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You've probably read about Lt. Ehren Watada here on dKos or elsewhere in the blogosphere.  He's courageously facing court martial for refusing to serve in the patently illegal US invasion of Iraq.  His trial begins on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis.  Today I had the opportunity to hear him speak in the Community Rec Hall of tiny Coupeville, Washington.  If you're interested in an eyewitness account, please follow beyond the jump to hyperspace....

Coupeville, Washington, is a small, historic town on Whidbey Island, about 50 miles northwest of Seattle.  It lives in the shadow of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, but is nourished by its history, which far outdates the navy presence.  Its population is only about 1700, and yet, today, amidst snowy, icy conditions not conducive to gatherings, about 170 people came to the Rec Hall to hear Lt. Watada.  

The Lieutenant is a slight, soft-spoken man, but his remarks were a passionate indictment of the war and its creators, and an implicit indictment of a nation that would let such a thing happen.  He did not come across as crazy or angry, but his was luminously the quiet voice of truth speaking to power.  He does not have the eloquence of Dr. King, but, with that great American's birthday about to be celebrated by the nation Monday, I could not help but think of King.  

On an April day in 1967, I, a college senior, joined about a million of my fellow New Yorkers in the UN Plaza for a "Mobilization Against the Vietnam War" gathering, where we heard Dr. King speak powerfully about why that war was wrong and what we Americans needed to do about it. Here in Coupeville, on this wintry Saturday,  we had turned out in numbers roughly proportional to that historic throng in '67.  Then, spookily, as Lt. Watada concluded his remarks with a long quote from Dr. King's address "Beyond Vietnam", my thoughts came full circle.  

During the Lieutenant's remarks, and the lengthy Q&A that followed, a theme arose repeatedly:  we, as a nation, had not held the leaders accountable who misled us into Vietnam, and that failure thirty years ago had undermined our national integrity, thus enabling this new generation of warmongers. This courageous young soldier from Hawaii is doing what he feels he can and must to try to rectify the failures of an earlier generation by making sure this time, we say a "NO" that cannot be negated, and take seriously the idea that crime does not pay.

It is the Bush cabal who belong before the bar of justice at the Hague; Lt. Watada deserves the Congressional Medal of Freedom or some such honor, unlike those unworthies on whom Bush is prone to bestow such medals.  Inasmuch as you can, support the efforts of Lt. Watada and others like him to reveal the enormity of the criminality that is the Bush/Cheney war of choice.  And, of course, we need a different kind of President in 2009, one whom we could envision granting a pardon to Watada (if needed) and decorating him for his truly loyal service to the Constitution.    

Originally posted to penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:42 PM PST.

Poll

Which prospective 2009 President would be most sympathetic to Lt. Watada's cause?

1%8 votes
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90%404 votes
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0%2 votes
0%1 votes
0%2 votes
0%0 votes
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0%3 votes
0%1 votes
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| 446 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  oops, i forget; are tip jars still cool? (16+ / 0-)

    If so, I guess this is the mojo attractor!

    By the way, for the mystical among us, let it be noted that Lt. Watada's trial is scheduled to begin on the birthday of Adlai Stevenson.  I hope Adlai's wisdom may somehow leak into the minds of Lt. Watada's judges!

    "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

    by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:39:41 PM PST

    •  I knew I liked Watada! (6+ / 0-)

      we, as a nation, had not held the leaders accountable who misled us into Vietnam, and that failure thirty years ago had undermined our national integrity, thus enabling this new generation of warmongers.

      This is so on the money.  It is for this very reason, in relation to Nixon's pardon, that we are dealing with DimSon today.  Ford's action was proof that no good deed goes unpunished.  That one has bitten our collective ass and we're bleeding all over the place.

      Time to cauterize the wound.

      - 8.88/- 7.08 OMG! Everyone else is a conservative to me!

      by zedaker on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:47:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a (12+ / 0-)

    very brave officer.  He is taking on all kinds of flack.  If the young LT, is sentenced to prison, I can say the same thing.  He has taken a very bold stand against this administration and should be applauded from all angles.

    SITES: Do you think     President Bush and his advisers are guilty of criminal conduct in the prosecution of this war?

    WATADA: That's not something for me to determine. I think it's for the newly-elected congress to determine during the investigations that they should hold over this war, and pre-war intelligence.

    Truth to power my friend!  Stand up and be counted.

    WATADA: The constitution was established, and our laws are established, to protect human rights, to protect equal rights and constitutional civil liberties. And I think we have people in power who say that those laws, or those principles, do not apply to them — that they are above the law and can do whatever it takes to manipulate or create laws that enable them to do whatever they please. And that is a danger in our country, and I think the war in Iraq is just one symptom of this agenda. And I think as soldiers, as American people, we need to recognize this, and we need to put a stop to it before it's too late.

