After the U.S. Army rejected Lt. Ehren Watada's latest offer to resign, his attorney, Eric Seitz, told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that the Army seems "to want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada." -- The Star-Bulletin reported that Lt. Watada's Article 32 (pretrial) hearing, scheduled to begin Aug. 17, is expected to last "a few days." -- The Hawaii Channel commented that "It's looking more likely that Honolulu Army Lt. Ehren Watada will be court martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq." -- An Aug. 7 piece in the Maui News focused on Lt. Watada's father, Bob, who in ten years as executive director of Hawaii's Campaign Spending Commission "established a reputation as uncompromising and principled," filing charges "against nearly a hundred Hawaii companies for excessive and fraudulent contributions to elected officials and provid[ing] evidence that led to criminal investigations and charges against the officials who received the contributions." -- Reporter Edwin Tanji wrote: "'In my job, we had to follow the law, and everybody else, especially the candidates, they should have a very high standard in following the letter of the law,' Bob Watada said. 'I guess that translated into the beliefs of my son. . . . He was an Eagle Scout. Thats a fine program that impresses on them the need for honesty. We also teach our boys that they have to follow the law. People have to follow the law. We have a constitutional government. Its the same principle. We have laws, and we have a president who says the law doesnt apply to me, so we have things like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and the security leak over Valerie Plame. We know where that came from." -- The Pacific Citizen, a Japanese-American weekly in Los Angeles, reported on Aug. 6 that while the national took no position with respect to Watada other than to express concern at his being charged with contempt and conduct unbecoming an officer, on Jul. 10 the local Honolulu chapter voted, "after several weeks of debate and [by] a bare majority of board of directors," to support Lt. Watada, saying: "By supporting Lt. Watada, JACL Hawai'i honors our legacy of preserving the lessons of the World War II internment of Japanese Americans to ensure that such mistakes are never repeated nor revisited upon any other minority, and reaffirms our principled efforts to protect the Hawai'i Constitution." -- On Aug. 8, publisher Hoyt Zia published a strong statement of support for Lt. Watada in a column in Hawaii Business. -- Zia noted the many moral lapses in the conduct of Americans in recent years and concluded: "In a world where good people can easily find themselves in ethically challenging situations where it is easier and perhaps even rewarding simply to go with the flow and not make waves -- to keep quiet about corporate or government wrongdoing and maybe become enriched from it, or to close their eyes to atrocities against civilians and protect their buddies -- perhaps we should respect rather than condemn those who are willing to take a principled, though unpopular, stand on important issues and face the consequences. Otherwise, how do we teach our children to stand up for what they believe?" -- An Aug. 10 piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that on the evening of Sat., Aug. 12, Lt. Watada will address the national Veterans for Peace conference being held on the campus of the Univ. of Washington. -- Thanks to Sallie Shawl for sending the first piece....
ARMY WILL NOT ALLOW WATADA TO RESIGN
By Gregg K. Kakesako
** A pretrial hearing for the isle Army officer is scheduled for Aug. 17 **
August 9, 2006
The Army has rejected 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's offer to resign instead of facing a possible court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
This was the third time Watada, 28, has offered to resign his Army commission. He is scheduled to face an Article 32 pretrial hearing at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 17.
The pretrial hearing is equivalent to a preliminary hearing in a civilian criminal court, and is expected to last a few days.
The Army seems "to want to make a martyr out of him," said Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney. "If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
The Army seems bent on having a court-martial and sending Watada to prison, Seitz said.
"If that is the case, we will have a contentious court-martial," he said.
Last month, Watada told the Army he was willing to face a non-judicial hearing, resign his commission and accept a less-than-honorable discharge.
Two of his commanders rejected the offer, according to Col. James Lovejoy, staff judge advocate.
Last Friday, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, former 25th Infantry Division commander who now commands Fort Lewis, also rejected his offer.
Watada faces three charges of missing a movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Seitz has said Watada faces a maximum sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and dishonorable discharge.
It will be Dubik who will determine if Watada will face a court-martial based on the findings from next week's pretrial hearing.
