Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Watada: conduct unbecoming an officer, gentleman

* Amy Goodman had Ehren Watada on demnow again:
"Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq, has been charged again by the military, this time for 'conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen.' We speak with Watada about the latest charges. [includes rush transcript]

Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen. That is the latest charge that Lieutenant Ehren Watada was hit with on Friday by the Army. Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq. On June 22nd, Watada refused to deploy with his Fort Lewis based unit and he was subsequently charged with one count of missing troop movement, two counts of speaking contemptuously of the president and four counts of acts unbecoming an officer. Army spokesman Joe Piek said that this latest charge is based on Watada's remarks last month at the national convention for Veterans for Peace. At that convention Watada attacked the Bush administration for waging a war "for profit and imperialistic domination" and urged soldiers to refuse to fight. Watada faces eight years in prison.

I spoke to Lieutenant Watada on Saturday night at the Seattle Town Hall. I began by asking him his response to the latest charges.
AMY GOODMAN: Lieutenant Watada faces eight years in prison. I spoke to him on Saturday night in Seattle at Town Hall. I began by asking him his response to the latest charge.

1ST LT. EHREN WATADA: On Friday, yesterday, I was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, another count that was added onto the charges already that the military has referred to me based on the speeches that I had made kind of saying why I was not deploying, my beliefs on what the administration was doing. And I made another speech recently at the Veterans for Peace conference. And because of that speech, they then charged me again.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your response to that charge, conduct unbecoming an officer? What did you say at the Veterans for Peace convention?

1ST LT. EHREN WATADA: I said many things. Basically I was talking to the peace activists, people who I believe are on the frontlines working for an end to this war and for peace and justice in general. And I was speaking to them generally to say that all Americans have a responsibility to support those service members who are trying to do the right thing. And I was basically saying why I believe this and telling them how they can help out soldiers, service members, who are resisting this war.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you come to the conclusion -- you are the first officer to resist deploying to Iraq. How did you come to the conclusion that it was wrong?

1ST LT. EHREN WATADA: For me, there were many things. The most important thing for me is that in our democracy, according to our constitution, one person, one man, cannot hold absolute power, hold himself above the law, including in actions in declaring war or waging war on another country. And it is my belief that in deceiving the American people, through which a majority of us now know to be true, the leaders of our country were violating their oath to this country and violating constitutional law. That was the main reason. Other things that led me to this decision was the rampant abuses of American and international law and the conduct of the occupation and then the conduct of this war. And I just felt that the policies that were made were forcing soldiers, including myself, to commit actions that violated international and domestic laws.

AMY GOODMAN: So what happens to you now? How many counts, how many charges have been brought against you?

1ST LT. EHREN WATADA: Basically, there’s one count of missing movement, which has a maximum penalty of two years; two counts of contempt against officials, which is another two years, specifically contempt against the President of the United States; and now four charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, all total about eight-and-a-half years."


oldschool said...

The country searches for a patriot. Occasionally, most often even, Russ Feingold looks like a patriot. But not always; maybe it comes with the territory for each and every Senator, no matter how hard they try.

Without doubt, however, Lt. Ehren Watada is a patriot.

lukery said...

we'll have some gsf news on watada in the next day or two :-)

lukery said...

(sibel is in the 'patriot' category too)

Kathleen said...

Yes, Sibel is a true patriot, tooo. People who make tremendous sacrifices for our wellbeing deserve our continued support and thanks. I'm very grateful to Sibel and Ehren for their courage.