Lt. Watada's Legal Limbo

As Democratic Presidential candidates call for troop withdrawal from Iraq, we cannot let the public forget the courageous stand taken by Lt. Watada in June, 2006, when he refused to deploy to serve in the illegal Iraq War and occupation.

No New Court Martial!
Dismiss All Charges!

Release Lt. Watada with an Honorable Discharge!
Lt. Watada's supporters are troubled that there has been no change in status since a preliminary injunction was issued on Nov 8, 2007.

Organize or participate in local efforts to inform the public of Lt. Watada's legal limbo.  Ck here for time, locations and contact info and call on others to join you in actively supporting Lt. Watada.  >>>

On Nov 8th, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle issued a preliminary injunction, stating that Lt. Watada is likely to succeed at demonstrating that the military judge acted 'irrationally, irresponsibly, precipitately' and abused his 'discretion.' (Read the points made by Judge Settle >>>)

Incredibly, the Army announced intent to file briefs in U.S. District Court to try to prevent the injunction from becoming permanent, then did nothing.  Each day the war continues.  Each day Lt. Watada's legal limbo continues. 

Nov 3rd, Rockland County, NY
First Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment

On June 22, 2006, U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada stepped forward as the first commissioned officer to publiclyrefuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation. He faces court martial and up to 6 years imprisonment for refusing to deploy and for speaking out against a war that he believes is illegal.

Produced by David Rothmiller & Trick Dog Films, Inc.

In support of his courageous action, the Lt. Ehren Watada Campaign is working to educate and broaden the dialog on constitutional rights. The campaign is also involved with mobilizing grassroots action to insure that our government upholds Lt. Watada's right to speak out and refuse to participate in illegal military action in Iraq.

Help us educate and mobilize others by signing the petition and making a donation to the Lt Watada defense fund.

National Action Continues

The fight is not over! Stand up with Lt. Watada and speak out against the illegal and immoral war!  Join the national movement and organize student walkouts and non-violent demonstrations.  Continue to build a mass movement in the streets, in our schools, and in our communities to end the Iraq War.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 March 2008 )

In The News

"DISSENT: VOICES OF CONSCIENCE"http://www.voicesofconscience.com/
When the actions of government become dangerous to the security of the nation, it takes a special courage for men and women inside the government to speak out. If we care about keeping democracy alive, we must welcome this book. "
—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the U.S.

During the run-up to war in Iraq, Army Colonel (Ret.) and diplomat Ann Wright resigned her State Department post. She was one among dozens of government insiders and active-duty military personnel who leaked documents, spoke out, resigned, or refused to deploy in protest of government actions they felt were illegal. In Dissent: Voices of Conscience, Ann Wright and Susan Dixon tell the stories of these men and women, who risked careers, reputations, and even freedom out of loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law.

Case Crumbles Against Officer Who Refused Iraq

by Aaron Glantz

Anti-War.com, Nov 10, 2007

First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq, won what his backers are calling a "huge victory" in court Thursday.

US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled the military cannot put Watada on trial a second time unless it can prove such a trial would not violate the US Constitution's prohibition against "double jeopardy."

In February, Lt. Watada's first court martial ended in a mistrial just before he was to take the stand in his own defense. Many observers believe the judge, Lt. Col. John Head, ordered a mistrial in that case because he was worried that Lt. Watada's testimony would lead to him being found not guilty of "missing [troops] movement" and "conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman."

Immediately before a mistrial was declared, Watada had said: "Your Honor, I have always believed that I have a legal and moral defense. I realize that the government can make arguments and you can make rulings contrary to that, but that does not negate my belief that I have a defense."

"To me," Watada told the court, leading soldiers into battle in Iraq "means to participate in a war that I believe to be illegal."

Watada had hoped to make that argument under the so-called Nuremberg Principals which arose from trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II.

The fourth of the Nuremberg Principles says that superior orders are not a defense to the commission of an illegal act, meaning soldiers who commit a war crime because they were "just following orders" are just as culpable as their superiors.

