On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Listening For The New Told Lies - Watada Stands Against Iraq War

While I sit and type these words a brutal war wages in Iraq, where American troops and an insurgency hell bent on mayhem and destruction play hide and seek and whack-a-mole, trading massacres with retribution, and retribution with massacres.

Meanwhile half a world away, in a military camp in Washington state, a young lieutenant sits waiting his punishment, having announced his refusal to be deployed at the end of the month to the hell-on-earth chaos of the Mosul neighborhoods.

1st Lt. Ehren Watada, of the Stryker unit, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division based at Fort Lewis issued the following video taped message (he was unable to attend in person the planned press conference scheduled to announce his decision):

(ABC News) "It is my duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices. [...] My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not those who would issue unlawful orders. It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong, but a horrible breach of American law."
Reuters reports:

First Lt. Ehren Watada's supporters -- including clergy and a military family group -- said he is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq and risked being court-martialed.

The Pentagon said Watada was among a number of officers and enlisted personnel who have applied for conscientious objector status.

"The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes," said Watada in a taped statement played at a Tacoma news conference.

His superiors at the nearby Fort Lewis military base would not let Watada leave the base to attend the press conference. Another news conference took place in Watada's native Hawaii.
However the Pentagon's claim is contradicted by the ABC News story:

Others have filed for conscientious objector status, which is an objection to all war. Watada, however, said he is not filing as a conscientious objector because he does not oppose all war — just this one.

"The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction to the Army's own law of land warfare," Watada said. (emphasis added)
The Pentagon's feeble attempt to classify Lt. Watada's position as a nothing to see here, move along non-event, is par for the course, but this is a story.

It is a bigger story than Tuesday's special election for a position that will be held for a mere 5 months. It is a bigger story than the gathering of Kossacks in Las Vegas. Yet these are the stories that dominate Daily Kos, unfortunately squeezing out all others.

As little attention as this story is getting at Daily Kos, this could be a seminal event in the opposition to the Iraq war. Christopher Day added this astute comment to my original Kos diary entry on this on Tuesday:

Resistance inside the military was key to ending the war against Viet Nam. This history is not well known. A very good book [Soldiers in Revolt] on it has recently been reissued however after 30 years out of print.
Lt. Ehren Watada is not taking this stance half-assed. The thankyoult.org site is a testament that this process was well thought out and a support structure for his ensuing legal battles was pre-established. Even while he is receiving abuse, as would be expected, from those that would want him to fight in this immoral and deceitful war on their behalf, he is standing strong and he needs our support.

Look, the decision is made, people seem to be supportive of his decision, even if they don't think he should have taken it for one reason or another, so we have a choice: we either help him, however our voice and influence can, or we forsake him, and let the military do their worst justice on him so that they can set an example.

If you wish to show your support you can start here by signing this petition, or you can donate money for his legal expenses.

You can write about this on your own blog, or write your support in a letter or email to your congress person or senator.

You can demonstrate in the streets, or write letters to newspaper editors in support of his case.

Lt. Watada shouldn't be the one on trial here, it should be the lying leadership we have plotting this nation's ruin in the White House. Lt. Watada shouldn't be the one on the defensive, it should be the President who made the naive, foolhardy, decision based on lies and deceit, to invade Iraq, and has no plan to get America out of there.

Instead Lt. Watada will be the target of vitriol and anger. He and his family will suffer emotional and financial distress. He will be ostracized by the military, and likely every organization that props up this President and this illegal war. Just watch the pious fear-worshipers prey on him like vultures on carrion.

Who needs the antichrist when we live amongst that lot?!

Ehren Watada statements as reported in the Seattle Times are clear:

"I feel that we have been lied to and betrayed by this administration. [...] It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order — including the order to go to war.

In a statement released today, Watada said the "war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances.

"It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes."
He has no illusions about what lies in store for him:

"I think they will do their best to make an example of me."
The question is, what kind of example will we make of ourselves? Our response to this will be telling.

[Cross posted at Daily Kos]

13 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Anonymous

I am a U.S. Soldier in Iraq right now and I am ashamed of this man. I work in JAG and I can tell all of you that the order to go to Iraq is not illegal. It is a lawful order. 1LT Watanda must not have understood his oath when he took it. His claim that he is not a conscientious objector is BS. If you say, "I don’t want to go to war because I object to it." Then you are a conscientious objector because you (A) know what your doing and saying and (B) you are objecting. This dirtbag is just trying to get his name in the paper. I would say that most of the people here didn’t want to come, I know I didn’t, but we did because we are proud to be in the military, we have a duty to go where we are sent, we have morals, and we are not collage assholes who just wanted to get some easy money and then when its time to really do your job bitch and try to weasel out of it. I encourage all of you who oppose me to email me. That way I can beat you cowards into the ground because you complain about something that you don’t even know about. Its not the protester who gave us the right to burn the flag, its not the reporter who gave us the right of free speech, its my friend who died last week, its my grandfather who died during WWII, its the first soldier who died in 1776. The rest of you who whine and complain about shit who have never been in the military or been to war, burn in hell.

SPC Foster

6/08/2006 1:16 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Don

"It is my duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices."

Sounds to me like he thinks his first duty is to protect his ass since he couldn't hide out in Korea long enough to resign.

He's gotten a good deal from the Army and now doesn't want to pay the dues that come with it.

They used to shoot people like this.

