The sixth day after Lt. Ehren K. Watada refused to deploy to Iraq was a National Day of Action in his support, but a Google News search indicates that mainstream media coverage in general misclassified the Watada demonstrations as Local News. -- (It should be noted, however, that there was some national broadcast media coverage; NPR, for example, carried a brief interview with Lt. Watada. This press review is limited to what is available through Google News's constantly updated review of 4,500 English-language news sources.) -- As was the case for Lt. Watada's Jun. 7 announcement of his intentions and his Jun. 22 refusal to deploy, U.S. mainstream media confined the story to short local news reports. -- No major daily acknowledged that the nationally coordinated demonstrations had taken place. -- Here are some brief remarks on the 10 mainstream reports that were available as of 10:00 a.m. PDT on Jun. 28, as well as 4 items from alternative media (the full text of these pieces are posted on the UFPPC web site). -- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, with a 750-word piece by Mike Barber and Jon Naito, once again gave Lt. Watada and his supporters the most sympathetic coverage. -- The Olympian reported on a demonstration of support near Fort Lewis. -- Christian Hill also reported that "On Friday, the Army transferred Watada from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the Army's first Stryker brigade, to the headquarters company of I Corps," and said that Lt. Watada's parents have been able to visit their son twice since he refused to deploy. -- Local AP wires reported briefly on a number of demonstrations of support. -- KGW posted an AP piece about the rally on the Exit 119 I-5 overpass near Fort Lewis, and mentioned a number of other demonstrations of support in Puget Sound region. -- A Honolulu radio station ran an AP piece about a rally in Watada's support in Thomas Square in Honolulu. -- Two Oklahoma TV stations ran an AP piece on a demonstration in support of Lt. Watada on the steps of the state capitol in Oklahoma City. -- A TV station in Charlotte, NC, reported that the documentary "Sir! No Sir!" was shown "in dozens of cities Tuesday in support of Watadas cause," but mistakenly placed Lt. Watada "in a Florida base." -- A San Diego TV station that posted an AP story about a rally there mistakenly called Watada a "San Diego soldier." -- Channel 10 of San Diego reported on a rally at the federal courthouse in San Diego that featured Marjorie Cohn, the law professor who appeared at Lt. Watada's Jun. 7 news conference in Tacoma. -- Cohn said that "There is tremendous dissension within the military," and asserted that the United States is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and routinely violates the Geneva Conventions, mentioning Haditha and Hamadania; "Cohn said a hot line aimed at helping members of the military learn their rights was getting around 3,000 calls a month." -- A Hawaii TV station noted that there was a rally in support of Watada outside Fort Shafter in Honolulu, the HQ of the U.S. Army Pacific Command. -- The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderale, FL, reported on a small rally there, and posted a 70-second videoclip of a pro-Watada demonstration in Lauderhill, FL. -- In alternative media, retired Col. Ann Wright, who was serving as a U.S. diplomat when she resigned in protest against the invasion of Iraq, posted a piece in Lt. Watada's support on the web site Tom Paine. -- Lew Rockwell posted the remarks of Debbie Clark, a veteran, who said that "Refusing to participate in an unjust and illegal war is an act of conscience that is also an affirmation of the rule of law. No soldier owes absolute allegiance to any military system," and also relayed a statement from retired U.S. Air Force Major Kelley G. Culver, a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, who denounced the "tapestry of lies" behind both the the Gulf war and the Iraq war and thanking him for "taking the stand that I was unable to take myself" because "I had a career at stake. To refuse to deploy would have ended that career. I was not willing to pay that price." -- Jeff Paterson posted an Indymedia piece with 10 photos on pre-National Day of Action mobilization in Olympia, WA. -- Lori Hurlebaus described a rally in support of Lt. Watada in downtown San Francisco in a piece accompanied by 10 photos. ...
ACTIVISTS RALLY FOR SOLDIER WHO WON'T GO
By Mike Barber and Jon Naito
** More than 100 show support for Lt. Watada on I-5 near Fort Lewis **
June 28, 2006
FORT LEWIS -- Next to this Army base where troops are folding their flags and preparing to leave for Iraq, more than 100 people gathered Tuesday to unfurl their banners to honor one soldier who refuses to go: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.