    Having served I have nothing, but respect!

    "Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see the world is moving." Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    by txlosthorn on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:52:13 PM PST

    •  I don't know txlosthorn... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      abbeysbooks, txlosthorn

      We typically seem to find a lot of common ground, but I'm not sure how I feel about LT Watada.  Here's my main problem:

      He didn't join the Army until after the Iraq War had started.  That said, if he thought the invasion of Iraq was so illegal, why did he join after the invasion?

      I mean, it's pretty clear that this war is unjust and probably illegal from the standpoint of international law.  But LT Watada is not operating within the realm of international law.  Instead, he's functioning within the confines of U.S. law.  And by that count, this war is legal.  It is the job of legislators to determine what the executive branch can and cannot do with the military.  If they have such a problem with this war (as they should), then it's their job to end it--not a junior officer's.

      I've been against this war since the initial buildup.  But when I was ordered to go, I went.  And when I got back, I left Active Duty, contacted my Republican congressman, and was invited to meet him face to face in Washington.  When I did, I told him all the things he didn't want to hear.  In my opinion, I think I did the best that could have been done, given the circumstances.

      The bottom line is that I have a real problem with soldiers who, at the last minute, decide they just don't want to participate--not when they have soldiers who they've trained with--soldiers who depend on them--about to head into the shitstorm.  That's neither the time, nor the place for such a decision.  And it's not how our system of government is designed to work.  

      •  I understand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Angry Rakkasan

        I like you would have gone about it in a very different way.  I would have handled myself the way you did.  I would have expressed my concerns to my wife, and carried out my duty.  

        For one, as an NCO I feel we are held to a different standard than that of officer's.  Right or wrong.  However, I say that not having been in a combat arms MOS.  Officers were not with my soldiers daily except at first and final formation.  As an NCO, as you were, we have an inherent responsibility to the soldiers that are assigned to us.  I would not have upset that role, because I would not that to be the example that I set for my troops.

        Secondly, I would not have had the balls to just out and out defy a movement order.  Brother, you have to admit that it balls.  You aren’t just taking on the immediate chain-of command.  You are pretty much tasking that son of a gun to the max.  I sure this case isn’t being watched all the way to the SecDef.  

        Rakkasan I am not saying he is right or wrong.  I am saying he is a brave fellow.  It is a strong statement to be made.  In 1995, there was a Specialist refusing to go with his unit to Macedonia with the UN.  Something to do with serving under foreign military or something.   At the time I said the joker was stupid but his a brave son of a gun to be bucking the system the way he was.  But at the same time I was SPC.  

        As for LT Watada, if I were still in the military, I might not be saying the same thing, but having been out now for a few years my views have changed a lot.

        Nothing but respect to you Brother.  

        "Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see the world is moving." Elizabeth Cady Stanton

        by txlosthorn on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 07:53:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  a bunch of counter points (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        acquittal, sja, The Angry Rakkasan
        1. here in Coupeville, someone asked him why Watada had joined up.... he said he HAD believed all the lies, but subsequently learned more facts, which opened his eyes... the first step to anew path is to admit the old path was in error!
        1. Watada argues, contrary to your argument, that our treaty obligations, which are second only to the Constitution, make the war illegal under US law, as it so patently under international law, and the treaties we have signed which integrate key elements of international law into ours  (Kofi Annan, belatedly, stated his judgment that the war was illegal, and it seems pretty clear to those not blinded by BushCo rationales).
        1. Remember Nuremberg.... unlawful orders are not binding, and, per international treaty obligations, all orders which culminated in the invasion of Iraq are per se unlawful.
        1. We can all respect the way you chose to express your qualms.  Thank you for speaking truth to your GOP Rep.  But, having met him, I believe Watada is deserving of at least as many thanks from all of us for putting his career (and possibly his liberty) on the line for these important legal principles.... maybe his willingness to risk will help wake some of those legislators up!

        "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

        by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:06:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary, Penncove (7+ / 0-)

    He should not be convicted. But I'm worried that he will be as was Sgt. Benderman, another hero who refused to return to Iraq.  While the judge did throw out some of the more obvious trumped up charges, he was convicted of 'missing movement' and given a very harsh sentence of 15 months in jail.

    One day, these soldiers will be seen as the real heroes imo. I remember calling Sgt. Benderman's commanding officer at the time of his trial and spoke for over an hour to the soldier who answered the phone. He told me at first he did not agree with those who refused to return to Iraq. But when I told him why Sgt. Benderman was refusing, he changed his mind and agreed that no soldier should be asked to follow illegal orders. I hope the climate has changed enough that the outcome of this trial will be different.

    Speak your truth quietly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story - Max Ehrmann

    by Catrina on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:55:30 PM PST

  •  If you want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tovan

    If you want a different kind of president then Al Gore is your only option.

