On Saturday afternoon, Lt. Ehren Watada "spoke to a packed house" in Agnew, WA, about five miles east of Port Angeles, WA, the Peninsula Daily News reported Sunday.[1]  --  Watada also spoke in Port Townsend at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.  --  Lt. Watada "received several rounds of applause and two standing ovations from the crowd, as well as donations for his legal defense," and said he plans to "speak to groups about three times per week until his day in military court."  --  The Watada case is being resolutely ignored by Western Washington mainstream newspapers.  --  When Binion noted that Watada's court-martial is "scheduled for Feb. 5," it constituted a sort of scoop for the small Port Townsend paper (circulation about 17,000):  it was the first time a Washington State newspaper has mentioned the date of Lt. Watada's court-martial, though the date was announced publicly on Nov. 19.  --  Neither the Seattle Times, the Seattle P-I, nor the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) has written about Watada for more than a month.  --  The national press hasn't done much better.  --  On Thursday, a Trenton (NJ) Times story on an antiwar protest did include an account of the Watada case and an interview with his mother Carolyn Ho.[2] ...


By Andrew Binion

Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, WA)
December 10, 2006


AGNEW -- An Army officer from Fort Lewis facing a court martial for refusing to go to Iraq and speaking publicly against the war rallied a group of peace activists near Sequim on Saturday afternoon.

Wearing civilian clothes, Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, of Honolulu, Hawaii, spoke to a packed house of about 80 people at the Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship during a meeting of the North Olympic Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Watada was scheduled to speak at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend later Saturday.

The Port Townsend presentation was hosted by the Teen Peace Project.

Port Townsend resident Liz Rivera Goldstein is co-managing Watada's anti-Iraq war campaign with Seattle activist Carrie Hathorne.

Watada said in Agnew that he is facing stiff odds in his battle against his court-martial, scheduled for Feb. 5, but he isn't afraid.

"It's honestly what I believe a soldier must do," Watada said.

He received several rounds of applause and two standing ovations from the crowd, as well as donations for his legal defense.

He said he didn't know how much he has raised.

He expects to speak to groups about three times per week until his day in military court.


Watada joined the Army in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq.

He had just graduated from Hawaii Pacific University.

At the time, Watada said he believed he was almost "guaranteed" to go to Iraq.

He completed basic training that June and was stationed in Korea in 2004 and 2005.

He then began learning about Iraq, he said, and began to believe that the invasion and occupation were both illegal and immoral.

He requested that he be deployed to Afghanistan, or allowed to resign.

The Army offered him a non-combat assignment in Iraq, but he refused, he said.

He said he wasn't afraid to fight and die.

His objection was that President Bush and other members of the administration deceived Congress and the public into starting an illegal war, he said.


By Alex Zdan

Trenton (NJ) Times
December 14, 2006


PRINCETON BOROUGH -- They stood shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, palms shielding flickering candles. They were silent as the Rev. Bob Moore read out the names: "Dennis W. Zillinski, Freehold . . . Carl Jerome Ware Jr., Glassboro . . ."

A bell ring followed the reading of each name of the 50 New Jersey residents who have been killed serving in Iraq.

As a Christmas tree in Palmer Square gleamed a few hundred yards behind the protesters, a man talking on a cell phone flashed a thumbs-up; a white-bearded man walked by, mumbling about "safety." But most people deftly threaded their way between Moore and the line of people without a word or a glance.

Moore and the 25 members of the Coalition for Peace Action who joined him were demanding an end to the bloodshed and an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, but their protest was hardly enough competition for a holiday sale or a cup of eggnog in a warm tavern.

Moore was undaunted. "When a mistake has been made, we need to repent of it," he said. "We've lost enough. The Iraqis have lost enough."

According to the official count, 2,937 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, but numbers of Iraq civilians killed are harder to come by -- anywhere from 56,000 to 600,000.

After the protest, Carolyn Ho, a leading figure in the peace movement since June, addressed coalition members at the Nassau Presbyterian Church. She spoke about her son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy with his Stryker Brigade to Iraq. As a result, Watada is facing a court-martial set to begin in February.

Ho remembered "going ballistic" when Watada joined the military, without telling her, immediately after finishing college in June 2003.

Though describing herself as a product of the 1960s and no fan of the military, Ho respected her son's desire to serve his country after the Sept. 11 attacks. After a deployment in South Korea, Watada agreed to return to the U.S. to train for being sent to Iraq, beginning with research into the history of the region and the war effort so far.

That, Ho said, changed him.

"In studying all the literature, he was stunned by what he saw," she said. The soldier's reading into the administration's case for war, as well as the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. charter, led him to believe the war was illegal and illegitimate. "He began to question his duty," Ho said.

On New Year's Day 2006, Watada, on his base at Ft. Lewis, Wash., called his mother at home in Hawaii and told her he was going to refuse to be sent to Iraq.

Ho was furious again, but, she said, "I realized perhaps this was my son's calling. And it was not my place to abort that," she said.

After his decision, events moved quickly. On Jan. 25, Watada wrote a letter of resignation. It was denied. Watada offered to serve in Afghanistan. He was denied. The Army offered him a desk job in Iraq. He refused. Early in June, Watada, with his mother and father Robert Watada at his side, publicly announced he considered his orders to be sent to Iraq illegal and would not follow them. At 2:30 a.m. on June 22, his flight to Baghdad left without him.

"Resisting an authoritarian government at home is equally important as fighting a foreign enemy abroad," the young man said in a videotape of a Veterans for Peace convention shown to the coalition.

Until her son's day in court, Ho will continue to try and bring more of the public to criticize those who determine the execution of the war. "We have to hold their feet to the fire," she said, "and make them accountable."