In his early 20s, Watada delivered packages during the day while finishing school at night. Then terrorists struck in New York and Washington. "I always wanted to join the military -- and, especially after 9/11, a lot of us wanted to do more," he says. "We had this call to duty."
Watada already had a strong military heritage in his family, which is of mixed origin: his mother is Chinese-American, his father Japanese-American. Both grandparents on his mother's side served in the US Army and were stationed in China. Two of his father's brothers enlisted as translators and interrogators in World War II. Another died in Korea, and a fourth later joined the US Marines. "We served when we were asked," Watada says. His father, Robert, took a different path. Ehren Watada says his father saw Vietnam as a "very racist war." So he joined the Peace Corps and went to South America.
When it came time for Watada to enlist, he was diagnosed with asthma and declared physically unfit. He paid $800 to have an outside test done and was accepted into the Army's college-option program. He completed basic training in June 2003, and went to Officer Candidate School in South Carolina. He emerged 14 weeks later as a 2nd lieutenant. "Nothing dissuaded me from wanting to be in the military, not even the war in Iraq," he says. "I believed in the war. I believed in the president. I believed there were weapons of mass destruction."
During a yearlong tour in Korea, he served under a commander who told his junior officers that if they didn't learn everything about their mission, they would be mediocre leaders – and fail those serving under them. The earnest Watada took this to heart in his own way. When he returned to Fort Lewis, he began researching Iraq. The exposé at Abu Ghraib prison fueled his doubts about the war. He read the report of the Iraq Survey Group, a team formed after the 2003 invasion to see if weapons of mass destruction existed. It found they didn't. He studied the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Later, after concluding that Saddam Hussein had no ties to Al Qaeda, as the president had claimed, he became more disillusioned: "And I said, 'Wow -- it's not bad intelligence; it's manipulative intelligence.' When you put it all together, I became convinced that what we're doing is illegal and immoral. I went into a short period of deep depression. I was so shocked. I felt betrayed."
In early 2006, after telling his family of his decision not to deploy, Watada went to see his commanding officer. "I was very nervous," he says. He offered to train his replacement. He offered to fight in Afghanistan instead of in Iraq. Both requests were denied. On June 5, 2006, he called a press conference to announce that he would not fight in a war he considered "illegal and immoral." Soon afterward, the Army took a step of its own -- launching an investigation that resulted in the convening of a court-martial.
The above is from Dean Paton's "Backstory: Dissent of an officer" (Christian Science Monitor) and Ehren Watada's court-martial begins Monday. For those wondering, The Nation didn't use their last issue before the court-martial (which subscribers and buyers wouldn't have gotten before Monday) to weigh in. They've become very comfortable in the COWARDS' SILENCE.
Last week, as a 'creative trust' pushed the save 'reporters' (it wasn't plural, don't kid), The Nation could offer not one, but two 'online exclusives' to 'cover' that issue.
The reality is that the laughable 'coverage' didn't do anything, the laughable petition didn't do anything. The only reason reports won't have to testify is because Ehren Watada, who already stood up against the illegal war, took the time to stand up against reporters being asked to testify. So there he is, facing a court-martial, having to do his work and that of the cowardly press. His 'thanks' for that is press releases by idiots claiming a petition brought about a 'victory' and, the same voices that couldn't credit him last week, go out of their way this week to avoid crediting him.
The reality is that if you're ever in spot, you want Ehren Watada on your side, the bulk of independent media is too busy traveloguing. (Egyptian bloggers? Really? On the cover a magazine called "The Nation"? Really?)
Martha notes Karen deYoung and Walter Pincus' "Iraq at Risk of Further Strife, Intelligence Report Warns" (Washington Post):
A long-awaited National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, presented to President Bush by the intelligence community yesterday, outlines an increasingly perilous situation in which the United States has little control and there is a strong possibility of further deterioration, according to sources familiar with the document.
In a discussion of whether Iraq has reached a state of civil war, the 90-page classified NIE comes to no conclusion and holds out prospects of improvement. But it couches glimmers of optimism in deep uncertainty about whether the Iraqi leaders will be able to transcend sectarian interests and fight against extremists, establish effective national institutions and end rampant corruption.
The document emphasizes that although al-Qaeda activities in Iraq remain a problem, they have been surpassed by Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence as the primary source of conflict and the most immediate threat to U.S. goals. Iran, which the administration has charged with supplying and directing Iraqi extremists, is mentioned but is not a focus.
Now someone serving in the military might read that and might decide to take a stand. If so, they need to grasp ahead of time that print independent media just doesn't give a damn. People taking stands they don't care about. If, a year from now, someone in Congress comments on it, they'll be all over it as surely they go into retreat mode to avoid standing up for or with a war resister.
Turning to the New York Times, we'll note James Glanz' "Iraq Suicide Bombers Kill 60 and Wound 150 in Market in Southern City:"
In Baghdad, which sometimes resembles a deadly dartboard where citizens can die at any time, relentless shelling, bombing and other violence killed at least 46 people. Mortar shells rained down in the Adhamiya, Qahira and Khadamiya neighborhoods, killing at least five and wounding 33, an Interior Ministry official said.
Elsewhere in the city, a suicide bomber detonated the minibus he was driving near St. Raphael Hospital in the Karada neighborhood, killing 6 and wounding 12. A parked car blew up in Rusafa Square in central Baghdad, killing three and wounding nine. The official said 30 bodies of unidentified people had been found dumped around Baghdad on Thursday, apparently the victims of death squads.
Outside Baghdad, two carloads of gunmen stormed a college at Diyala University and killed the dean and his son before driving off. And a car bomb attack on an Iraqi police and Army convoy in Qaim, a town on the Syrian border in the desert province of Anbar, killed three and wounded six.
The American military said a soldier died Thursday "from wounds due to enemy action" in Anbar. Following standard procedure, the military gave no details.
With the sixty reported killed in Hilla, the Times is noting over 100 reported deaths on Thursday. And fron the Los Angeles Times, we'll note Paul Richter and Louise Roug's "Iraq plans summit with Iran and Syria: The regional security talks might include the Arab League and the U.N., but not the U.S.:"
The Iraqi government Thursday invited Iran and Syria to Baghdad for talks next month on regional security, amid growing tension and accusations by the Bush administration of foreign meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Iraqi officials have not invited the United States to the meeting, which also could include Iraq's other neighbors, the United Nations and the Arab League. The meeting is intended to "promote support for the government of Iraq on security and other issues," said Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaidy, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States.
Sumaidy, speaking in Washington, said the summit was part of a series of regional gatherings sponsored by Iraq's fledgling government that have not included nations from outside the region. It is tentatively scheduled to start March 10. The meeting comes at a time when U.S. officials have accused Iran of meddling in Iraq.
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the new york times
james glanzthe washington post