    Best Wishes, Demena

    by Demena on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 04:55:49 PM PST

    •  I am very close to agreeing...... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demena, dolphin777

      When I designed the poll, I was torn.  I included the "likely Repubs" for the sake of Lincoln and TR and John Chafee, though I despair of anybody of that caliber being a GOP Prez any time soon.

      I included Kucinich because he's declared, and would probably honor Watada, although the CW certainly thinks he's only marginally more likely to be POYUS in '09 than I am.

      I threw in Spitzer and Webb because they're intriguing, sexy longshot, darkhorse, outsidethebox ideas.

      But, when I look ahead to DNC Denver 2008, I keep seeing Gore as an objective-historical-environmental imperative.  Will he rise to the occasion?  Will we?  

      Stay tuned.  

      "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

      by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:33:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think any of them would be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    txlosthorn

    A Democratic president is not going to accept soldiers refusing to go where he orders them to go any more than a Republican president would.  It's not like JFK or LBJ intervened to stop court-martials of this sort either.

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:12:09 PM PST

    •  if this is so, WW2 was in vain............. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, dolphin777, Empower Ink

      Two words:  Nuremberg Principles.

      Three more: United Nations Charter.

      If the future Democratic presidents we want to elect can not recognize the simple, ineluctable correctness of Lt. Watada's Article 6 and Nuremberg arguments against the Iraq adventure, what hope is there for America and the world?!?!?!

      I refuse to give up on the hope that inspired an earlier generation to create the UN.  International Law has been crapped on by both D and R presidents over the last half-century, and darnit, that's a good part of why this country's diplomatic standing has declined.  

      There are lots of tranformative reforms that we need as a nation:  fraud-proof paper-trailed elections; public financing of political campaigns; quality health care as a right; and a recommitment to the principles of International Law.

      If President Gore, Kerry, Obama, Hillary (or whoever) simply refrains from giving illegal orders, s/he will not have to worry about soldiers of conscience who recognize that the treaty obligations of the US outrank the orders of any transient C-in-C.  

      "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

      by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:28:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ah but that's the rub (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        txlosthorn

        No president believes that the orders they're giving are illegal. Therefore they believe that anyone violating them is violating a legal order, and they will not pardon them.

        "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

        by Delirium on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:30:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i was not speaking of beliefs.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          txlosthorn, dolphin777

          ...but what one of Big Dog's impeachment defense lawyers called, "those pesky little facts"....

          so the delusions of dictator-wannabes are not at issue here.  the basic principles of international law are no less clear for all the abuse and neglect they have suffered over the last century, and to refuse to insist on their critical importance is to surrender to the cynicism which is a necessary precondition to the rise of paternalistic dictatorship

          If Pres. Hillary, a smart lawyer, chose to misread the principles of international law to start an illegal war I would hope we would be as eager (albeit saddened that she bore the "D" brand) to impeach her as we are to see BushCo face justice now!

          "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

          by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:39:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  and one further clarification........ (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dolphin777, Empower Ink

          Also, i should stipulate here that I was looking ahead to a future president who might pardon this current Lt. Watada, because s/he recognized the illegality of the Bushco war  (somewhat the way Carter's amnesty for Vietnam war resistors implicitly recognized the wrong of Vietnam, although falling short of holding the responsible misleaders accountable.

          Obviously no president thinks their orders are illegal.  This is for one of two reasons:
          either the pres. in question abides by the constitution and the treaties we are signatory to, or the pres. in question is a deluded monster like Bush or Nixon.    

          Let us hope our Democratic Party can produce a president who is in the former, law-abiding, category.

          when a wayward regime leaves power, their misdeeds are buried in Fordian forgetfulness only at the cost of the soul of the nation they ruled.  This is why they had Truth & Reconciliation Commissions in places like South Africa and Argentina; why the people of Chile pursued justice for Pinochet for decades; it's why Nuremberg matters!

          "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

          by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:45:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this Diary, Lt. Watada is a hero! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chesapeake

    I would have gone to hear Watada speak today, but I had surgery yesterday (in Coupeville), and I'm still in some pain.

    Operation Cover Bush's Ass - OCBA

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:25:19 PM PST

    •  hey, WGH client! (0+ / 0-)

      hope your surgery at WGH went well.

      how far did you come to Coupeville from for the surgery?

      "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

      by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:47:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes it went very well (0+ / 0-)

        The news from the biopsy was very good!
        I live about 10 minutes from town.
        I've stood for peace on Saturday mornings with the other folks at Hy 20 and Main St a number of times, most recently in November.

        Operation Cover Bush's Ass - OCBA

        by Lefty Coaster on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 07:40:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Letter to the editor (0+ / 0-)

    in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin

    If 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is to be court-martialed and sent to prison because of his refusal to be deployed to Iraq, shouldn't the president of the United States, who instigated the war in Iraq under disinformation and under the false pretext of something nonexisting, be impeached?

