On Monday, a press release announced that a "Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq" will he held Jan. 20-21 in Tacoma, WA. -- The announcement coincided with the 60th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly's affirmation of the Nuremberg Principles, which identify aggressive war as "the supreme international crime" and charge soldiers with the responsibility to disobey orders that can lead to war crimes. -- The event is timed to precede the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, who maintains that the Iraq war is illegal under U.S. and international law....
For immediate release
CONTACT: Evergreen State College / WarTribunal.org
CITIZENS' HEARING ON THE LEGALITY OF U.S. ACTIONS IN IRAQ
** Citizens' Hearing to Put Iraq War "on Trial" before Watada Court Martial Tribunal Announced on 60th Anniversary of Nuremberg Principles **
December 11, 2006
TACOMA, Washington -- The "Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq" will be held on January 20-21, 2007, in Tacoma, Washington, two weeks before the February 5th court martial of 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada at Fort Lewis. Organizing Committee members Rob Crawford, Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, says that the national event "will put the Iraq War on trial, in response to the Army's trial of Lt. Watada, the first U.S. military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq."
Organizers announced the upcoming tribunal today, December 11th, on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's affirmation of the Nuremberg Principles, which -- in the aftermath of World War II--disallowed soldiers from following unlawful orders that can lead to war crimes.
Nuremberg Trials prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, 86, said that "The enduring lessons and principles of the Nuremberg trials were that aggressive war is 'the supreme international crime' since it incorporates all of the other crimes. In addition, Nuremberg held that those responsible for crimes against humanity and major war crimes will have to answer before the bar of justice."
Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates will offer testimony, in a format that will resemble that of a congressional committee. According to Dr. Lawrence Mosqueda, member of the Organizing Committee and Professor at Evergreen State College: "We are inviting testimony by Iraq War veterans and experts to inform military personnel and other citizens to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities in an illegal war." Testifiers include:
* Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;
* Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;
* Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;
* Nadia McCaffrey, Gold Star Families Speak Out; Brussels Tribunal advisory board;
* Harvey Tharp, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and JAG stationed in Iraq;
* Antonia Juhasz, policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;
* John Burroughs, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy Executive Director;
* Eman Khammas, Iraqi human rights advocate (via video);
* Benjamin G. Davis, Assoc. Prof. of Law, University of Toledo; expert on law of war.
The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court-martial. His defense attorneys maintain that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada's defense argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.
A panel comprised of military veterans, members of military families, students, and representatives of labor unions, local governments, academia, and religious organizations will hear the testimony, examine witnesses, and issue a fact-finding report. Panelists will focus on the legality of the war, whether the invasion of Iraq in 2003 constituted a "crime against the peace," whether the military occupation and economic constriction of Iraq constitutes a "crime against humanity," and whether individual soldiers have an obligation or duty to refuse unlawful orders.
David Krieger, who was a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War, and is currently the Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will serve as panel chair. Krieger, who was a member of the Jury of Conscience at the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq, observes, "The Citizens' Hearing will place the legality of the Iraq War on trial. U.S. soldiers have always had the duty to disobey unlawful orders. That obligation was strengthened at the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War II. Following superior orders to commit unlawful acts is not a defense."
Krieger asserts, "Lt. Watada's position is that if the war itself is illegal, which he believes it to be, then orders to participate in the war must also be illegal. There is a duty to disobey such orders. If this position cannot be tried in U.S. courts, it must be tried before the court of public opinion."
Lietta Ruger of Military Families Speak Out (MSFO), Washington state chapter, says: "This hearing will focus attention on the role of the U.S. government -- rather than that of individual soldiers -- in perpetrating the crimes of the Iraq War."
Tribunal organizer and Evergreen State College geography professor Dr. Zoltan Grossman comments: "The Citizens' Hearing will focus critical attention on the underlying premises of the Iraq War at a critical time when its future is being decided. The Citizens' Hearing will heighten the discussion of the Iraq invasion and occupation in the public -- and within the military itself -- as similar tribunals did during the Vietnam War."
Nuremberg Trials prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz concludes, "The best way to protect the lives of courageous young people who serve in the military is to avoid war-making itself. One cannot kill an idea with a gun, but only with a better idea. If people believe that law is better than war, they must do all they can to enhance the power of law and stop glorifying war."
The Evergreen State College's Tacoma Campus (1210 6th Ave.) will host the Citizens' Hearing on January 20-21, 2007. The organizers of the Citizens' Hearing are also launching a new website: http:// www.WarTribunal.org to provide regular updates about the project. For more information about the case of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada, go to http://www.ThankYouLT.org