Thursday, November 16, 2006
Ehren Watada on CNN last night
A University of Iowa graduate student and veteran of the Iraq War, appeared via satellite from the Lindquist Center in Iowa City on the CNN show "Paula Zahn Now" on Wednesday.
Joshua Casteel, 26, who was honorably discharged from the military on moral grounds in May 2005, sat on a three-person panel discussing a case involving Army Capt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. military officer to refuse deployment on legal grounds.
"He is a bright and shining star. He is the only example of just war tradition amongst the officer corps in the U.S.," Casteel said. "He is sworn to uphold the constitution ... even if the president himself is a threat to the constitution."
The above is from Iowa City Press Citizen's "UI graduate student sits in on CNN panel." From the Iowa Gazette's "UI conscientious objector on Zahn show:"
"Every age needs moral leaders,'' said Casteel, a Cedar Rapids native. "Right now, there are plenty of examples of physical courage, but almost no examples of moral courage. I think history will look at Capt. Watada as an example of moral leadership in a very immoral age.''
Casteel sits on the board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War, a non-profit, non-partisan organization pushing immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, full veterans' benefits for returning soldiers and war reparations to help Iraq rebuild.
From the transcript for CNN's Paula Zahn Now:
ZAHN: Lieutenant, as you well know, some of your fellow soldiers say the reason you don't want to go to Iraq is that you're afraid of getting killed. What's your response to them?
WATADA: Well, I'm sure everybody's afraid of getting killed. Everybody's -- I'm sure everybody doesn't want to go to prison either. Everybody doesn't want to do a lot of things. But we have to go back to what we took an oath to do. And that was to protect and defend our country against all enemies, and that includes those within our country who seek to undermine our laws, who seek to violate the laws and basically hold themselves unaccountable and do whatever they want. And that is not America. That is not democracy. And up until this point, I think we have seen a government that is -- has run itself and has been unaccountable to no one.
ZAHN: all right. Let me ask you this in closing, because we're going to have a couple of people who will take a great issue coming up in our panel with what you've just said. But some of your critics also charge that you're nothing more than the pawn of the anti-war movement, and that you're getting used, and you're being naive about your own fight here.
WATADA: Well, if that was the case, you know, almost every other day since I spoke out publicly, there have been people who have approached me -- just ordinary people -- nobody with the activists, anti-war movement, people in uniform, many soldiers, active duty of all ranks, have written me, have come up to me and given me their support and their respect for what I've done.
Zahn then goes to a panel made up of Casteel, Amy Goodman and the White man who needs to stop wearing Mommy's pantyhose on his head and also needs to stop attempting to pass as "anti-war" since he is nothing of the sort and again demonstrates it whenever he opens his uninformed mouth. Here's a section (skipping the idiot):
JOSHUA CASTEEL, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Well, Paula, [Mommy's Pantyhose], Lieutenant Watada and myself, we all took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And the Uniform Code of Military Justice tells us two things. One is that we have an obligation to obey all lawful orders, but we also have an obligation to disobey all unlawful orders, and -- which includes disobeying orders that are unlawful, even if they come from the President of the United States. Article Six, Paragraph Two of the United States Constitution dictates that treaties that the United States signs on to are to be considered the laws of the land, including among them, the Hague Convention on Land Warfare of 1899, the Nuremberg Principles, which in 1953, the Department of Defense declared to be official policy. And Justice Jackson, who's the chief...
ZAHN: All right.But fast forward to today. So you're saying he's justified, based on these precedents?
CASTEEL: Absolutely. He is one of the few examples of moral courage that we have in the midst of plenty of individuals who show physical courage to go to Iraq and sacrifice for their country. But what we need tight now are moral leaders. And Lieutenant Watada is an example of the kind of leadership that reminds us of our better nature and the aspirations of the United States Constitution. ZAHN: What kind of impact does his case have on the military? I mean, we heard Paul arguing quite forcefully that when you sign these papers and you make this commitment, you don't get to pick or choose what war you fight in.