    And, I voted for Obama since they are both hometown boys.

    "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

    by hono lulu on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:30:09 PM PST

    •  aloha, friend (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      txlosthorn, dolphin777

      Watada during the Q&A here in C'ville said that the Hawaii congresscritters aren't being very supportive.

      Whats up with that?

      I thought Abercombie was pretty cool.  He seemed solid on Countdown the other day grilling Condoliezza.

      Any local efforts in the islands to pressure the Fab 4 (Akaka, Inouye, Hirono and Neil) to be more supportive of their heroic homeboy Watada?

      "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

      by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:50:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  just off the top of my head (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, dolphin777

        I think I saw something that said the 442nd/100th battalion vets weren't real happy about it. Inouye, of course, is their patron saint.

        And all of them except Mazie are heading up some kind of military committee or another. IMHO, Abercrombie left his anti-war hippies days far behind and has eagerly drank from Dan's pro-military cup. One cannot underestimate the huge amount of military $$ the 3 of them bring home.

        Mazie was explicitly anti-war during the campaign but as the newbie, I don't know how many waves she'll make.

        Short answer: don't hold your breath

        "I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing." -Molly Ivins

        by hono lulu on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 06:16:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Some thoughts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chesapeake, txlosthorn, Empower Ink

    Perhaps the most important part of your diary:

    During the Lieutenant's remarks, and the lengthy Q&A that followed, a theme arose repeatedly:  we, as a nation, had not held the leaders accountable who misled us into Vietnam, and that failure thirty years ago had undermined our national integrity, thus enabling this new generation of warmongers.

    In the last week of 2006, the nation dealt with the death of President Ford--the only president I had ever seen in person. At the time, many here spoke with disdain about Ford's pardoning of Richard M Nixon. Many who wrote blamed Ford's presidency for the nurturing of at least two--and possibly more--of today's proponents the administration's war and occupation of Iraq:  Rumsfeld and Cheney.

    Never again must we fail to take to the bar of justice those who have broken the laws of the nation. Legal punishment of law breakers does serve as a deterrent to breaking the law (except perhaps in the case of the death penalty).

    •  amen, amen, amen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chesapeake, txlosthorn

      and, did i say, amen?

      it's an old biblical principle....

      forgiveness follows confession....

      and in the courts of law, forgiveness can even follow conviction without confession, with due time or extenuating circumstance....

      but what Ford did was in effect an offering to a dark deity more akin to the protection rackets than the noble principles of law......

      "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

      by penncove on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:53:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I met Lt Watada's parents when they did (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chesapeake, txlosthorn, Empower Ink

    their speaking tour on his behalf in October.  His father is a Vietnam era conscientious objector who served in the Peace Corp and represented his courageous son well.  The Army may want to destroy this fine young man but he will live out his life knowing he made the right choice.  I never had that kind of courage.

  •  There are folks out there (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chesapeake, txlosthorn

    in blogtopia talking about the Lt.

    t. Watada Speech at Oahu's Church of The Crossroads
    By carlosdamackeral
    Lt. Watada, now undergoing court-martial for being the first US Commissioned Officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, recently gave a talk at Oahu's Church of the Crossroads.
    ShoutWire.com - http://www.ShoutWire.com/

    Rally protests Watada court martial; Military subpoenas reporters
    The Rev. Dorsey Blake, visiting professor at Starr King School for the Ministry, addresses a support rally Jan. 4 at the federal building in San Francisco. PWW photo by Marilyn Bechtel. SAN FRANCISCO — As the Feb. ...
    Military School Zone - http://www.militaryschoolzone.com

    Examing Bully Boy's base
    By cedricsbigmix
    Turning to news of war resistance, Ehren Watada became the first officer (June 2006) to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and now faces a February 5th court-martial. He is scheduled to speak tomorrow at the Coupeville Recreation Hall, ...
    Cedric's Big Mix - http://cedricsbigmix.blogspot.com

    Lemon & Rice Soup in the Kitchen
    By Trina(Trina)
    Starting with US war resister Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war. Last Thursday, at the Fort Lewis Army, a military pretrial, presided over by Lt. Col. ...
    Trina's Kitchen - http://trinaskitchen.blogspot.com/...

    "Public Inacation dismays Watada" (Paul Nyhan)
    By Common Ills
    Ehren Watada turned to the public Friday, urging it to get involved in the ... Seven months ago, Watada made headlines when he refused to deploy to Iraq with a ... On Friday, Watada continued to talk, wondering about the lack of public ...
    The Common Ills - http://thecommonills.blogspot.com

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 07:42:53 PM PST

  •  I wish I had seen this diary when it came out. (0+ / 0-)

    I found it via a link at D.Kucinich's website.  :)
    I have previously heard about Ehrin. He's a truly hero and needs our support.

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