They stood with signs -- many simply saying, "Thank You, Lt. Watada" -- on the bridge at Exit 119 over Interstate 5 to show their support for the officer whose very public refusal to go to Iraq and opposition to the war has galvanized the peace movement.
"We needed something to light a fire under our asses," said Julie Evans, 30, of Olympia. "Can you imagine the courage it took for him? It's amazing."
Watada, 28, remains behind the gates at Fort Lewis, confined there since Thursday when he would not join his battalion to fly to Iraq. It is part of a Stryker Brigade of nearly 4,000 soldiers.
The Army has not brought charges against Watada, though it is investigating them. Watada will not ask for conscientious objector status, and the Army will not allow him to resign. So he seems likely to face a court-martial.
"He said he would sacrifice his career to do the right thing," said Jeff Paterson, who says he refused to be deployed to the first Iraq war. He said at the rally outside Fort Lewis that he had talked to Watada before the lieutenant made his decision.
"The only thing he worried about is: Would it matter? Would anybody notice?"
Anti-war activists scheduled rallies for Tuesday outside Fort Lewis, in Seattle, and cities across America to back Watada and present him as the leading symbol of war resistance.
In Seattle, supporters of Watada took to the streets at two locations.
At Westlake Center, about a dozen people stood at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street holding up signs and posters in support of Watada and against the war in Iraq. Tourists and shoppers with iced coffee drinks walked past the protesters, taking little notice.
The scene was more vibrant at Green Lake, where two dozen supporters set up across from the Green Lake Church of Seven-Day Adventists. Passing motorists honked in support.
"He shouldn't be punished," said Jerry Riley, one of the Green Lake supporters. "He should be hailed as a hero. What he's doing is principled."
Supporters want Watada to be able to leave the Army and not face a court-martial. Erin Miller, 25, of Centralia, said outside Fort Lewis that the leaders of the Bush administration who led the nation into war ought to be the ones in court.
"If they're going to prosecute Lt. Watada, they've got the wrong guy," she said.
For many outside Fort Lewis, Watada's stance has given them hope. Evans, for example, said people like her have felt alienated and beaten down by charges of disloyalty for their opposition to the Iraq war. But Watada has emboldened them.
"They call us traitors," agreed Janet Jordan of Olympia. "That Lt. Watada can stand up to that makes him admirable to me."
Watada's father, Robert, and his mother, Carolyn Ho, came from Honolulu for the rally outside Fort Lewis.
Robert Watada expressed his continuing dismay over the invasion of Iraq and the loss of U.S. and Iraqi lives.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," he told the crowd. "This is not only for Lt. Watada but for our country."
The group filled the bridge and frequently drew the approving honks of cars and trucks from the rush-hour traffic that passed underneath. Closest to the gate was a small group of counterdemonstrators who said they support the troops and the mission in Iraq.
One who carried a black flag emblazoned with a death-skull military emblem made faces and heckled the Watada supporters even as they paused for a moment of silence.
On the bridge, Curt Bell and his wife, Linda McKimbell, both of Portland, stood with a sign bearing the photo of Bell's brother John. "Died in Vietnam for another stupid war," the sign said.
Some men who say they are veterans of other wars stood with the Watada supporters. John Mackey, a Korean War veteran, said it was important to be there.
"I have a guilty conscience for what I did (in Korea)," Mackey, 76, of Mountlake Terrace, said. "I didn't give a damn then. It's only afterwards that I began to think about what I did. The lieutenant has sense enough to recognize now what's going to happen."
SOLDIER'S DISSENT DRAWS DEFENDERS
By Christian Hill
** Rally for Ehren Watada turns into war debate on DuPont overpass **
Olympian (Olympia, WA)
June 28, 2006
[PHOTO CAPTION: Operation Support Our Troops member Shelley Webber and an anti-Iraq War demonstrator talk during Tuesday's National Day of Action to Stand Up With Lt. Ehren Watada. Advocates with both sides waved signs and banners near the DuPont overpass to bring attention to their causes.]
[PHOTO CAPTION: Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada (center), visits with supporters Tuesday in DuPont. Looking on at left is Ehren Watada's stepmother, Rosa.]
FORT LEWIS -- From Tacoma to New Haven, Conn., and in nearly two dozen major cities in between, activists rallied Tuesday to support 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who has become the new public face in their effort to end the Iraq War.
Supporters waved signs and banners on the Interstate 5 overpass to DuPont, joined by Watada's father, Bob, who is here from Hawaii.
