On Tuesday and Wednesday, the case of Lt. Ehren K. Watada, the first commissioned officer of the U.S. military to refuse to deploy to Iraq on the grounds the war is illegal, received some regional coverage, but the nation's national newspapers continued to ignore the story.  --  On Wednesday, the Hawaii TV channel KHNL-8 posted most of the transcript of a three-and-one-half-minute piece that appeared on the evening news, along with a video link.[1]  --  After an introduction by anchors Sharie Shima and Howard Dashefsky, a calm, poised Lt. Watada is seen walking outside and in his home with his attorney before sitting down to speak with reporter Diane Ako.  --  Facing years of prison for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and, in addition, charged with making contemptuous statements about his superiors and conduct unbecoming an officer, Ako says that "Watada is unfazed.  'There is a sacrifice to be made. Again, that's why I joined the military:  to sacrifice my life and liberty to ensure the laws and values of our country are upheld. . . . I began reading what got us into the war in the first place and the conduct of the occupation at the time, and the overall feeling I got was that I felt betrayed by my leadership.  I felt that going into a war waged out of deception, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."  --  As Lt. Watada speaks these words, KHNL shows brief clips of President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  --  Watada concludes:  "I took and oath when signing up and I took that oath very seriously.  It says that I, Ehren Watada, will swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."  --  The News Tribune of Tacoma, WA, the largest daily near Fort Lewis, WA, published a column Wednesday describing Lt. Watada as "a patriot . . . calling attention to what he believes are violations of the U.S. Constitution and the Army’s Law of Land Warfare. . . . [H]e sits at Fort Lewis, subject to a possible eight years in prison, for speaking out against a war he believes is in violation of the norms of combat and law, as well as the ideals of justice on which our nation was founded."[2]  --  The author, John Burbank, is the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle.  --  On Tuesday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on Watada attorney Eric Seitz's talk at a Seattle Lutheran church Monday evening.[3]  --  Seitz called Lt. Watada's chances of acquittal "probably not very good."  --  Mike Barber reported that Watada's Article 32 hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16-17.  --  On base, Lt. Watada is "being treated with a great deal of respect" by fellow military.  --  "Instead of being shunned, Seitz said, Watada has received handshakes from soldiers who say that although they officially can't support him, they appreciate his courage."  --  Also on Tuesday, Oregon Public Broadcasting posted a brief story on Eric Seitz legal strategy in the Watada case.[4] ...

1.

Only On 8

WATADA DEFENDS HIMSELF
By Diane Ako

KHNL-8 (Hawaii)
July 12, 2006

http://www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp?S=5142935

SEATTLE -- Say the name Ehren Watada these days, and you're likely to get into a passionate debate about the war in Iraq. He's become a focal point for people's feelings about the war, oftentimes very strong passionate feelings. The Hawaii native agreed to talk to KHNL News8 exclusively about the controversy he's generated.

In June he chose not to deploy to Iraq with the rest of his unit because he says the war is illegal. The military is pursuing three charges against him -- missing movement, contempt towards officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. His lawyer says Watada's prison term could be up to seven and a half years.

Watada is unfazed. "There is a sacrifice to be made. Again that's why I joined the military: to sacrifice my life and liberty to ensure the laws and values of our country are upheld."

Watada doesn't feel he should be court martialed but says he's willing to serve prison time as the price to pay for his actions. KHNL reporter Diane Ako asks, "A lot of people feel you're a coward for doing this, and that you're not fulfilling your duty. And that you also should pay back any money you might have received to go to college."

Watada says he is no coward. "I began reading what got us into the war in the first place and the conduct of the occupation at the time, and the overall feeling I got was that I felt betrayed by my leadership. I felt that going into a war waged out of deception, the administration had lied by manipulating intelligence and deceiving the people, I thought there could be no greater crime."

As for those college benefits -- "I did not receive any money from the army to go to college."

He says he joined because of 9-11. Many accuse Watada of betraying his country -- and not fighting the war on terror. "I took and oath when signing up and I took that oath very seriously. It says that I, Ehren Watada, will swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

He hopes to get Americans more politically involved -- no matter how they feel about his own actions. "I think that's what I want -- people to be aware. Whether they support what I'm doing or are against it they still need to be aware there is a war being fought in Iraq."

Watada's first military hearing will be on August 17. It's an article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a grand jury investigation. The results of that could trigger a court martial.

2.

Opinion

TRUE PATRIOTS DON'T SHUT THEIR MOUTHS, SIT ON THEIR HANDS
By John Burbank

News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
July 12, 2006
Page B7

http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/columnists/story/5935101p-5234687c.html

In his inaugural address almost a half century ago, John F. Kennedy defined patriotism: “My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

In contrast to Kennedy’s call to contribute to the common good, the current president tells us we can go to war and have a tax cut, too. He urges us to help our country by going shopping. And we do.

But patriotism is not about shopping or flag-waving. We are patriotic when we volunteer in our kids’ PTA, help out at the local food bank, coach our kids’ soccer team, landscape a neighborhood park, take some time to visit with a grieving friend or neighbor.

We fall short as patriots when we choose to not act, not vote, not protest. We commit these failures collectively, as well as individually, when we resign ourselves or actively support political decisions that undermine the greater good and endanger our democracy.

In this anniversary month of our nation’s independence, we can learn from three individuals who embody patriotism, sacrifice, and conviction, who serve as role models for our children and ourselves.

One is Army Spc. Washington Santos.

