Daily Kos, the Internet's highest-trafficked weblog with an average daily traffic of more than 500,000, is perhaps the most important grassroots political site on the internet. -- Yesterday, Daily Kos took up the Watada case, thanks to Pacific Northwest activist Lietta Ruger's efforts and Daniel Kirkdorffer's writing (as "Daniel K"), for about six hours Lt. Watada's story was front page recommend, generating dialogue, discussion, support, and financial support. -- Kirkdorffer described Lt. Watada's resistance to the Iraq war and wrote: "This community has so far not paid much heed to Ehren Watada, and that is a great shame that I hope will soon change." -- (NOTE: Daily Kos was started in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, who described the project in the recent book Crashing the Gate, reviewed in April in the New York Review of Books. -- Lietta Ruger, who is active in Friends and Family of Lt. Watada, is an antiwar activist from Bay Center, WA, who has two Iraq veterans in her family. -- A social worker by vocation as well as an Episcopal lay preacher, she is chapter coordinator for Military Families Speak Out in Washington State. -- For more on Daily Kos, see the article on Wikipedia.) ...
THEY SHOULD PUT US ALL IN JAIL FOR WATADA'S BLASPHEMY!
By Daniel K [Daniel Kirkdorffer]
July 7, 2006 -- 8:30 a.m. PDT
I freely admit that I have, on many occasions, spoken contemptuously of the president.
Yes, I have crossed that line many a time, since before he was even selected as president.
I have probably even done so in public forums in a manner unbecoming my upstanding position as an engaged and active member of society.
I confess of these things, openly, and without regret.
I'm sure many of you have so sinned more times than you can count.
Yet, on Wednesday a far braver man than I was officially charged with such crimes and more.
The Army accused 1st Lt. Ehren Watada of missing his brigade's troop movement to Iraq, twice speaking contemptuously of the president and three acts unbecoming an officer. The alleged actions are violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (The Seattle Times)
Watada, a mild mannered, soft spoken soldier of Hawaiian descent, has hardly made statements worthy of the charge of speaking contemptuously of the president, or acted in a manner unbecoming of an officer.
Throughout this whole ordeal, he has maintained his poise and dignity, and spoken eloquently and measuredly about his refusal to follow the order to deploy to Iraq.
Just watch his video and tell me whether this is a man who has merited the charges of speaking contemptuously of the president and acts unbecoming an officer.
His attorney, Eric Seitz, expected Watada to be charged for missing the troop movement. But Seitz said he was "somewhat astounded" by the other charges, which he said raised "important First Amendment issues," regarding freedom of speech. (The Seattle Times)
The charges, however, provide an opportunity for a defense hearing with witnesses:
Lt. Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said: "We expected the missing movement charge, but we are somewhat astounded by the contempt and conduct unbecoming charges. These additional charges open up the substance of Lt. Watada's statements for review and raise important First Amendment issues. We are delighted that the Army has given us the opportunity to litigate these questions."
Most previous prosecutions of Article 88 took place during the Civil War and World War I, and the last known prosecution was in 1965 (Howe vs. U.S.). Lt. Henry Howe protested U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War.
Even before Lt. Watada refused to ship out to Iraq on June 22, the Army was focusing their investigation on his speech. The formal charges confirm that the Army's primary objective is silencing Lt. Watada's dissent. (ThankYouLt.org)
Indeed, by making these charges, which could amount to seven years of prison for Watada, the Army is providing a forum for a courtroom fight, and his supporters need people who supported Cindy Sheehan last year to show their support for Lt. Watada.
We believe that Lt Watada's stand offers a historic opportunity to assert our power to challenge and end the illegal war and occupation and to support the courageous soldiers and officers who fulfill their commitment to refuse illegal orders to participate in illegal war, occupation and war crimes. We intend to make Lt Watada's stand count as a significant step towards a better, just and more peaceful world. (ThankYouLt.org)
The Army, and those who will judge Ehren Watada have no ground to stand on when it comes to disgrace. Their decisions, and their war of choice, have placed so many brave men and women in danger and cost the lives of over 2500 soldiers, and killed and maimed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq. They are the ones who should be held in judgement. They are the ones deserving of contempt. They are the ones whose behavior we should be condemning.
There has already been a national, even international day of action on June 27th.
This community has so far not paid much heed to Ehren Watada, and that is a great shame that I hope will soon change. We have to get our heads out of the minute details of political races for a moment and pay attention to battles like this one. Many have already commented on how it was in fact the patriotic dissenting actions of soldiers during the Vietnam war that helped turn the tide of public opinion and sway politics, and that the same thing could happen with the Iraq war.
1st Lt. Ehren Watada has taken a tough, life-changing but resolute stand against this war. The question is, do you stand behind him, or forsake him?