STIPULATION OF FACT
United States v. Ehren K. Watada
January 29, 2007
[Transcription of the fourth “stipulation of fact,” from page 7 of the above document]
“4. At approximately 1000 hours on 22 June 2006, 1LT Watada intentionally missed the movement of his flight to Iraq. 1LT Watada was manifested for the 22 June 2006 flight (Flight Number BMYA91111173). He knew of the manifest information regarding the deployment, including the date and time of his required movement, because the unit briefed him on numerous occasions in March, April, May, and June 2006, and specifically provided him the requisite documents detailing the manifest requirements. Additionally, LTC Bruce Antonia told 1LT Watada about the flight departing McChord Air Force Base on 22 June 2006, and specifically counseled 1LT Watada regarding the manifest details of the deployment. On 19 June 2006, 1LT Watada signed a counseling statement, acknowledging the requirement for him to deploy, to include the specific details of the movement (See Enclosure 2). When 1LT Watada missed the battalion manifest call early in the morning on 22 June 2006, LTC Antonia counseled 1LT Watada once again, ordering him to draw his equipment and report to the brigade manifest call (See Enclosure 3 -- this document was actually signed early on the morning of 22 June 2006, not 21 June 2006). Rather than attending the brigade manifest call, 1LT Watada remained in his office. Shortly thereafter, a bus took the deploying Soldiers from Fort Lewis to McChord Air Force Base. 1LT Watada chose not to board the bus. From there, at approximately 1000 hours on 22 June 2006, the deploying Soldiers boarded an airplane and departed McChord Air Force Base en route to Mosul, Iraq, via Flight Number BMYA91111173. 1LT Watada intentionally did not board the aircraft and as a result, missed the movement of Flight Number BMYA91111173.”
WATADA CASE MISTRIAL DECLARED
By Hal Bernton
February 8, 2007
[PHOTO CAPTION: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada drops off his mother in DuPont, Pierce County, for a news conference. In a surprise conclusion to Watada's court-martial, the judge declared a mistrial.]
[PHOTO CAPTION: Eric Seitz, center with back to camera, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's civilian defense attorney, is applauded by Watada supporters while leaving the Guesthouse Inn in DuPont, where a news conference was held after the judge's mistrial decision Wednesday.]
[PHOTO CAPTION: Carolyn Ho, Ehren Watada's mother, talks with members of the media Wednesday.]
FORT LEWIS -- Before his court-martial began this week, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada was packing boxes at his Olympia apartment in preparation for a guilty verdict and prison term.
Instead, the trial ended Wednesday as a mistrial when a judge rejected statements in a crucial pretrial agreement as unintended admissions of Watada's guilt. It is now unclear when -- or even if -- the 28-year-old Army officer will be tried on charges of missing a troop deployment to Iraq and officer misconduct.
Watada could face a new court-martial as early as mid-March and up to six years in prison rather than the four years at risk in this week's trial.
But Watada's defense team hopes the mistrial will give ample legal ammunition to get the case dismissed or to reach a settlement with Army prosecutors.
"It is our fervent hope that we can resolve this case without ever going back to court," said Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian counsel.
It was a surprise conclusion to a three-day trial marked by sharp clashes between Seitz and Military Judge John Head, who made a concerted effort to head off what he ruled was irrelevant testimony about the legality of the Iraq war that he had stated was for Congress, not courts, to decide.
Army officials portrayed the outcome as evidence of the military's effort to ensure a fair trial for the accused. Seitz said the government's case was deeply flawed because the judge had ruled that Watada could not fully explain his views to the panel.
Watada entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.
The court-martial unraveled over Head's misgiving about a 12-page agreement that Watada signed in January in a deal that cut two years off his possible sentence. In that agreement, Watada confirmed that he intentionally missed his brigade's deployment and signed a counseling agreement that acknowledged the "requirement to deploy," according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Seattle Times. [See #1 & #2 above.]
The defense and prosecution teams both believed the agreement did not constitute an admission of guilt. But the judge on Wednesday said the agreement included all the elements required to find Watada guilty. It was more than an agreement, Head said: It was what he termed a "confessional stipulation," with whatever reasons behind the action irrelevant to the question of guilt.
The judge was troubled by Seitz's request to put the motivation for Watada's action -- his belief that the war was illegal -- into instructions that would be sent to the jury.
While the panel remained outside the courtroom, the judge asked for permission to question Watada for a second time -- the first time was Monday -- about the agreement.
"You are not authorized to ask my client questions any time you choose to do so," Seitz said as he leaped to his feet to rebuff the judge's request.
Head said he needed to talk to Watada, otherwise he might void the agreement. He told Seitz to sit down.
"You are talking to me, I'll stand," Seitz said.
"Sit down," the judge said.
Seitz took his seat. Then, after the break, he agreed to allow the judge to ask about the agreement.
"What do you mean, you intentionally missed the troop movement?" Head asked, referring to the agreement.
"What I was saying was that I intentionally missed the movement because I felt like participating in that movement would make me a participant in war crimes and an illegal war. . . . I have always believed that I had a legal and moral defense," Watada told the judge. "I realize that what the government is arguing is contrary, but that does not negate that belief."
The judge was troubled by Watada's refusal to accept the statement as admitting all the elements of the charge.
"I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here," Head said. "And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract. Tell me where I'm missing something?"
A prosecutor, Capt. Scott Van Sweringen, asked for the judge to accept the agreement. The court-martial would then have moved on with the final phases of the trial -- the defense case, closing arguments, and deliberations by the panel.
But the judge rejected the agreement.
Prosecutors could have tried to move ahead with a disputed document that already had been handed out to the jury panel.
Instead, they chose to request a mistrial, which the judge quickly granted.
After the trial, Watada returned to his desk job at Fort Lewis, while his family joined supporters at a hotel gathering near the base.
"I am relieved because we were prepared for incarceration," said Carolyn Ho, Watada's mother. "That was pretty much the expectation by week's end."