Those who disagree with Watada's stand also made their presence felt, with heated debates ensuing over the war and Watada's position.
The lieutenant, a native of Hawaii who joined the Army in 2003, twice refused to deploy overseas with his unit last week. He has said he will not command troops in what he has concluded is an illegal war under U.S. and international law.
The Army has ordered Watada, 28, to remain on the Army post while it decides how to respond to his defiance. He could face a general court-martial, in which case he intends to base his defense on the alleged illegality of the war.
On Friday, the Army transferred Watada from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the Army's first Stryker brigade, to the headquarters company of I Corps.
The Stryker brigade is busy deploying to the Middle East, and its rear detachment is focusing on soldiers' families. The headquarters company of I Corps is in a better position to focus on Watada's case, said Tammy Reed, a Fort Lewis spokeswoman.
Bob Watada said he, his wife, and his son's mother, Carolyn Ho, have twice visited him since he refused to deploy Thursday. His son is staying in a small apartment and his spirit remains strong, despite knowing he could face incarceration.
"He's holding up well," his father said. "He understands what's going on, that sometime or another the military will make a decision of what they're going to charge him with. We're just waiting for that."
The Army post has said no charges will be filed until the commander has had the opportunity to review the case and consult with military lawyers.
"We don't have any kind of date whatsoever," Reed said, when asked when charges might be filed.
Some have called Watada a coward and traitor for his actions, but his father said they don't understand what's going on in Iraq. A strong anti-Muslim culture has developed, prompting people who want to go over there and kill Iraqis, he said.
"We label them all as enemies, as insurgents, but they're not," he said. "They're simply people who want their homes back and their lives back. If someone invaded my country, wherever it may be, I'd be on the streets fighting against that."
The elder Watada said his son is taking this stance to end the killing and bring the troops home.
Watada's immediate family is scheduled to return to Hawaii at week's end, but his father said efforts to support the officer will continue.
"The group here is still very strong," he said. "It's just amazing, the number of people who have come out to help."
DEMONSTRATORS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF IRAQ REFUSENIK AT FORT LEWIS
June 28, 2006
More than 100 people demonstrated on a freeway overpass outside this Army post on behalf of an officer who has refused deployment to Iraq.
Others held rallies Tuesday in a number of cities, including Seattle and Honolulu, hometown of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, who has been confined to Fort Lewis since he refused to go with the rest of his Stryker brigade to Iraq last Thursday.
Watada, whose request to be allowed to resign his commission was denied, says the war in Iraq is illegal. He has not sought conscientious objector status, nor has he been charged with a military offense pending completion of an Army investigation into his conduct.
On the overpass over Interstate 5 at Exit 119, many of the demonstrators held signs saying, "Thank You, Lt. Watada." With them was the soldier's father, Bob Watada.
"He's holding up well," the elder Watada said. "He understands what's going on, that sometime or another the military will make a decision of what they're going to charge him with. We're just waiting for that."
A small group of counterdemonstrators and Iraq war supporters gathered near a gate to Fort Lewis near the overpass and some heckled the Watada protesters.
About a dozen protesters held signs in downtown Seattle and two dozen rallied at Green Lake in the city's north end. Another demonstration was held at Thomas Square in Honolulu, Watada's home town, and others were planned in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, and other cities.
"He shouldn't be punished," said Jerry Riley, one of the Green Lake demonstrators. "He should be hailed as a hero. What he's doing is principled."
ARMY OFFICER RECEIVES SUPPORT AT HOME
June 28, 2006
HONOLULU -- A rally was held Tuesday in Honolulu to show support for an Army officer who refused to deploy to Iraq when his unit left for the Middle East last week.
The demonstrators held signs at Thomas Square that said, "Refuse Illegal War," and thanked First Lieutenant Ehren Watada.
The 28-year-old Watada remained at Fort Lewis in Washington State when members of the Third Brigade, Second Infantry Division deployed last Thursday.
Watada has said he would not fight in the war in Iraq because he believes it's illegal and immoral.
Demonstrator Nancy Moss says she admires Watada because he knows he's going to have to pay a penalty for his actions.
GROUP PRAISES ANTI-IRAQ WAR STANDS
June 27, 2006
OKLAHOMA CITY -- About 20 anti-war activists, many bearing signs condemning the war in Iraq, staged a protest Tuesday on the south steps of the Oklahoma Capitol.
