and taken away in vehicles.
Even as the violence continued, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, speaking at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Slovakia just a few hours after the Sadr City bombing, insisted that Iraqi forces were ready to take over security for most of the country.

There is more in the report worth noting but I've tried to note the events he's covering that we didn't catch in the snapshot yesterday. And al-Maliki was included for transition to Martha's highlight, Amit R. Paley's "Premier Calls Iraqi Forces Ready to Extend Control" (Washington Post):

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday that Iraqi forces were prepared to take over security in most provinces if the U.S. military withdraws, as at least 23 Iraqis and an American soldier were killed in violence across the country.
The bloodshed, which included a car bomb in Baghdad that killed at least eight people, came as U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to thwart the growing sectarian violence engulfing the country.
The U.S.-led military coalition has set no timetable for removing troops from Iraq, but Maliki said in a statement that Iraqis "have become capable of taking over security tasks in the majority of the provinces and that they will be able to fill the vacuum in case the Multi-National Forces withdraw."
Iraqi forces have taken full military control of only one province so far -- Muthanna, in a relatively calm area of southern Iraq -- but Maliki said they would soon take security responsibility of the area around Diwaniyah, in Qadisiyah province.

And, as British community members noted yesterday morning, the sunny view given of how capable the Iraqi troops are is at odds with reality. At odds with reality? Yes, quickly, the Bully Boy. West notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Contemplates Rebirth of Dictatorship for Iraq" (This Just In, The Progressive):

There was a big clue planted at the bottom of the very long lead article in The New York Times of August 17.
That story noted the alarming rise in insurgent attacks against American and Iraqi forces.
The number of IEDs in July was 2,625, just about twice what it was back in January, when Zarqawi was still prowling around.
Clearly, his death did nothing to slow the pace down or snuff out the insurgency.
The shelf life of Bush propaganda is only about one week these days.
But back to the clue.
The last three paragraphs of this story revealed that "senior administration officials . . . are considering alternatives other than democracy," according to a military expert who was just briefed at the White House.
Hmmm, "alternatives other than democracy."
My, what can those be?
Monarchy? Dictatorship?

The illegal, warrantless spying by the Bully Boy was slapped down yesterday. Oliver says skip the press reports and go to Wally and Cedric's joint entry. Also Betty's "A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does" went up Wednesday and is one of the many things needing noting (thanks to Doug and Susan who both e-mailed this morning to remind me).

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