All the more significant to conduct a public dialogue Citizen's Hearing in light of Army Judge's ruling;
Inviting public, military families, troops, veterans, any and all to
Citizen's Hearing to put Iraq war on trial;
the case of Lt. Ehren Watada
January 20-21, 2007
(10 am-4 pm)
1210 6th Ave (map)
Tacoma, Washington, USA
The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus
Read articles in Washington newspapers; google Lt. Ehren Watada - news to see the reports across the country.
Seattle Times article; Jan 17, 2007; Watada can't base defense on war's legality, judge says
Tacoma News Tribune, Jan 17, 2007; Judge rejects Watada motions
Michael Gilbert, The News Tribune, Jan 17, 2006
An Army judge sided with government prosecutors Tuesday and rejected Lt. Ehren Watada’s defense that he refused to deploy to Iraq because he believed the war is illegal.
The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, also denied Watada’s motion to dismiss four of the five charges against him on the grounds that he was exercising his right to free speech.
Watada’s lawyer said he was “disgusted” at the rulings and said they leave little room for argument when the former Stryker artillery officer’s court-martial begins Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis.
“I’m appalled, but not surprised,” defense attorney Eric Seitz said. “We’ll have a hearing, a couple people will testify, the government will make their argument, and everybody will fall in line, because that’s what happens in military cases.”
Watada, 28, faces up to six years in prison if convicted of one count of missing movement and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.
The Army filed the charges after Watada publicly refused to go to Iraq in June with his unit from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The 4,000-soldier brigade is currently operating in Baghdad.
The Army issued a brief press release Tuesday evening announcing Head’s decisions, reached after a daylong hearing Jan. 4. A Fort Lewis spokesman said prosecutors would not comment.
Seitz released copies of Head’s two three-page orders. (To read them, see FOB Tacoma at blogs.thenewstribune.com/military)
Seitz had hoped the judge would allow him to present a “Nuremberg defense,” derived from the post-World War II tribunals that established a soldier has an obligation to disobey an unlawful order.
But Head wrote that the legality of the Iraq war is a political question and not one for the courts.
And past cases have established that a soldier’s motives are irrelevant when he or she is charged with missing movement, the judge ruled.
Seitz had argued for dismissal of the conduct unbecoming charges on the grounds that the statements were protected by Watada’s First Amendment rights.
At a press conference, in interviews and in a speech at a Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Watada condemned the Bush administration for what he called “a betrayal of the trust of the American people.”
“And these lies were a betrayal of the trust of the military and the soldiers,” he said.
Head cited previous cases in the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that held service members’ free-speech rights are limited.