Since his refusal to go to Iraq, Watada has been reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps.
The 1996 Kalani High School graduate enlisted in the Army in March 2003 -- the same month the United States invaded Iraq -- and was commissioned later that year. He served one tour in South Korea.
Watada has said that he wouldn't object to serving in Afghanistan.
Watada first offered to turn in his Army commission in January because he believes the war in Iraq is illegal and immoral.
Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is scheduled to face an Article 32 pretrial hearing at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 17.
That hearing is equivalent to a preliminary hearing in a civilian criminal court, and is expected to last a few days.
HONOLULU ARMY LIEUTENANT COULD BE COURT-MARTIALED
August 9, 2006
It's looking more likely that Honolulu Army Lt. Ehren Watada will be court martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq.
Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said the U.S. Army rejected any possibility of a settlement.
Lt. Watada faces a military version of a preliminary hearing on Aug. 17. It's expected that a court martial will follow.
Watada is being slapped with a number of charges including contempt and conduct unbecoming an officer.
He may face jail time and a dishonorable discharge and lose his pay.
DECISION HIGHLIGHTS CORRUPT AUTHORITY
By Edwin Tanji
August 7, 2006
HONOLULU -- As executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission beginning in 1995, Bob Watada says he was disturbed by a "culture of corruption" he could see in the attitudes of elected politicians and the people who gave money to keep them in office.
"Were talking about corruption in government. When I was with the Campaign Spending Commission, we could see this wholesale corruption going on, a whole culture of corruption," he said.
In the 10 years he served as executive director, Watada established a reputation as uncompromising and principled, not concerned at all about whose fingers his investigations may stamp on. In the process, he filed charges against nearly a hundred Hawaii companies for excessive and fraudulent contributions to elected officials and provided evidence that led to criminal investigations and charges against the officials who received the contributions.
The targets of his investigations included top Democrats such as former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, but there was no partisanship. He also investigated Republican congressional candidate Dalton Tanonaka, who eventually admitted to financing violations.
Bob Watada retired last year but is resurrected as a public figure standing behind his son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who has refused orders to deploy to Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. Ehren Watada is facing court-martial for his refusal to deploy with his unit, saying he believes the U.S. military action in Iraq and the orders of President George W. Bush are illegal.
"In my job, we had to follow the law, and everybody else, especially the candidates, they should have a very high standard in following the letter of the law," Bob Watada said. "I guess that translated into the beliefs of my son. Here the president is lying . . . We have a president who just tramples right over the Constitution.
"We have a president who has lied to the people. That was the problem for him (Ehren)."
While his son awaits court-martial proceedings scheduled to begin Aug. 17, Bob Watada has agreed to a public appearance on Maui, from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Maui Booksellers in Wailuku.
He also will be a guest on a live cable television program, "Crossroads," scheduled to be broadcast at 7 p.m. Wednesday by Akaku: Maui Community Television. For the "Crossroads" program, Bob Watada will appear with Ave Diaz, vice president of Maui Peace Action.
Bob Watada also is scheduled to participate in a "National Day of Education" on Aug. 16 on the issues that have been raised by his son -- the legality of the military action in Iraq. Peace activists around the country are reported to be planning public discussions on U.S. military intervention to precede the opening of the military trial for Ehren Watada.
Bob Watadas appearance on Maui stems from an inquiry by Maui Democratic Party leader Lance Holter, who like Bob Watada has served in the Peace Corps. Holter, who has a business in Paia, said he discovered Bob Watada had been a Peace Corps volunteer and invited him to speak on Maui.
Holter commended Ehren Watada, calling him an "outstanding young man."
"Im awe-struck by this mans bravery. He has taken on the entire American military machine and standing up for principles of honor and justice and American patriotism," Holter said. "There is no more patriotic man than this person."
Ehren Watada, 28, is a 1996 graduate of Kalani High School on Oahu. He is assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division based in Fort Lewis, Wash.
In taking his stand against deployment to Iraq, Ehren Watada offered to accept assignment to Afghanistan and alternatively offered to resign his commission.