Read more...Watada court-martial now less likely?

By Hal Bernton

Seattle Times, Nov 9, 2007 

A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday barred a second court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada while the Army officer pursues his claim that it would violate his constitutional rights. It was a legal victory for Watada, the first Army officer to face prison for refusing to deploy to Iraq.

In issuing a preliminary injunction, Judge Benjamin Settle wrote "it is likely" that Watada will succeed in his claims that a second court-martial would violate constitutional protections against being tried twice for the same crimes.

The injunction marks a rare move by a civilian court to intervene in military justice.


Watada Supporters Around The Country



March 13-16, 2008

On March 13-16, US veterans of the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq will gather in Washington DC to testify about their experiences, and present video and photographic evidence, as will military families and civilian survivors, in "Winter Soldier" hearings organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

These hearings are modeled on the 1971 event of the same name organized by anti-war veterans in Detroit which galvanized the movement against the Vietnam war.  These important hearings will be broadcast live via satellite, radio and internet all over the world; please see below for details and schedule.  The Global Women Strike and Payday will organize a public view in London and possibly in other cities.  Details to follow.

·    Tune in, organize house parties, showings at community centers, places of worship, trade-union locals/branches, etc.  If you organize an event, post it on IVAW's website here and let us know at Payday, and we will publish it on our website.

·    Write a statement of support for the hearings on IVAW’s website (tick “other” if you’re not in the US and insert your post code for "zip code" – it will be accepted).  Send a copy toPayday and we will also post it on our website.  We are all strengthened when US soldiers say no.  If you are a conscientious objector/refusenik from another country tell them your experience.  Let Winter Soldier know that the world supports them!

·    For more information on what else you can do to publicize and support this important event, see IVAW's website: www.ivaw.org.

"To stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the people... Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and education. How do you support the troops but not the war? By supporting those who can truly stop it; let them know that resistance to participate in an illegal war is not futile and not without a future."  -- Lt. Ehren Watada, first commissioned officer to refuse to go to Iraq, faced 7 years in prison, his court-martial ended in a mistrial but he still remains in legal limbo.

JACL Calls for Equal Treatment for Lt. Ehren Watada

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) believes that all American citizens have the right to a fair and impartial trial, which includes the right to have a trial presided over by an impartial judge and to be protected from double jeopardy.

As the oldest Asian Pacific American civil rights organization in the United States, the JACL has lodged numerous principled defenses of constitutional rights. History has taught us a valuable lesson that true affirmation of American ideals and rights requires conscientious reflection and action based on those ideals. The Japanese American experience, with 120,000 people unjustly imprisoned without due process or equal protection under the law during World War II, has taught JACL the importance of defending civil rights and civil liberties.

On June 7, 2006, First Lt. Ehren Watada publicly declared his intent to refuse deployment to Iraq based upon his oath to defend the Constitution. Lt. Watada explained his convictions again on August 12, 2006. Each time, Lt. Watada spoke while out of uniform, off his military base, and on his own time -- in accordance with the limits on free speech under military law that Lt. Watada's superiors emphasized to him. During subsequent court-martial proceedings, the presiding judge repeatedly refused to allow Lt. Watada to present testimony about his convictions. However, before the prosecution rested its case, the prosecution's own expert witness acknowledged that an officer must ultimately follow the demands of his or her conscience. The judge eventually declared a mistrial over defense counsel's objections.

Serious issues of fairness have been raised concerning selective prosecution, freedom of speech, judicial bias, the ability to present witnesses in one's defense, due process and the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy with respect to Lt. Watada's case. While legal minds and good people can disagree about Lt. Watada's beliefs in this case, the JACL is committed to raising awareness and educating other organizations about his principled stand to ensure he is treated with fairness and receives due process within the U.S. military justice system and under the U.S. Constitution.

Cynthia McKinney
Former U.S. Representative