Jon Cantrell of Oklahoma Veterans for Peace said the rally paid tribute to Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. military officer to refuse deployment orders to Iraq, and Spc. Suzanne Swift, who went AWOL rather than return to "a senseless war in Iraq and face sexual harassment at the hands of her superiors."
Cantrell said the rally attended by members of such groups as Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Catholic Peace Fellowship, and Joy Mennonite Church is among about 30 similar protest being staged around the country.
Protesters carried signs reading: "Troops Home Now," "Christians Against the Bush Crusade," and "No More Blood for Oil."
Cantrell said his group opposes all war but the Iraq war is especially "terrible" because it was started by "mass deception and to promote a political agenda."
Nathaniel Batchelder of the Oklahoma Peace House said American troops must be brought home but "we don't want to cut and run" because the United States is "responsible for the mess over there" and must help clean it up.
SOLDIER FACES PENALTIES FOR WAR STANCE
By Shawn Flynn
News 14 Carolina
June 28, 2006
CHARLOTTE -- The first Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq is being honored across the country. But while some are calling Lt. Ehren Watada brave, many who served are calling him a coward.
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, Watada said in a written statement.
Watada tried to resign his post in opposition of the war, but the military refused. He now sits in a Florida base facing a possible court martial.
The new documentary called Sir, No Sir details military personnel in Vietnam who either refused to go to war or spoke out against it, including Mecklenburg County resident Ahmad Daniels. He was imprisoned for two and a half years for refusing to go to Vietnam, and he is now supporting Watada.
I think he's come to realization that it's an unjust war. It's an illegal occupation of another nation and he refuses to play a part in it, Daniels said. The fact that we have this lieutenant who says, I'm not going to Iraq, that says a lot. That's a good start.
The documentary was shown in dozens of cities Tuesday in support of Watadas cause.
Terry Beavers, a Vietnam veteran, is now a member of a Charlotte-based VFW. He was outraged to hear about the growing national support for Watada, especially since he voluntarily signed up to be a part of the military.
They have that right to agree or disagree, he said. They do not have a right to refuse lawful orders.
Beavers says following orders was critical to survive.
If they do not carry these orders out the machine breaks down, he said. If the machine breaks down, we lose.
Watada could face a dishonorable discharge and two years in prison for failing to follow his movement orders to Iraq.
SAN DIEGO SOLDIER REFUSES TO GO TO IRAQ
** Lieutenant Ehren Watada calls the war immoral and illegal. **
June 27, 2006
SAN DIEGO -- About two dozen anti-war demonstrators held a rally in front of San Diego's federal courthouse today to show support for an Army lieutenant who refused to go to Iraq.
Lieutenant Ehren Watada is being held in military custody at Fort Lewis, Washington, after he called the war in Iraq immoral and illegal. He is the highest-ranking soldier to refuse to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Reiko Obata, who organized the demonstration, said similar rallies were held in 33 cities in the United States and Canada.
DEMONSTRATORS RALLY TO SUPPORT SOLDIER REFUSING IRAQ DEPLOYMENT
** Lt. Ehren Watada Held In Custody In Washington **
June 28, 2006
SAN DIEGO -- About 30 anti-war demonstrators expressed support Tuesday for a Washington state-based Army lieutenant who refused orders to deploy to Iraq.
The activists held a rally in front of the downtown federal courthouse in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is in military custody at Fort Lewis, Wash.
Watada, who stayed behind June 22 when his brigade moved to another base to prepare for deployment, is the highest-ranking soldier to refuse to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Honolulu native reportedly said the war in Iraq was morally wrong and illegal.
"I think this is a turning point in the peace movement," said Reiko Obata, who organized the demonstration. "Many, many more people from within (the military) and without will say no to this war."
Similar rallies in support of Watada, who is half Japanese and half Chinese, were held in 33 cities in the United States and Canada, Obata said, adding that the demonstrations would grow when Asian-American populations became aware of Watada's stand as a conscientious objector.
Marjorie Cohn, an anti-war activist and professor at San Diego's Thomas Jefferson School of Law, told the demonstrators the United States is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and routinely violates the Geneva Convention.
Cohn cited as examples the seven Marines and the Navy corpsman indicted for war crimes in the death of an Iraqi civilian in Hamadania.
