Category: Ehren Watada

Ehren Watada: Free at Last

By Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith, The Nation. October 26, 2009 On June 7, 2006, a 28-year-old Army lieutenant named Ehren Watada released a video press statement announcing that he was refusing to deploy to Iraq because the Iraq War was illegal and his “participation would make me party to war crimes.” After three years of trying to convict him by court martial, the Army has finally given up and allowed Lt. Watada to resign. Despite his direct refusal of an order to deploy, Watada did not spend a single day in jail. Watada’s Story A former Eagle Scout with a degree in finance, Watada volunteered for military service after 9/11. His motives could hardly have been more patriotic. For himself and his fellow soldiers, he said, “the reason why we all joined the military” and “the commitment we made to this country” is “to sacrifice everything–sacrifice our lives, our freedom–to ensure that all Americans live in a country where we have true democracy.” When he learned that he would be shipped to Iraq, Lt. Watada began to read everything he could find about the war, on all sides, so that he could better motivate the troops under his command. One of the books he read was James Bamford’s A Pretext for War. In a film made about his story, In the Name of Democracy, Watada described shock at...

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Lt. Watada finally free of Army

Victory press conference, SF 10/8/09 Courage to Resist. October 8, 2009 Courage to Resist was delighted to join the Lt. Ehren Watada victory press conference organized by Asian Americans for Peace and Justice this morning in San Francisco Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square park. Ehren was the first military officer to publicly speak out against and refuse to deploy to Iraq back in June 2006. In February 2007, Ehren stood before a general court martial and faced seven years in the stockade as over a 1,000 supporters rallied nearby at the gates of Fort Lewis, WA. To celebrate Ehren’s long-awaited discharge last week, artist Betty Kano encircled the speakers’ podium with a traditional drum-call and poets and members of the community spoke out. Ehren never spent a day in the stockade and never backed down from his assertion that the Iraq War was and remains an illegal occupation. To understand how this victory came about, please checkout out “How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army” by Jeff Paterson, February 14, 2007.   Mark Jensen, United for Peace of Pierce County, WA. October 3, 2009 Some 1,213 days after he publicly declared his refusal to obey orders to deploy with his unit to Iraq on the grounds that the war there is illegal under national and international law, Ehren Watada was discharged from the U.S. Army on Friday morning,...

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Army finally accepts Lt. Ehren Watada resignation

By Audry McAvoy, Associated Press September 25, 2009 The Army is allowing the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq to resign from the service, his attorney said late Friday. First Lt. Ehren Watada will be granted a discharge Oct. 2, “under other than honorable conditions,” attorney Kenneth Kagan said. Watada told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin he was happy the matter has finally been closed. “The actual outcome is different from the outcome that I envisioned in the first place, but I am grateful of the outcome,” he said. Background: How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army Commentary by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. February 14, 2007 Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek wouldn’t confirm Watada’s type of discharge, citing privacy rules. But he said late Friday that Watada’s manner of resignation is described in Army regulations as “resignation for the good of the service in lieu of general court martial.” Watada, 31, refused to deploy to Iraq with his Fort Lewis, Wash.-based unit in 2006, arguing the war is illegal and that he would be a party to war crimes if he served in Iraq. The Honolulu-born soldier was charged with missing his unit’s deployment and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war — statements he made while explaining his actions. His court-martial ended in mistrial in...

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Case dropped against Lt. Ehren Watada!

Last week Courage to Resist supporters took action to ask the Solicitor General to drop the Army’s appeals against Iraq War refuser Lt. Ehren Watada. Yesterday, he did just that!

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End the U.S. Army’s prosecution of Lt. Ehren Watada!

The Justice Department can say no to Army’s legal appeal; “Dear Solicitor General: Tell the Army to drop the appeal against Lt. Watada” By the Ad Hoc Campaign to Free Ehren Watada. April 27, 2009 In June 2006, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada refused orders to Iraq on the grounds that the war was illegal and immoral. His court martial in February 2007 ended in an Army-contrived mistrial. In October 2007, the Army attempt to have a second court martial was stopped by a Federal judge who ruled that a second court martial would be double jeopardy. But the Army has not allowed Lt. Watada to leave military service. Instead, they have notified the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit of their plans to appeal the double jeopardy ruling. The Army has also threatened to revive old charges stemming from Lt. Watada’s speech in Seattle to the 2006 convention of Veterans For Peace. Justice Department to decide if Army will appeal double jeopardy ruling The U.S. Solicitor General’s office in the Department of Justice will soon decide whether the Army can go ahead with its plans to appeal Federal Court rulings in Lt. Watada’s favor. An campaign of public pressure is being called by Lt. Watada’s supporters in the peace movement. The ad hoc campaign is being spearheaded by two Vietnam War resisters, Mike Wong and Gerry Condon,...

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