A Bay Area journalist and another writer were spared Monday from having to testify at a court-martial when an Army officer who had defied an order to go to Iraq agreed that the reporters had quoted him accurately in his criticism of the war and President Bush.
In return, the Army dropped two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, reducing his potential sentence by two years. Watada still faces up to four years in prison if convicted of two remaining charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a charge of missing a troop movement. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he is based.
The Army had sent subpoenas to journalists Sara Olson and Gregg Kakesako, demanding that they verify their quotations from Watada. On Monday, Watada acknowledged that he was quoted properly by Olson and Kakesako, and also in statements at a news conference and in a speech to veterans, the basis of the additional conduct-unbecoming charges.
The above, noted by Zach, is from Bob Egelko's "Writers won't be called in Army officer's case Man who refused to go to Iraq says he was quoted correctly" (San Francisco Chronicle). Zach writes, "Oh, did little Olson lose her spotlight? My favorite part of the article is how they mispell her name." Megan noting the same article writes, "Olson will no doubt take to the airwaves and print again, one last time, like all the missing blondes of TV land to make her victory lap. Then she'll do the slow fade and America's long nightmare will be over."
Brandon notes the AP story carried by Army Times:
Seitz said the Army wanted Watada to plead guilty to at least two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and missing movement in return for a sentence that would have included a dishonorable discharge and 18 months in prison.
"We did not feel that was appropriate and there have been no further discussions since the government made that position known to us," he said.
Seitz said he has offered three months of confinement and dishonorable discharge, but the Army did not indicate any willingness to go along with that.
Joan notes Nelson Daranciang's "Army drops 2 charges in Watada court-martial" (Honolulu Star Bulletin):
The court-martial proceedings are scheduled to begin Monday.
Seitz said the judge has refused to allow him to call expert witnesses to bolster his client's claims that his comments and actions were based on his belief that the war in Iraq is illegal. Without them, Watada would be the only witness to take the stand in his defense, said Seitz.
The latest development in Watada's case comes two days after his stepmother collapsed while taking part in a march in the nation's capital to protest President Bush's plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq. Seitz said Rosa Sakanishi suffered a mild stroke and remains in George Washington University Hospital.
Watada's father, retired state Campaign Spending Commission Executive Director Bob Watada, addressed the thousands of protesters on the National Mall on Saturday.
Joan wonders why Rosa's stroke received no attention from independent media and then answers her own question with, "But she's not blonde and the independent press has made Ehren's case all about what might happen to a blonde."
Keesha writes, "Thank God, I never have to hear Olson's stoned, little girl squeak again. Maybe now the focus can be where it should have been all along, on Ehren Watada. But I doubt that will be the case, I'm sure all the concerned for Olson-types will just move on to another non-issue."
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