A larger investigation centers on the deaths of 24 Iraqis killed after a U.S. soldier died in a roadside bombing in Haditha.
Cohn said a hot line aimed at helping members of the military learn their rights was getting around 3,000 calls a month.
"There is tremendous dissension within the military," she said.
LIEUTENANT GARNERS NATIONAL SUPPORT
KGMB 9 News
June 28, 2006
A Hawaii man was the focus of rallies in 33 cities across the nation today. All were in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, the soldier who refused to deploy to Iraq with his Washington-based unit.
About 25 to 30 supporters rallied outside Fort Shafter at four this afternoon. They believe the war is wrong and that Watada has the right to refuse to fight, although he joined the Army voluntarily.
"What I really object to and why I really support Lt. Watada is because he's standing up against something where I have to say in a very emotional sense, I love my tribe. They are very important to me. I don't want to see their lives squandered in a situation where there is no military solution to what we've done," said protestor Warren Kundis.
When Watada did not attend the deployment ceremony last week, he was confined to his base. His commander is reviewing the situation to see if Watada should face a court-martial for refusing the order to go to Iraq.
"Without regard to Lt. Watada's case specifically, the obligations of military service are always taken very seriously, and responsibilities of officers who are commissioned by the president are taken even more seriously," Tammy Reed, Army spokeswoman at Fort Lewis.
Lt. Watada is not seeking status as a conscientious objector and the Army will not let him resign. So it's believed he will eventually be court-martialed.
RALLY BACKS REFUSAL BY SOLDIER TO GO TO IRAQ
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
June 28, 2006
About 20 activists took to State Road 7 outside military recruiting offices in Lauderhill on Tuesday to show support for an Army officer who has refused to participate in the Iraq war.
The protest was part of a nationwide rally to bring attention to 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a native of Hawaii who is confined to his Fort Lewis, Wash., base because he told his superiors he wouldn't deploy to Iraq.
Watada, who said he believes the war is illegal, faces possible sanctions.
The activists chanted, waved to passing cars, some of which honked in return, and held up signs with slogans like "War is Terrorism."
Organizer Lori Russell, of Coral Springs, was pleased with the turnout, which included members of Code Pink, the Raging Grannies and the Broward Anti-War Coalition.
"But mostly we want people to know that we don't want to be part of this war," said Marijo Beckman, of Delray Beach.
TO REFUSE TO SERVE
By Ret. Col. Ann Wright
June 27, 2006
Today, is the National Day of Action in support of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who, on June 22, refused an order to deploy with his unit to Iraq.
Watada said he could not participate in an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend Americas laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath.
Watadas refusal to deploy to Iraq raises ethical, moral, and legal questions, not only for him, but for other military personnel as well as for civilians. He believes the war on Iraq is a violation of international and domestic law and is therefore illegal. Watada says that as a military officer of honor and integrity he must refuse an order to participate in an illegal act.
Watada joins 10 other members of the U.S. military who -- as a matter of conscience -- have refused to either go to Iraq or to return there and have been court-martialed for their actions. Two are currently in prison for their stands. In addition, over 200 U.S. military personnel have gone to Canada to avoid being sent to Iraq, nine of whom have gone public with their war resistance. There are over 6,400 U.S. military are absent without leave (AWOL), while thousands who have returned from AWOL have been given administrative discharges instead of courts-martial. The military has not provided information on whether those who have turned themselves in were AWOL due to opposition to the war.
For Watada and those other military volunteers who have chosen to go public with their dissent from the war on Iraq, the path of conscience is not easy. By their actions, they challenge an administration whose policy of aggressive, pre-emptive war has placed those volunteers, the institution of the U.S. military and the nation itself in danger.
Refusing to obey an illegal order is a time-honored tradition in the U.S. military, but that refusal carries incredible risk. If the order is found by a military board of inquiry to be lawful, then the soldier is will be brought before a military court for trial.
Watadas public refusal to deploy to Iraq puts the military panel who will sit in judgment of his actions in a dilemma. The military has extraordinarily talented military lawyers who are well-versed in the laws of land warfare, the Geneva and Hague conventions, and the Nuremberg principles. Indeed, military lawyers were the strongest opponents of the decision by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to throw out internationally agreed to protections for prisoners of war and instead create a new, illegal term called enemy combatants. This legally meaningless phrase provides no protections for those detained on the battlefield and jeopardizes U.S. military personnel who end up in the hands of opponents. Now, these military lawyers must decide whether protection of an administrations illegal war of aggression is more important to the national security of the United States than recognition that, by the Nuremberg principles, military and civilians have a responsibility to stop their governments from committing illegal acts.