He was charged with multiple counts of violations of military laws and could face up to eight years in prison as well as dishonorable discharge.
But a court-martial also will open for Ehren Watada an opportunity to raise the issue of the legality of the war. Under military codes, an officer has a right and a duty to refuse an unlawful order.
For his part, Bob Watada expresses pride in his son but declines to take credit for his sons attitude.
"He was an Eagle Scout. Thats a fine program that impresses on them the need for honesty," Bob Watada said. "We also teach our boys that they have to follow the law. People have to follow the law. We have a constitutional government.
"Its the same principle. We have laws, and we have a president who says the law doesnt apply to me, so we have things like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and the security leak over Valerie Plame. We know where that came from.
"This is a bigger issue than just my son. In our democracy, we have to really be concerned when there is a threat to our democratic government, whether it comes from within or without. In this case, the biggest threat comes from within."
He said his son directed him to information about the war in Iraq that convinces him the U.S. action is illegal and immoral, citing in particular information about the massacre of civilians during fighting in Fallujah. He said he found information on actions of the Bush administration "to parcel out the land of Iraq to their friends. . . . Here we have corruption at the highest level."
"To tell the truth, I didnt realize a lot of these things until he took a stand. It was when we discussed his decision that he said, Why dont you read this? Why dont you read that? "
For more information on Bob Watadas appearances, call Holter at 579-9442.
U.S. ARMY CHARGES JAPANESE AMERICAN 1st LT. WATADA
By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom
Pacific Citizen (Los Angeles)
August 6, 2006
First Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, has now been officially charged by the U.S. Army for his decision to refuse deployment to Iraq last month. He now faces three charges including missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer, and contempt towards officials.
Although national JACL has been mostly silent since Watada announced his decision in June, the organization has now come out with an official statement. Although they will not take a position on the officers refusal to deploy to Iraq, believing this to be strictly a military issue, they expressed concern over two of the charges: contempt and conduct unbecoming an officer.
We are not in a position to defend his position on the legality of the war in Iraq, nor are we in a position to judge his criticism of the wars morality, the national JACLs statement explained. That he defied a direct military order falls under the aegis of military law and beyond the reach of the JACLs authority based on the organizations mission statement.
The statement went on to say: However, the JACL does express its strong concern that Lt. Watada be given fair and balanced treatment in the charges brought against him . . . We find that the application of these two articles (contempt and conduct unbecoming an officer) raises questions about the intent of the Army to apply undue punishment to Lt. Watada because, as an officer of the United States Army, it appears he is being made an example.
The Japanese American community has been vocally expressing their opinions regarding Watadas situation -- the first Asian American officer to refuse deployment orders to Iraq -- including in this newspaper. Although many have expressed their support of the officer, some even calling him a hero, others, especially fellow veterans past and present, have expressed their disapproval.
And many have asked for and demanded JACLs official position on the matter. This is such a sensitive matter because of the community politics . . . the situation with our veteran members, said John Tateishi, JACL executive director. It was important as a civil rights organization . . . to make a statement regarding [Watadas] position.
On the contempt and conduct unbecoming an officer charges Tateishi reiterated: They dont make sense to me. The enhancements are basically to gag him. Although some veterans have compared the current Watada situation with the controversy a few years back over National JACLs apology to the World War II Resisters of Conscience, Tateishi does not think the two issues are similar. This is not the same issue as the Resisters, he said. I dont want to begin that debate all over again. And in fact, Watada has not been classified as a conscientious objector since he is not against all wars, just the current war in Iraq.
Prior to his refusal to deploy to Iraq, Watada had offered to serve in any other part of the world. He also offered his resignation but in the end all his offers were rejected and Watada decided to refuse his deployment. Watada believes the Iraq war is not only immoral but illegal and he now faces a possible eight years in military prison and a dishonorable discharge for those beliefs. He is currently assigned to an administrative position at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Back in Watadas home state of Hawaii, the Honolulu JACL has come out in full support of Watada, backing his decision to refuse deployment to Iraq.
