Political charges of “contempt towards the president” dropped, four years prison still possible for political speech critical of Iraq War. Trial date set for February 5, 2007.
– U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada
After an unexpected delay, the Army has announced the forwarding of charges against Lt. Ehren Watada by Fort Lewis Commanding Officer Lt. General James Dubik. Lt. Watada is to be court martialed for missing movement (article 87 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) and multiple counts of “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman” for his public opposition to the illegal and immoral occupation war in Iraq.
In a pre-trial victory for Lt. Watada, the Army has retreated on all counts of “contempt towards government officials” – specifically President G. W. Bush. The last known prosecution of this article was in 1965 resulting from Lt. Henry Howe’s opposition to U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War. Lt. Watada’s defense team believe the military favors the conduct unbecoming charges for their overly broad nature, versus the more controversial “contempt of officials” that would have opened the door to the obvious question, “can speech be contemptuous, if it is factual?”
Lt. Ehren Watada responds
“The referral of the charges was not unexpected. I’m moving forward as I always have with resilience and fortitude to face the challenges ahead . . . I think the recent elections show more and more Americans are opening their eyes, but we aren’t there yet. I hope that actions such as mine will continue to help expose the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of the war,” said Lt. Ehren Watada.
“The reason I spoke out, I saw that what was being done in terms of this war was so illegal and so immoral, and not being checked. It was a danger to our troops and a danger to our country. So, I think what needs to be done is some kind of accountability in Washington (D.C.) and also investigations into how this war was started in the first place.”
Lt. Watada told reporters at a press conference last Thursday that “almost every day, someone from the military or the outside sends me some kind of correspondence or approaches me in person to render support or their respect.”
December 8-10 days of action to support Lt. Watada and all GI resisters
It’s time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of Lt. Watada and the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women GI’s who have in many different ways followed the their conscience, upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and stood up for their rights.
Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights. We call for the following:
1) Support for all war objectors
2) Protect the right to conscientious objection
3) Protect the liberties and human rights of GI’s
4) Sanctuary for war objectors.
In the Pacific Northwest, these actions will serve as a warm up for larger mobilizations and events to coincide with Lt. Watada’s trial early next year. The actual court martial date has not yet been sent.
Citizen’s hearing on Iraq, January 20-21
One important event in support of Lt. Watada’s courageous stand in opposition to the illegal and immoral occupation war in Iraq already underway is citizen’s hearing to be held in the Seattle area over January 20-21. Confirmed participants include David Kreiger and Daniel Ellsberg, while Veterans for Peace and Gold Star Families for Peace have joined the effort. More information coming soon!
Bob Watada, currently in middle of a cross-country speaking tour in support of his son Ehren, responded to the referral of charges by declaring, “People come up and tell us that Ehren is a true American hero. Of course, we are concerned about the outcome of the trial, but we are very gratified with the enormous support from a broad sector of the American people.”