As a retired colonel with 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, and as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years who resigned in March 2003 from the State Department in opposition to the war in Iraq, I strongly support Watadas decision to publicly challenge the illegality of the war.
I hope that on June 27, as part of this National Day of Action, Americans will find ways in their communities to Stand Up with Lt. Watada. We should discuss the important moral and ethical issues that he and the other brave and courageous men and women have raised in their refusal to participate in the illegal war on Iraq. See www.ThankyouLt.org for a list of communities and activities scheduled for June 27.
As civilians, we also have a moral responsibility when we see an administration committing illegal acts. We cannot be silent and let this illegal war continue. Stand up for Watada and our country.
--Col. Ann Wright served in the U.S. Army for 13 years and in the U.S. Army Reserves for 16 years. She also served for 16 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps, and in that capacity helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001. She received the State Departments Award for Heroism as the acting U.S. ambassador during the rebel takeover of Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1997.
JUST SAYING NO
By Debbie Clark
June 28, 2006
--Delivered at a press conference at the King Center, Atlanta, Georgia, June 27, 2006.
It is my great honor and duty to be here today to share with others my support for the action of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada in disobeying an unlawful order to serve in a war that is both immoral and illegal, as well as to show my support for all military service members and their families who are now resisting this war.
Lt. Watadas refusal to obey orders to deploy to Iraq with his unit was not made lightly. It came about through much soul-searching and research that led him to the irreversible conclusion that to participate in this unlawful war of aggression would make him an accomplice to a criminal act.
Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse orders to Iraq and is also the first soldier to do so who is not a conscientious objector. His decision is based on legal grounds as well as moral, with the recognition that a soldier has not only the duty to obey all lawful orders, but also has the moral and legal obligation to disobey any unlawful order.
Lt. Watadas mother described her son as having "an unflinching commitment to his men and to democratic ideals" and said that he believes that he can best serve them by taking a stand against the war.
"In so doing," she said, "he demonstrates that one does not relinquish the freedom to choose what is right, even in the military, and that the freedom to choose what is right transcends the allegiance to man and institutions."
Lt. Watada is doing the right thing. As a U.S. Army veteran myself of eight years active duty, with five years in the military police and three years as a special agent in the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; as a former soldier who remembers very well being explicitly trained by the Army that it is the duty of a soldier to disobey any unlawful order and to comply with the Geneva Convention, I honor Lt. Watada for the courage to be true to his conscience and true to his oath of office as a commissioned officer to support and defend the Constitution and bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
Refusing to participate in an unjust and illegal war is an act of conscience that is also an affirmation of the rule of law. No soldier owes absolute allegiance to any military system. The legal authority of military command is grounded in the rule of law, which is based on the Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The Constitution has requirements for what branch of government has the power to declare war and for what purpose -- which is specified as being for the defense of the United States -- and also makes any treaties adopted by the United States the law of the land.
There is a point at which ones conscience and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Geneva Conventions, requires an individual to make the conscious decision to obey or not to obey what he believes to be an unlawful order.
With great courage, Lt. Watada made that decision.
There is one veteran who was not able to be here today to show his support for Lt. Watada, but who would have liked to. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, now retired, U.S. Air Force Major Kelley G. Culver, of Augusta, GA.
Major Culver has provided a statement in support of Lt. Watada, which I will relay on his behalf:
"In 1990, I was commander of an Air Force Combat Communication Squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. At the time of the deployment, I was opposed to the war because it was obvious that the true reason was not the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq, but the protection of American oil interests in the Persian Gulf.
"The true purpose of this war was obvious. The U.S. had been a supporter of Saddam Husseins government in the years prior to the war, and had previously turned a blind eye to Husseins activities. Suddenly in 1990, the United States was outraged at his actions. We went to war on a tapestry of lies.
"The current war in Iraq was also started on a tapestry of lies. Neither the situation in 1990 nor the situation today justifies the loss of American military men and women.