The JACL Hawaii, Honolulu chapter supports Lt. Ehren Watadas thoughtful and deliberate act of conscience. We believe Lt. Watadas refusal to participate in a war that violates the U.S. Constitution and international law is a principled act of patriotism, the chapter said in their statement. We believe a staunch defense of the Constitution is in keeping with JACL Hawaiis primary mission of protecting the civil and human rights of all.
The decision of the Honolulu chapter came after several weeks of debate and a bare majority of board of directors voted to support Watada at the chapter boards meeting July 10. The Honolulu chapter also noted that their support of Watada does not mean they do not support the soldiers and their families who are currently fighting in the Iraq war. They also pointed to the historical lessons learned in the JA community, especially during WWII, as reasons for why they came to their decision.
By supporting Lt. Watada, JACL Hawaii honors our legacy of preserving the lessons of the World War II internment of Japanese Americans to ensure that such mistakes are never repeated nor revisited upon any other minority, and reaffirms our principled efforts to protect the Hawaii Constitution.
Although the Honolulu chapter has gone a step further in their support of Watada, Tateishi does not see their position as a conflict with national JACL.
We dont think that were out of alignment with them. Our position is reasonably close to the Honolulu chapter, said Tateishi, noting that no other AA organization or civil rights groups has come out vocally regarding Watadas situation.
Many believe the bottom line is, Watada is JA and as a member of the community fellow JAs feel an obligation to get involved with the debate.
Were brought into the debate because he is JA, said Tateishi, who disagrees with those who believe a fellow JA should automatically get the communitys support. I dont buy the fact that because he is JA he demands our support. If he was not JA, would that still be such a strong concern? I think not.
Although national JACL plans to largely stay out of any pending military court case for Watada, they will continue to monitor the situation.
Well wait to see how it develops, he said, but added, I believe history will judge him kindly . . . but at this moment it is a very unpopular decision.
HAVING THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS
By Hoyt Zia
[August 8, 2006]
In a recent letter to Hawaii Business, wealth guru and author Robert Kiyosaki questioned the relevance of what I write in this column to the readers of a business publication. His question is one I think about each month as I try to write something interesting and useful to our readers about issues that matter to me. I do strive to find topics of common interest that spring out of our shared experiences of living and working in Hawaii.
I also worry about offending readers with provocative issues, but sometimes theyre the ones that need to be discussed most. For example, there is the recent decision of a local boy, Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada, to refuse to deploy with his unit to Iraq because he believes it is an illegal war based upon lies and deception by our government. His decision, not surprisingly, evokes strong public reaction ranging from those who believe hes a coward and a deserter to those who believe hes a hero. Since he has not fled the country or gone into hiding but reports for duty each day, hes certainly not a deserter, and whether hes a coward or a hero is not the issue here. The question is whether we can learn anything from his decision.
With all the recent news about ethical and moral lapses in corporate boardrooms, government offices, and on Iraqi battlefields, its time to re-think what we teach our children about principles, values, and doing the right thing. Knowing right from wrong, however, is not always enough; after all, the Enron executives, the people who make and accept illegal campaign contributions, and the soldiers who commit atrocities in wartime all know right from wrong. What theyre lacking, it seems, is the courage or backbone to actually do right. How can we teach our children to have such courage?
Now Lt. Watadas decision triggered my own long forgotten memory. Thirty years ago I was a new Marine officer at the time of the first oil crisis when the lines at gas pumps had people talking about the U.S. invading a Middle Eastern country to take its oil. Id joined the Marines because I wanted to serve my country but that didnt include attacking another country for its oil, and I wondered what Id do if I were ordered to do that. Would I go, or would I, as an act of conscience and principle, refuse to deploy and risk court-martial, a dishonorable discharge, jail time, and a lifetime of stigma just because I thought it was wrong? Fortunately, I never had to make the choice, and I frankly dont know what I would have done. But Lt. Watada did.
In a world where good people can easily find themselves in ethically challenging situations where it is easier and perhaps even rewarding simply to go with the flow and not make waves -- to keep quiet about corporate or government wrongdoing and maybe become enriched from it, or to close their eyes to atrocities against civilians and protect their buddies -- perhaps we should respect rather than condemn those who are willing to take a principled, though unpopular, stand on important issues and face the consequences. Otherwise, how do we teach our children to stand up for what they believe?