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, "DEMOCRACY NOW": Well, Paula, this is extremely significant. Thousands of soldiers are saying no. The Pentagon doesn't like to talk about this, but Lieutenant Erhen Watada being the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq is very significant. I was with him at Seattle at Town Hall. More than a thousand people were there. When he stood up, the applause was thunderous. He had just been hit with the fourth charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. You have to ask, if we lived in a just society, who would be charged with conduct unbecoming?
On Mommy's Pantyhose, as noted in last month's book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review:
In chapter fourteen, "Anti-Warriors," there's the inclusion on page 224 of someone who doesn't belong in any chapter entitled anti-warriors. The man has a new group but there's not anyone who remembers 2004 and much of 2005 and doesn't remember the former "I know, I was there," who was all over the media landscape, when voices of real war resistance couldn't get the time of day, maintaining that the US needed to 'stay the course' and offering that inspid -- and false -- Pottery Barn comparison. He was not, is not, an anti-warrior and doesn't belong in any chapter with that heading. As Elaine's noted, he also needs to take Mommy's pantyhose off his head but, my opinion, he thinks it makes him look like Silas in Platoon. Anyone who was against the war in 2004 knows damn well he not only shouted others down, not only trashed CODEPINK, but he and his organization were given a non-stop platform by Air America Radio and allowed to speak 'the truth, we were there' at a time when others weren't allowed on. He and his group, just him until Unfiltered listeners really turned on him -- at which point, he began bringing in others to speak for his group, were given a weekly segment called "Ask a Vet." And they all said, "Continue to the war." Over and over, week after week. There was no weekly "Ask an Activist" segment nor was there any attempt to provide a space for vets who were against the war. He doesn't belong in the book's chapter. I think he's had more than enough of a platform to offer his crackpot ideas. He didn't have answers in 2004, he didn't have answers in 2005. Now that the American people have turned against the war he wants to restyle himself. He can't. Not with the people who had to listen to his garbage on a weekly basis and he doesn't belong in a chapter called "Anti-warriors." He was a warrior, a proud warrior, advocating for further war. When on air with Larry Benksy to promote his book that didn't sell, he repeatedly referred to another guest on the panel -- one who was a vet against the war -- as "Your caller." He's a snide, little, hateful man and, to repeat, he doesn't belong in any chapter entitled "Anti-warriors." The fact that he was included in it will leave a bad taste in every community members' mouth. It's not a minor point and it's not a minor point to the anti-war movement of which he is not a part and has never been one. He was there to slam CODEPINK, in all his outlets, he wasn't there to kick start the movement. He is one of the reasons that protests were clamped down upon because, with his status as 'a vet' and with the status that Air America Radio elevated him to, with that lousy nonstop commercial, the 'continue the war' voices were given a platform, a weekly one in the case of Unfiltered, while the voices saying "Stop the war" were not given such a platform and usually found themselves, I'm speaking of the morning shows, cut off mid-sentence or apologized for after they were off the line or out of the studio.
Anyone who didn't get why Mommy's Pantyhose doesn't need to be included in a chapter called "anti-warriors" need only look at the transcript from last month's show. Little boys who can't call out the war are not "anti-warriors," they're just little boys trying to look tought while slapping Mommy's pantyhose on top of their heads.
We'll close with Gregg K. Kakesako's "Lt. Watada defends his war stance on CNN" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin):
When asked if he was just "a pawn of the anti-war movement," Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, replied, "Almost every day since I spoke out publicly, there have been people who have approached me -- just ordinary people -- nobody from the activists or anti-war movement. People in uniform and many soldiers -- active-duty soldiers from all ranks -- have written to me and come up to me and have given me their support and their respect for what I have done."
The Army announced this month it will court-martial Watada for failing to join his unit on June 22 when it left Fort Lewis, Wash., for Iraq, and for conduct unbecoming an officer.
Watada was a member of Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, when he was ordered to Iraq. He has been reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps.
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gregg k. kakesako