"In 1990, I opposed the war in the Persian Gulf, but I deployed and served in spite of my objections. My reasons, simply put, were that I had a career at stake. To refuse to deploy would have ended that career. I was not willing to pay that price.
"Today, we assemble in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, who realizing the illegal nature of the war in Iraq, has chosen to do what I could not do 16 years ago. People will call him a coward for his actions, but I can assure you, this is the action of a brave man.
"Today I add my support to the cause of Lt. Watada and I thank him for taking the stand that I was unable to take myself." --Kelley G. Culver, Major, USAF (Retired)
Military veterans can especially understand how hard of a path it is that Lt. Watada has taken, because, whether we served in war or during peacetime, we know what it means to live and serve under military authority.
But however hard it may be to stand up, any active duty service member today, whose conscience has been moved by what he or she knows in their heart to be wrong, can also take strength in knowing that the very same military authority that requires them to obey all lawful orders, also, if it is true to its own code, imposes upon them the obligation to disobey all unlawful orders.
--Debbie Clark [send her email] served eight years active duty in the US Army, is a former US Army criminal investigator, and the founder of Greater Atlanta Chapter 125 of Veterans For Peace. She has two daughters and one son-in-law.
HUNDRED GATHER IN RUN-UP TO NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR LT. WATADA
By Jeff Paterson
June 26, 2006
[10 photos & 1 poster image]
OLYMPIA, WA -- Organized by the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, a hundred supporters of Lt. Ehren Watada gathered near the Washington state capitol building yesterday. Holding signs that read Refuse Illegal War -- Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada, Lt. Watadas father Robert Watada and step-mother Rosa joined Olympians to span the centrally located Fourth Street Bridge.
The bridge overlooks the Port of Olympia where community members made international news last month by staging a ten-day blockade of the Armys 3rd Brigade Stryker combat vehicles in an attempt to stop them from shipping out to Iraq. The community is now focusing its attention on supporting Lt. Watada who was attached to this same Stryker brigade.
On June 22, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq War and occupation. Lt. Watada fulfilled his pledge to resist he first made at June 7th press conferences in Tacoma and Honolulu. He is currently restricted to Fort Lewis pending changes and a probably court martial later this summer.
Thirty cities across the United States and Canada are planning local actions as part of the National Day of Action to Stand Up with Lt. Ehren Watada on Tuesday, June 27.
City of San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO STANDS WITH LT. EHREN WATADA ON "NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION"
By Lori Hurlebaus
June 28, 2006
On June 27 over 150 people came to Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco to demonstrate their support of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada.
On June 22, 2006 Lt. Watada became the first U.S. military commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq and now faces possible court-martial charges for refusing to participate in the Iraq war and occupation.
"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. Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order," said Lt. Ehren Watada in a video statement which was played before the national media on June 7, 2006.
The rally opened with a sing-along performance by the "Raging Grannies" and the featured speakers were veterans Paul Cox, Michael Wong, and Aimee Allison, who spoke of their personal experiences resisting the military.
The crowd became still and solemn as they listened to Ehren Watada's voice over the sound system. Some became tearful as they listened to the interview of Ehren, by Sarah Olsen, discussing how he came to his decision to refuse an order to particiapte in the Iraq war.
"A lot of people including my parents tried to talk me out of it. And I had to tell them, and I had to convince myself first, that it's not about just trying to survive. It's not about just trying to make sure you're safe. When you are looking your children in the eye in the future, or when you are at the end of your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a very important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right decisions, I did so, even knowing there were negative consequences." Lt. Ehren Watada (excerpt from interview with Sarah Olsen).
During the course of the rally supporters wrote messages of encouragement and gratitude on large cards to be sent to Lt. Watada. Closing the rally with a rousing a capella rap performance, Galen Peterson engaged the crowd in a call and response.
On June 27, San Francisco was one of over 30 cities to participate in the "National Day of Action" to support Lt. Watada. Other cities included New York, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo, Atlanta, San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Kansas City, and more!
This is just the beginning in building momentum towards national actions around Lt. Watada's possible court martial date which is expected to be in August. Widespread public support can have an impact on the possible consequences that Lt. Watada may face for taking this couregeous stand. It is our responsibility, as civilians, to support soldiers who are standing up for true democracy and international, U.S., and military law by refusing to fight in this illegal war.
For more information on Lt. Ehren Watada visit: http://www.ThankYouLt.org