Washblog

Fort Lewis Army Lt. Set To Refuse Deployment To Iraq

[Front paged, NM. Also see Thank You First Lieutenant Ehren Watada.]

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will become the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. He will announce his intention to disobey the illegal order to deploy to Iraq in coordinated press conferences in Tacoma, Washington and Honolulu, Hawaii.

This is big news.

But I am surprised to see no one here has yet reported on it.

I first came across it at OlyBlog.  I then posted it at Daily Kos, and quickly got a sizeable discussion brewing.  That was before the identity of the soldier was known.

I have more at On The Road To 2008.

I'm sure Lietta, Arthur and others here will be wanting to watch this very closely.  There definitely appears to be a very organized support structure already in place to help this young man through his imminent battle with military authorities.

< Well, don't that beat all ... | Hate Initiative fails to qualify. LOVE RULES! >

Poll

Is a soldier right to refuse deployment to Iraq?
Yes
No

Votes: 45
Results | Other Polls
Display: Sort:
and leave your comments and thoughts.

On The Road To 2008: Countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

by Daniel K on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 05:32:31 PM PST

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  • Wow by Daniel K, 06/06/2006 11:41:36 PM PST (none / 0)
I was going to comment at DL, but Willis kept bothering me.

This guy's doing the right thing for him - I have mixed feelings; respect for chain of command being one of the things that keeps the military able to function so people don't get killed, but the right to object being a basic fundamental human right.  The latter trumps the former (duh), but it's always going to be a difficult conversation.  Good on the Lieutenant for doing what's right for him.

Switzerblog'll knock you out!

by switzerblog on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 11:48:32 PM PST

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but of necessity right and needful for patriotic perception of our own country.

dlaw's comment is right on the money.

Lietta and I have known of this since last week and were asked to keep quiet about it. It's interesting about how secrets of this nature are hard to keep quiet eh?

Lietta will be standing with the Lt. today in Tacoma at the news release.

My feelings about this are mixed but probably do not precisely mirror Switzer's "Good on the Lt. for doing what's right for him."

If what he does is an outward expression of what many others in the military would do but cannot or dare not - and what many of us WOULD do ourselves if we were in that situation - then he's potentially and probably a voice for many more people.

His protest is not just individually his alone and we don't need to  be limited to applauding his courage about having the guts to speak his true mind just for himself.

Whether we like it or not, by civic implication a soldier who fights and kills in Iraq is by definition fighting and killing on our behalf and in our name.

"Good on that soldier for acting in my name" is what we can ideally declare during wartime because presumably the soldier does for us what we can't do for ourselves and the nation by our own personal efforts.

If one considers the Iraq aggression as "immoral, untenable, unwinnable" - an act that now a majority of citizens polled in this country have repudiated, then we can be constant in our love and loyalty to our soldiers and still lament and object to what they are forced to do there.

By the same logic, if the Lt. is doing what I would want to do if in a like circumstance, he acts for me.

In this case, as Lietta will do today, she is supporting his position and not merely standing there saying "I support his right to his opinion and to act on it."

That's what acting morally in our roles as citizens is all about. When we do so, we initiate action that may or may not be agreed with by others.

But if agreed with by others - a significantly large number of others - a shift begins, a shift sustained by a growing voice of dissent that can only be healthy for a democratic republic.  

This Spartacus moment is important.

Arthur
What they inwardly imagine is the only thing they'll accept.

by Arthur Ruger on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:06:30 AM PST

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  Daniel, you got the scoop on this one in reporting it at Washblog. I intended to post on it after the fact as the planning for today's press conference encouraged respect for the Lt in his own agenda and there was concern about arrests prior to him being able to make his own statement.

  Yes, I saw it was posted at OlyBlog and on your own blog yesterday.  There has been great care in the planning for today's press conference which I will be attending as a military family to stand in support of Lt's decision.  With concerns that he could be arrested prior to giving the press conference once his name was revealed, it has been very much on the qt intended to remain qt till today.  Knowing media would be hungry for the news, and some concerns about media leaks, the more people involved in the planning, the greater potential for a leak, which well could lead to his arrest prior to being able to give his statement at press conference today.   I did my part in respecting the planning, no leaks from me.

