Friday, January 05, 2007

And justice for none?

At a hearing Thursday at Fort Lewis, there was little dispute about the action taken by 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who last June refused to deploy with his brigade to Iraq. But defense and prosecutors sparred much of the afternoon about whether Watada's motives for opting out of the war should affect the outcome of a February court-martial trial that could result in a six-year prison term.
Watada says he believes the war is illegal and he was duty-bound not to fight. The defense seeks to introduce evidence to prove that belief.

[. . .]
Within the next week, military Judge Lt. Col. John Head is expected to issue a written decision on whether to hold a special hearing on evidence about the U.S. conduct of the war. At Thursday's hearing, he appeared troubled by the prospect of putting the war on trial in his courtroom.
"Where do I have the authority, and where is the case law that gives me the authority to discuss -- to consider -- whether the war in Iraq, or any war for that matter, is lawful?" Head asked.

The above is from Hal Bernton's "Lawyers: Does Watada's motive matter?" (Seattle Times) which Molly labels as "the fix is in." She's referring to the prospect of holding a trial without ever examining the defendant's motive. Now there are courts that do that, they're called kangroo courts and no one makes the mistake of assuming justice can be found in any of them.
Joan notes "Watada Supporters Vocal at Today's Hearing" from Hawaii's KMGB:

Ehren Watada didn't say much after the hearing.
"I'm sorry at this time I am not going to make any comments", he said.
But his supporters here at home had a lot to say.
"This is an illegal and an immoral war", said Watada Supporter Carolyn Hadfield. "And it's a just and courageous thing to refuse to go.".
But that's an argument Watada may never be able to make in his court martial proceedings. That's because when his attorney asked permission to submit evidence at trial that the war is illegal and the judge's response was less than favorable.
Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, said, "He indicated to us that he is not very persuaded and that it is unlikely he is going to allow us to pursue those defenses at trial."

And Martha notes Linton Weeks' "A Mother Fights for a Soldier Who Said No to War" (Washington Post -- this ran Thursday):

Carolyn Ho is a mother on a mission.
She came to Washington in mid-December to build support for her son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.

Barring some kind of miracle, he will be court-martialed on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis, about 45 miles south of Seattle. If convicted, he could be sent to military prison for six years. There's going to be a pretrial hearing today.
Like many Americans, she believed she could come to the capital city and change the world. Or at least her small part of it.
She was acting purely on instinct, wanting to do everything in a mother's power to protect her son. "I'm here to get what I can," said Ho, who is from Honolulu. Dark hair pulled back. Dark eyes that moisten when she speaks of her son. Soft voice. "I'm going to put it out there."
At the very least, she hoped for some kind of letter of support before today's hearing. Late yesterday afternoon, a letter arrived. After a lot of worry and work.
Lobbying Congress is no day at the spa.
During her Capitol Hill quest, she was accompanied by several seasoned lobbyists, but they let her do the talking. She moved along the halls, sitting down with staffers in the offices of Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and aides from the offices of Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
In closed-door meetings, Ho told the same story. She sees her efforts as part of a larger, multifaceted wave that is challenging the Bush administration from every angle. At the same time the president is advocating an increase in the number of soldiers in Iraq, there is on the home front an increase in the number of vocal opponents of the war. "I believe my son is part of this movement," Ho said.
Phoebe Jones of Global Women's Strike, an international antiwar network that supports Ho and Watada, was at Ho's side on Capitol Hill. "The work of mothers is protecting life, beginning with their children," Jones explained. "And that is really the opposite of the obscenity of war."

For updates on Watada, you can check Ehren Watada and Courage to Resist.

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