ANTI-WAR VETERANS TO GATHER IN SEATTLE
By Mike Barber
** Sheehan, Perkins among speakers at event **
August 10, 2006
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and best-selling author John Perkins will headline a who's who of peace proponents this week as the national convention of Veterans for Peace convenes Thursday on the University of Washington campus.
At least 500 of the 5,000 members of Veterans for Peace are expected to attend, said William Schmidt, a Korean War veteran and the organization's local spokesman. The anti-war group was begun in 1985 by four U.S. veterans of various wars concerned about American use of its volunteer fighting forces.
The convention runs through Sunday, when its activities include veterans taking a bus to the Peace Arch in Blaine to meet U.S. war resisters from other conflicts who now live in Canada.
Although open to the public, the convention, which includes speakers, workshops, entertainers, and poets at the UW's HUB auditorium, is not free.
Admission Thursday is $75, Friday is $100 and a three-day package is $225. A banquet Saturday costs $40. A women's caucus dealing with issues such as sexual harassment in the military will meet every day. Information is available online at www.vfpnationalconvention.org.
Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq in April 2004, became the face of the anti-war movement a year ago, jump-starting it when she camped out for 26 days in August 2005 near President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq. She is in Crawford again this week to protest the war.
Sheehan is slated to speak in Seattle on Thursday night.
Perkins, the convention's main featured speaker, will speak Friday night. His best-selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, is based upon his 30 years in the private sector persuading Third World nations to accept enormous U.S. loans and become beholden to U.S. interests.
"It's an all-star cast of war resisters," Schmidt said.
On Saturday night, the convention is slated to hear from more speakers, including Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade soldier facing a military hearing later this month after refusing to deploy with his unit to Iraq in June. He calls the U.S.-led war in Iraq illegal.
Schmidt's own transition from soldier-at-war to anti-war activist reflects the motivations of many of the group's members.
"In Korea, the policy of containment of communism seemed logical at the time, and people like myself thought it was a just deal: 'We're stopping them.' In Vietnam, containment was the same thing. But when the war started to crumble, and with the loss of life, I thought no one should be in there. People will be in the streets protesting. I was right. It was a real turning point for me," he said.
"The 20th century has not been very good for me," he added, "and the start of the 21st has been awful. It's the body counts that get to me, not only of the soldiers, but the terrible civilian body counts."
In addition to war resisters of U.S. conflicts past and present, speakers and workshop facilitators include:
Ray McGovern, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst whose 27-year career spanned the administrations from Presidents Kennedy to George H.W. Bush and who is a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Dahr Jamail, a correspondent from Iraq for the Inter Press Service, whose dispatches are picked up by the Nation, the Independent, Flashpoint, and others.
Diane Benson, founder of Alaska's Native Performance and Film Commission, and mother of a soldier seriously wounded in Iraq during his second deployment with the 101st Airborne Division.
Michael McPhearson, a Desert Storm veteran and executive director of Veterans for Peace.
Simona Sharoni of the Peace and Justice Studies Association at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and an Israeli military veteran now associated with Israeli military groups, and author of "Gender and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
Marjorie Cohn, a lecturer and commentator on human rights and U.S. foreign policy heard on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and National Public Radio. She will wind up the convention with a talk titled "Supporting the Troops."
Veterans for Peace began its activism in the 1980s against Reagan administration incursions in Latin America. In addition to organizing against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the St. Louis-based veterans group's activities over the years have included organizing teach-ins on the 1991 Persian Gulf War, joining with veterans groups in Canada, Great Britain and Japan for a moratorium on global arms sales, arranging medical services in Bosnia and helping build a hospital in My Lai, Vietnam, site of the massacre of nearly 500 Vietnamese civilians March 16, 1968, by U.S. Army troops.
This will be the first time its convention has been in Seattle.
The organization in the 1990s received a permanent Non-Government Organization seat in the United Nations, and was the first veterans group named to the International Peace Bureau in Geneva.