Florida Support

Florida Support works to stop the executions in Florida and to work for alternatives to the death penalty. Florida Support will work to prepare information for media and update the public on what is really happening in Florida. Florida Support also works on international related issues

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hearing for soldier who won't serve in Iraq puts war on trial



http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/281742_watada18.html

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hearing for soldier who won't serve in Iraq puts war on trial

By MIKE BARBERP-I REPORTER

FORT LEWIS -- The issue before an Army officer Thursday was whether Lt. Ehren Watada ought to face a court-martial for refusing to go to Iraq.
But the war itself and whether it is based on deceit or defense of a nation was on trial. And so was Watada and whether he acted out of courage or dishonor.



AP

Lt. Ehren Watada, left, walks with his father, Bob Watada; his stepmother, Rosa Sakanishi; and attorney Eric Seitz during a lunch break in an Army hearing on Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq.
In a cramped courtroom on this Army base that just sent thousands of its soldiers to Iraq, three witnesses for Watada called the war illegal.
The four-hour hearing is likely a prelude to what could occur at a court-martial. The decision on a court-martial will be made later.
Capt. Dan Kuecker, the Army prosecutor, said Watada "and his supporters are wrong on the law" and argued that the legality of the war was not an issue for a military court to hear.
Kuecker said the evidence shows that Watada missed his deployment to Iraq "by design" and was contemptuous by saying President Bush "lied to service members," Congress and the nation to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Kuecker said Watada's public statements came as his unit was heading to Iraq, hurting morale, and that refusing orders the way he has "is dangerous to allow to happen in our Army."
"His behavior is dishonorable, and it is disgraceful," Kuecker said.
But Eric Seitz, one of Watada's lawyers, said the Army didn't have to take it this far. Seitz called Watada's stance courageous.
Your browser does not support iFrames
var url = "http://cxtad.specificmedia.com/SMBannerAds/index.jsp?url=" + escape(window.location) + "&l=931132566&sz=300x250&rnd={INSERT_CACHEBUSTER_HERE}&";
document.getElementById('iEnt300x250').src = url;
"It's not our intention to put the war on trial, but the nature of the trial makes it necessary," Seitz said. "We want the Army to get an idea about the kind of testimony we are going to be presenting at trial" if Watada's case proceeds to a court-martial.
Watada, 28, of Honolulu, a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team that deployed to Iraq in June, was charged in July with missing troop movements, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.
After trying unsuccessfully since January to resign from the Army, in June Watada announced his intention to refuse deployment to Iraq.
If convicted on all counts, Watada could face more than seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. He is free to come and go from Fort Lewis.
Lt. Col. Mark Keith, the investigating officer acting as a judge, must digest the evidence -- and recommend no action, lesser administrative action or a court-martial on all or some of the charges. However, Fort Lewis' commanding general has the final say.
Watada sat calmly throughout the hearing Thursday and did not testify.
Watada and his lawyers say the invasion and occupation violate U.S. and international warfare conventions and the Army's own "Field Manual 27-10: The Law of Land Warfare."
Kuecker called one witness, an Army captain who escorted Watada after he failed to muster with troops heading to Iraq, and entered as evidence three videos of public comments Watada made as well as several newspaper clippings.
One video Kuecker showed came from Watada's appearance only last Saturday at the Veterans for Peace national convention in Seattle.
There, Watada voiced what he called "a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier. It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War -- but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."
Watada spoke of the "wholesale slaughter" of Iraqis and said he did not want to be a party to war crimes by serving there.
Over objections by Kuecker, Keith allowed Seitz and Capt. Mark Kim, Watada's military lawyer, to call three expert witnesses to testify about the war's illegality as justification for Watada's actions:
University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an international law expert; former United Nations Undersecretary-General Denis Halliday; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright. All three said the war is illegal.
Boyle, who said he studied at Harvard under the man who wrote the Army field manual concerning land wars, said the war constitutes "a war against peace" because the U.N. Security Council did not authorize it.
He said Congress approved going to war in Iraq only because it was lied to by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's ties to the 9/11 attacks.
Wright once taught the Army field manual in her long career. She became a member of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps who resigned in 2003 because she thought the war to be illegal.
P-I reporter Mike Barber can be reached at 206-448-8018 or mikebarber@seattlepi.com.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home