Santos is stationed down the road at Fort Lewis. He became a U.S. citizen, along with nearly 500 other people from 76 countries, at an Independence Day ceremony in Seattle. He is an immigrant from Brazil. Now he is serving his new country as a grunt willing to take on the dangers of combat, to protect our country. That’s patriotism where it counts.

Another patriot, a friend named Joe Crump, died last weekend. Joe was the political director of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Washington.

While still in high school, Crump started work at a local grocery store. In his early 20s, he was voted in as president of his union. And from there on, he worked to defend the wages and benefits of his members: the folks who stock the shelves, check out your groceries and can tell you where to find the toothpaste.

As an African American, Crump grew up in a country in which segregation was legal and racism accepted. He sensed the lingering undercurrents of racism, and he never let it get in the way of his effectiveness and organizing.

Crump came to our state from Michigan a few years ago to help his union members create a political voice for themselves. And he did, in a big way. He got his members to translate their patriotic notion of universal health coverage into a doable policy advancement. He was a patriot.

The third individual also is at Fort Lewis, only he is now accused of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. First Lt. Ehren Watada is a member of the Stryker force just deployed to Iraq. He refused to go. He believes that “the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong, but a horrible breach of American law.”

This man is a patriot. He signed up for service after Sept. 11, 2001. He wanted to serve his country. And he is a patriot now as well, by calling attention to what he believes are violations of the U.S. Constitution and the Army’s Law of Land Warfare.

Watada offered to be assigned to Afghanistan, but that offer was dismissed. So he sits at Fort Lewis, subject to a possible eight years in prison, for speaking out against a war he believes is in violation of the norms of combat and law, as well as the ideals of justice on which our nation was founded. He is paying the consequences for voicing the beliefs and doubts of the majority of his fellow citizens and many of the men and women who are being sent to fight in Iraq.

An immigrant signing up to defend his country, even before he became a citizen.

An unassuming union leader who advocated for his members and for the entire work force.

A volunteer for our armed forces who chose to speak out against this folly in Iraq.

As Americans, we need to search ourselves for what we can do for our country. Spc. Santos, Joe Crump and Lt. Watada have done just that.

--John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute (www.eoionline.org), writes every other Wednesday. Write to him in care of the institute at 1900 Northlake Way, Suite 237, Seattle, WA 98103. His e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

3.

Local

WATADA LAWYER SEES SLIM HOPES FOR ACQUITTAL
By Mike Barber

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
July 11, 2006

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/277131_watada11.html

The lead lawyer for Army Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who refused to accompany his unit to Iraq last month, says his client's chances of leaving the Army scot-free are slim.

"Our chances of winning and getting an acquittal are probably not very good," Eric Seitz said at Seattle's University Lutheran Church on Monday. He is in town from Honolulu to work on his client's case.

Seitz is a veteran lawyer who has handled many military cases, including many war resisters, since the Vietnam War in 1968. Instead of winning, the best chances are for reduced charges or a light sentence for Watada, Seitz said.

At Fort Lewis last week, the Army charged Watada, 28, of Hawaii, with one count of missing his unit's movement to Iraq, two counts of speaking contemptuously of President Bush and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. They could carry a maximum seven-year prison sentence.

Watada became the first military officer to refuse to go to Iraq on grounds the war there is illegal, saying he was duty-bound to speak up. He declined to declare himself a conscientious objector, saying he would fight in Afghanistan.

He was confined to Fort Lewis for a week after being charged. But Watada now is free to come and go from his home off-post, Seitz said. He also is assigned to a desk job with a headquarters unit while awaiting an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a pretrial hearing, on Aug. 16-17, the lawyer said.

"He's being treated with a great deal of respect," Seitz said. Instead of being shunned, Seitz said, Watada has received handshakes from soldiers who say that although they officially can't support him, they appreciate his courage.

Seitz, who is working with Watada's military defense counsel, Capt. Mark Kim, expected the lieutenant to be charged with "missing movements" by failing two weeks ago to board a bus with his Stryker Brigade, which was on its way to its flight to Iraq.

Seitz said he was surprised at the other charges because they appear to be a tactical blunder by the Army, opening the way for him to address the soldier's freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, the Army's charges also could force the service to get into a legal battle with the media over two reporters, one from California and another from Hawaii, who appear on the Army's witness list.

They are needed to corroborate statements upon which the charges concerning Watada's statements are based, Seitz noted. Information from Web searches alone is not credible evidence, he said.

Seitz said some comments the Army alleges Watada made were misquotes. A sentence that quotes Watada as saying, "How could I wear this horrible uniform now knowing we invaded a country for a lie?" should read, "this honorable uniform," Seitz said.

4.

OPB News

LAWYERS FRAME REFUSAL TO DEPLOY AS 'CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE'
By Deborah Wang

Oregon Public Broadcasting
July 11, 2006

http://publicbroadcasting.net/opb/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=939768§ionID=1

SEATTLE -- The defense team for first Lieutenant Ehren Watada is laying out its legal strategy in his case.

Last month, Fort Lewis-based Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. The army has charged him with missing movement, contempt towards official, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Lawyer Eric Seitz says he will argue that the Iraq war is illegal under U.S. and international law, and that Watada is justified in refusing to go.

Eric Seitz: "This is a case of someone who is engaging in civil disobedience, in essence. And while typically civil disobedience in the military is not something that people anticipate will be respected by the military, there is, however, a level at which, under applicable international norms, the military ought to be obligated to respect that."

Watada is expected to appear before a military court for a preliminary hearing next month. His commanders will then decide whether to pursue a court martial against him.

Attorney Seitz says the chances of winning an acquittal for Watada are slim in the military court system. He hopes Watada can avoid lengthy jail time.