Link to the support website for the Lieutenant Thank you Lieutenant Ehren Watada  (www.thankyoult.org) where you can follow the news reports, sign the petition of support (and yes, you will find my name on the petition).

On Wednesday June 7th, a U.S. Army Officer will refuse orders to go to Iraq. He will make a public statement about his personal decision at press conferences to be held simultaneously in Tacoma, Washington, and Honolulu, Hawaii. He has stated the following:

"I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' ... I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."

 Knowing the issue of refusing orders is controversial for many, I would expect a wide berth of varying viewpoints. The culture and code among military families factors into my having to carefully consider and make a personal decision of conscience to stand in support for this officer's decision of conscience. And I do intend to stand in support of this officer.

 Last August, I made a decision as a military family to go to Crawford, Texas and stand with a grieving military mother who intended to face down the Commander-in-Chief at his ranch.  I wanted to be sure a military family did stand with her, and there was no way to know that her courageous gesture would become became a phenomenom.

  Standing in support of the Lt is a personal decision, and while it will garner media attention to be sure, were there to be absolutely no media, I would still quietly go stand in support of the Lt.  

  There will be many who will guess at and interpret his motivation; that I cannot do, yet I do know that I fully expect Officer's to make decisions of conscience on behalf of the troops they will lead into combat.  What is happening in Iraq is beyond a 'questionable mission'.  

  The support website carries 'news' starting with his father making a statement of support in Honolulu newspapers yesterday so you can follow along at the support website. The Olympian here in WA sniffed out that there was 'news'; his lawyer has made a media statement and Seattle PI picked it up once Lt. Ehren Watada's name was revealed.

  The 2 news conferences to be held today in Hawaii and Tacoma are now posted at the support website.  I'll be heading out soon for the Tacoma conference, and there are 4 of us military families on the schedule to give a very brief statement after Lt. Ehren Watada gives his press conference.  

  from the support website;
 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will become the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. He will announce his intention to disobey the illegal order to deploy to Iraq in coordinated press conferences in Tacoma, Washington and Honolulu, Hawaii.
Wednesday, June 7th

Tacoma, Washington at 12pm noon
Associated Ministries, 1224 South I Street (at the intersection of 12th & I)

Honolulu, Hawaii at 11am
Hawaii State Capitol, Senate Conference Room 224

Veterans, religious leaders, military families, students, faculty, peace and justice organizations and community members will announce a national public campaign of support for the Lieutenant.

More information, including the name of the Lieutenant, will be released soon at www.ThankYouLt.org

'Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? ~ Abraham Lincoln

by Lietta Ruger on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:32:03 AM PST

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I misread the poll question. I thought it asked if Lt Watada has the right to refuse. I answered no. I don't know if fighting in an illegal war is itself illegal. Military people are supposed to refuse illegal orders. (I'm sure that happens all the time.)

But I would say that he has the obligation to refuse. He's prepared to face the consequences of his decision. So it's a principled choice.

Not going, and not going quietly
Soldier against Iraq war won't seek objector status
link to Seattle PI story

by zappini on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 01:41:33 AM PST

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...this guy has HUGE brass balls - and I'll be very interesting to see how this goes.  Please keep us informed!

I'm with Obama

by willisreed on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 11:42:05 PM PST

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personal morality. If he, as an individual feels he cannot follow orders he must refuse service that will cause him to be in a situation where he would not protect himself and his comrades.

But the Iraq war is anything but unlawful. Unfortunately it has the force of multiple acts of law.

Look, if you really think the Iraq war is unlawful for some reason, the answer is simple: SUE. Sue somebody for breaking the law. You can sue Congress. You can sue the President. You find somebody with legal standing and you join the lawsuit.

Trouble is, you won't find anybody. The duly elected legislature and executive of this country have lawfully declared and funded this war with multiple acts of law and that's that. There is no higher legal authority.

So say the war is immoral, untenable, unwinnable but don't say it's "unlawful" - because that is just not true.

by dlaw on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 05:56:38 AM PST

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