6/08/2006 4:42 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Don

Oh I forgot to add taht at least he didn't wear some part of a uniform like that skell Kovic.

6/08/2006 4:44 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Ian

Let me just say that I do value the sacrifices made by the soldiers of this country and I I respect them for it. However, I do not believe that this war has had anything to do with defending our freedoms. Which freedom of ours was threatened by the Iraqis? Not one.

We already know that America is still the home of the brave, and now Lt. Ehren, call him what you will, is about to test whether or not America is still the land of of the free.

Oh and if it weren't for the people you call "college assholes" there would be no technological advantage for US forces whatsoever. Every computer you ever used, all the programs that run on computers, every bit of equipment involving satellites, etc. you can thank a bunch of pencil-necked, fancy book learning geeks for having created to give you the advantage that you need out there.

6/08/2006 7:50 AM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous ms. flitworth

DK, Lieutenant Watada’s father, Bob Watada, has a reputation for integrity, too. In 2005, Hawaii’s Grassroot Institute gave him an Unsung Hero award for his work as director of the Campaign Spending Commission. It seems to have been a nonpartisan effort on his part, which brought down Democrats and their money machine as well as Republicans. The Hawaii Reporter has some articles on his career. Quite an interesting family.

6/08/2006 11:02 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Lietta Ruger

Good job Daniel, keep on reporting about Lt Ehren Watada. I appreciate where you are taking this....really!

6/08/2006 8:10 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger bobby fletcher

DK, I think even the military knows there's no honor in an immoral war. But it's like riding a tiger, once you're on it's - hard to get off.

Hope for the best for Watada, he has every right to object to a legal or lawful order which is immoral.

I wonder if Mr. Foster will blindly follow order to kill babies if Congress made the law and the president ordered it...

6/13/2006 2:37 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous Sgt of Marines

All I can say about this is..... "You’re SCARED! You're scared as hell and I hope you get what you rightfully deserve. To all the people who support him on this, no matter what you do, sign petitions, protest or whatever you think is right, Watanda is still going to be court martialed for “conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.” I’ve seen PFC’s with more courage than this Lieutenant. And you call yourself one? You think we’re just doing this for oil? How much oil have we gotten from it so far? It’s even funny how you guys say “we haven’t found mass destruction.” Do you even know what mustard gas does to people? Maybe you should Google that up.
HOW DO YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW of all the lies and deceit the government has done, WERE YOU personally there when they were discussing of all the so called lies and deceit you talk trash about? If we were to back down from this, what do you think is going to happen next? Are you guys expecting world peace or something? You should really look into thinking about what you're saying first before you make a fool of yourself to the public, I just like to point out that, the Iraqi people had no human rights or equal rights and constitutional civil liberties WERE NON-EXISTENT!!!
Soldiers fight every single day for your freedom and mine, what do you do? Semper Fi. Sgt of USMC.

1/04/2007 11:29 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Sgt. - The politics of the Middle East were vastly more complex than Bush's could fathom, so he made a simplistic and ignorant decision to invade the country.

Almost 4 years later the situation there is not better. Human right and civil liberties mean nothing when you are a prisoner in your own home because it is too dangerous to move around, because the infrastructure, like simple electicity is barely working, and when you are a potential target for slaughter through sectarian violence.

While the men and women in the Armed Forces that are in Iraq are for the most part doing the best they can, they have been placed in a no win situation, and while you can mock Watada for his stance, you should know that sometimes deciding not to fight isn't about cowardice or being "scared", but recognizing it is the wrong fight, and that there is no beneficial outcome to be had from it. In Watada's case increasingly it is clear history will show his position was right, but he took it before we all woke up to that fact.

1/04/2007 12:18 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous spartan122

personally i see why the guy doesnt want to go. who would...not very many people that i know would want to go to get shot at. i know i wouldnt. but sometimes life requires you do things you dont want to do; it requires you do what needs done. when you swear the oath to uphold the consitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, you dont get to choose who is your enemy. some paper pushing higher up does, but you agree and pledge your loyalty to him. you do what he tells you to do. last time i checked you dont get a choice when a higher up tells you to do something. when you disobey an order, you are breaking your oath to your country, your men, and lose all your integrity. also you basically commit treason. treason is defined as "a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state." breaking your oath to your president and your country by defying and order is treason. treason is punishable by death. i don't think this man should be shot for his desire to not go to war, but rather he should be court marshaled or thrown in the brig for a very long time. the military works on a hierarchy system. you do what you are told because thats what you signed up to do, no questions asked. people start questioning orders people get killed. i am only 15 years old and writing this from the comfort of my house, but i know people who have served, and plan on serving after college. i have had people tell me about the heartache of war, everything that it encompasses. maybe im wrong, maybe im right, i dont know. maybe there isnt one "right" way to look at it. but an order is an order and you must follow it, whether it be "right" "wrong" or somewhere in between. thats the way the system works. if you dont like it. please, dont enlist. its people like you that get others killed.

12/15/2007 6:04 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Watada stance is to uphold the Constitution. Unfortunately, it is Bush who has not done so.

12/15/2007 9:15 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous spartan122

which ways, specifically, are you reffering to that bush has undermined/violated the constitution?

12/25/2007 7:16 AM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Watada makes the case in his own words that you can listen to here: http://www.thankyoult.org/mmedia/msg-13jun06.html, and read here: http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/61/20326

12/25/2007 2:17 PM PT  

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