Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Charges Filed Against War Dissenter Watada

BUT one lonely soldier did--Ehren Watada, stationed right here in Washington state. I blogged about him last month, when he first stood up & said, "Hell no!" (Loose paraphrase.)

Is it just me, or is the irony of charges being filed against an Iraq war resister on the day after the 4th of July too much to bear? (WaPo article, title bar.)

Lt. Watada is standing firm. He says that he came to the conclusion that our war on Iraq is illegal on grounds including, among others, the Nuremberg Principles—which Demon Princess is pleased to remind everyone came about in the aftermath of World War II for the express purpose of addressing what to do with the Nazis who hadn’t managed to escape to South America.

The Bushcons would have us all believe that the Western world has never had such a fierce & unrelenting enemy as the evil nebulous terrorist network we now face--& therefore should willingly let our own government spy on us (the potential “enemies within”) as well as without, supposedly—which hasn’t had any very great effect, especially in view of the fact that the spying programs have been in place since before 911. And look away from Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, & secret CIA renditions.

Anyway: correction, we as a nation have faced enemies as implacably, bitterly opposed to us, & far more effective at killing us. Not to deny the carnage, grief & pain caused by the latter, but compared to WWII, 911 and Iraq have been a walk in the park.
But George has forgotten his military history, never having been too keen on it in the first place, & he wants some company in his ignorance.
(SO…look deeply into my eyes & repeat after me: “Nothing this horrific has ever happened before, so be sure to vote for the GOP to watch over you as you safely sleep in your innocent beds at night.” Nothing this horrific has ever happened before…”)
* * *
Back to Watada: According to this Alternet news report Watada “first… concluded that the war violates the Constitution and War Powers Act, which, he said, ‘limits the President in his role as commander in chief from using the armed forces in any way he sees fit.’ Watada also concluded that ‘my moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders.’

“Second, he claims the war is illegal under international law. He discovered that ‘the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg principles all bar wars of aggression.’ The Constitution makes such treaties part of American law as well.

“These are not wild legal claims. Watada's conclusions are supported by mountains of evidence and experts, including the judgment of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who in 2004 declared that the U.S. invasion was "not in conformity with the U.N. Charter, and from our point of view ... was illegal."

How many others have resisted the Iraq war, if not as publically & boldly?

It has been suggested that the Pentagon underreports their numbers & downplays the effect.

“According to the Pentagon, the number of soldiers absent without leave is less than 1 percent of the total force. In 2005, 2,011 soldiers were reported AWOL, down from 4,483 in 2002.

“But Hildes, who has handled military-justice cases for about four years, said those numbers are far too low.

“The National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based human-rights group, hosts a hotline for military personnel who are absent without leave and want legal advice. The call center receives about 3,000 inquiries monthly, Hildes said.
“While peace groups want to spread dissent in the ranks, most soldiers are unmoved by deserters and objectors, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

"'Most would agree that military ethics don't give a choice about the mission,' he said. 'There are those who have mixed views about the mission, but there aren't a lot of people who feel soldiers have the right to refuse service.'

“O'Hanlon said the Army could create a morale problem if Watada were allowed to resign without facing discipline. But if Watada serves even a brief time in confinement, most will forget about him, O'Hanlon said.

“And if they want to affect military personnel, peace activists would be better off not focusing on the alleged immorality and illegality of war, he said.

"People in the U.S. military may not all believe the war was smart or necessary, but they don't believe it was immoral."
(Uh, duh--come again?)
Anyway, this report by Alternet, again, puts the figure of deserters at much higher numbers than the “official” estimate:

“...Watada's case comes amid a growing questioning of the Iraq war in all levels of the military. A February Zogby poll found that 72 percent of American troops serving in Iraq think the United States should leave the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the United States should leave immediately.

“While the 'generals' revolt' against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld didn't challenge the legality of the war per se, many retired military leaders have strongly condemned the use of torture and other violations of international and military law.

“According to USA Today, at least 8,000 service members have deserted since the Iraq War began. The Guardian reports that there are an estimated 400 Iraq War deserters in Canada, of whom at least twenty have applied for asylum. An Army spokesman says that ten other servicemen besides Watada have refused to go to Iraq.

“Resistance in the military played a critical role in ending the French war in Algeria, the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and the American war in Vietnam. Such resistance not only undermines the capacity of a government to conduct wars; it also challenges the moral claims that are used to justify them and inspires others to examine their own responsibilities.

“Watada's action comes as the issue of U.S. war crimes in Iraq is inexorably creeping into the public spotlight. Senator John Warner has promised to hold hearings on the alleged Haditha massacre. The U.N. Committee Against Torture has declared that the United States is engaging in illegal torture at Guantánamo and elsewhere. An investigation by the European Union has found overwhelming evidence of the rendition of prisoners to other countries for torture.

“Watada's highly publicized stand will no doubt lead others to ask what they are doing to halt such crimes. Unless the Army assigns him somewhere besides Iraq or permits him to resign his commission, he will now face court-martial for refusing to serve as ordered and possibly years in prison.

“According to an ominous statement released by the Army commanders at Fort Lewis in response to Watada's press conference: 'For a commissioned officer to publicly declare an apparent intent to violate military law by refusing to obey orders is a serious matter and could subject him to adverse action.'
"Watada's decision to hold a press conference and post his statements online puts him at serious risk. In theory, if the Army construes his public statements as an attempt to encourage other soldiers to resist, he could be charged with mutiny under Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which considers those who act 'with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny.'
"The conservative group Military 'Families Voice of Victory is already 'demanding the Army prosecute Lt. Watada to the fullest extent under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.'"
Aternet article:

Miscellaneous related fun stuff below.

History buffs, what follows is for you. Click away.

Nuremberg Principles:

Nuremberg Trials: (Wikipedia—read for broad historical outlines):


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