Watada's first court-martial, earlier this year, ended in a mistrial when the military judge ruled that a stipulation both sides had earlier accepted, stating the officer had missed his deployment, constituted a guilty plea. Watada and his attorneys sought to continue the first trial but the military judge refused. They then argued a second trial would violate the lieutenant's constitutional rights.
As a second court-martial approached, Watada's appeal to the military's highest court went unanswered. His attorneys then appealed to the federal court for a stay.
Judge Settle's response marked a rare civilian intervention into military court proceedings. Settle, who served as a military lawyer in the 1970s, was recently appointed to the federal bench by President Bush. Though Watada's term of military service officially ended last December, the Army has not released him. He is now performing administrative duties at Fort Lewis, Wash.
The above, noted by Marcia, is from Marilyn Bechtel's "Victory for Iraq war refuser" (People's Weekly World). Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicy refuse to serve in the Iraq War (June 2006). Like other Iraq War resisters, his stand does matter and it has set an example. The US military attempted to set their own example, so eager to set one, in fact, that they were willing to trash the Constitution in order to get a do-over on their court-martial when it appeared they were losing the February court-martial. Watada is not the only one resisting the illegal war, in the military or out. Students have been active throughout the illegal war. They have waited for guidance . . . that really never came. Now they've become their own leaders.
Eric notes Marianne Mork and Ramy Khalil's "Hundreds of Students Walk Out of Classes to Protest War" (Socialist Alternative):
"I've been angry for many, many years about our administration and so have lots of youth. I'm really frustrated, for one, because I can't vote for President or legislators, but I can make a stand for what I believe in." - Amy Englesberg, 17 year-old high school senior (Bellingham Herald)
In Seattle on November 16, over 500 students took a bold stand against the war in Iraq and military recruitment in schools. Students from over 30 high schools and nearly 10 universities and colleges walked out of classes at noon and converged at Westlake Center for a mass rally and march.
The Seattle walkout was part of a national student walkout on November 16 called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) and a coalition of antiwar organizations in coordination with the national Iraq Moratorium protests. Socialist Alternative also played a major role in organizing these walkouts. Students organized walkouts in at least 8 cities or counties: Brattleboro (Vermont), Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Whatcom County, and Lewis County.
The Seattle walkout drew students from numerous towns and suburbs: Shoreline, Everett, Kenmore, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah, Renton, Bremerton, Bellingham, Anacortes, and Belfair.
In Minneapolis/St. Paul, 700-900 students organized a walkout. According to "The Olympian," 300-400 students from South Puget Sound Community College and Capital high schools organized a walkout in Olympia. The "Bellingham Herald" reported that around 100 Ferndale and Windward high school students walked out of classes and marched through Bellingham. On November 15, Tacoma high school students and Socialist Alternative organized a walkout of nearly 100 students.
These walkouts received an impressive amount of coverage in the mass media, reaching thousands of ordinary working people, soldiers, and military families with our message. Please check out all the media reports and video links below!
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Numerous adults, parents, and teachers also came out in support, many who were truly inspired to see a new generation of youth taking a bold stand and speaking from the stage with well researched facts about the costs of the war in lives and resources. Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first officer in the country to refuse to fight in Iraq after he was inspired by the student walkout YAWR organized in 2005. Student activists organized this walkout to embolden even more students, workers, soldiers and military families to stand up and refuse to cooperate with this war.
Supporters of the war argue that we should not protest the war because we are not supporting the troops and we are being unpatriotic. However, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, some of whom had been injured in Iraq, spoke at the rally from personal experience about how the best way to support the troops is to get them out of Iraq immediately and out of harm's way. Over 3,800 U.S. soldiers and 1,000 private military contractors have been killed in Iraq, and over 20,000 soldiers have been injured, not to mention that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have been killed.
Watada has inspired many and, among his own inspirations, were students. In 2005. Demonstrating that the lie that the students were inactive and apathetic wasn't true even when the desk jockey couldn't stop repeating or 'left' magazines couldn't stop giving an award to a student in an essay contest who wrote about how none of her fellow students cared, just her. That's the sort of ass kissing and sucking up that always wins award. Just like the complaints of "Kids Today, Oy Vey!" gets dusted off every generation. Neither are or were true. But you won't see what's really happening in the country from behind a desk and some adults always love to believe they did more than anyone before them. They love to believe that so much that they won't hesitate to strip young activists of their earned applause. Prizes will go out to little sucks ups who stab their fellow students in the back and stroke the egos of the committees. Doesn't make it reality, never did.
Well close out by returning to the topic of Watada. Lucy notes Ben Terrall's "Hail, Hail Ehren Watada" (Dissident Voice):
On November 9 in San Francisco's Chinatown, supporters of Iraq war resister Lt. Ehren Watada made a presentation to community press and local activists that included good news for their cause. On November 8, Judge Benjamin Settle of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of Lt. Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War.
As people gathered in Portsmouth Square in Chinatown, Watada Support Group member Ying Lee told me, "At the time that we called the news conference we did not know that the judge was going to give his decision yesterday." Lee went on, "The decision was due by today, so he was early (…) we are very appreciative of a United States Federal judge respecting the constitution and saying the trial cannot proceed."
Lee described Watada as "a young man who out of a patriotic sense of duty after 9/11 enlisted. (...) And he was such a good officer that when he was stationed in Korea, his commanding officer told him to prepare to be sent to Iraq, because that was going to be his next station."
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