Dear Ehren, Rosa and Bob,
Where do I begin dear friends, it has come to pass and tomorrow your pre-hearing is set to occur.
You Ehren, send chills up my spine and make me proud to be an American with your brave stance. You dear Ehren have the strenghth and courage to stand up for what is right for all of us who oppose this war, but it is YOU who are facing years in prison for your voice of courage. It is YOU who in your very first statement said you were taking your stance to speak for all the innocent Iraqis our country has killed. You have not given up, you have not given in and there are no words in my own vocabulary to express my pride in you. You bring tears to my eyes dear Ehren, you bring pain to my heart for what our country has done in it's war of aggression on the innocent people of Iraq. Within you lies the integrity to oppose our govenment and stand for what is morally and legally right. Dear Ehren, my prayers are with you today, tomorrow, and always in your battle. God bless you Ehren, God bless you.
Rosa and Bob, you have fought a brave course to support your wonderful son. You have exemplified to all what being loving parents is about, being there for your child, through thick and thin, tirelessly by his side. As the court marshall begins, dear friends, rest assured, all of us are there with you in heart and spirit. Your son is a true American hero, your son is the finest of American men, raised by you to do what is right, and loved by you and all of us who support him. Not only now, but it will be written in the history books, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada had the COURAGE, love of his country, and truth on his side. Bless you and stay strong, you are all in our hearts and prayers. May God be at your side now and always dear friends.
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U.S. Army Subpoenas Independent Journalist to Testify in Court-Martial of War Resister First Lt. Ehren Watada.
First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse his orders to deploy to Iraq on June 22nd, 2006. He is facing court-martialed and the pre-trial hearing begins on Thursday. Watada faces one charge of missing troop movement, and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Each of the later four charges relates to Lt. Watada's public explanations of his refusal to deploy to Iraq.
The U.S. Army has subpoenaed independent journalist Sarah Olson to testify at the upcoming hearing. Sarah Olson interviewed Lt. Watada last May -- the Army says statements he made during Olson's interview constitute one charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. The Army has placed another journalist - Dahr Jamail - on the prosecution witness list.
If convicted of all charges Watada faces six years in prison, four of which would be for speaking to the press.
Sarah Olson, independent journalist and radio producer
Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who has covered the Middle East extensively. He publishes his reports on a blog called DahrJamailIraq.com.
AMY GOODMAN: Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail join us now from San Francisco. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let's begin with Sarah Olson. Can you tell us what it is the government is demanding that you do?
SARAH OLSON: The government has subpoenaed me to testify at the court-martial of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, as well as the pretrial hearing this Thursday and Friday. They have asked me to appear. They have asked me to take the stand and essentially verify my reporting. They want to have me say that what I reported is accurate.
The problem with that, as I see it, is that the Army is asking me to participate in the building of a case and the prosecution of political speech. I feel that that would threaten press freedom and chill dissenting voices and free speech, political speech in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you learn that you were being required to go to this hearing and testify?
SARAH OLSON: Well, I was actually first notified that I was on the Army's witness list back in July, when the Associated Press and Reuters started emailing me. Later on, I was formally served with a subpoena just a couple weeks ago, and someone showed up at my house in Oakland several different times and served me with a subpoena to appear both, again, at the pretrial hearing, as well as the court-martial.
AMY GOODMAN: And that pretrial hearing is January 4th?
SARAH OLSON: It is. January 4th and 5th.
AMY GOODMAN: In Seattle?
SARAH OLSON: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: What are you planning to do?
SARAH OLSON: Well, I can't really talk too much about my legal strategy right now, but what I think is very important is that there are a couple of different issues, a couple of different problems with the Army kind of dragging journalists into a military court and asking them to testify against their sources. I think it’s my job as a journalist to report the news. It’s not my job to participate, again, in the Army, in the military or government prosecution of political speech.
I think when journalists do that, they really risk being turned into kind of the investigative arm of the government, really being seen as the eyes and ears of the military and the government. It really threatens to erode kind of that separation between the press and our government. I think that this is particularly ironic, because the Army is, again, asking me, a journalist, to build the case against military personnel speaking to the press, against dissenting voices in the media.
And I think, you know, kind of the final thing that I find really alarming about that is that it really does threaten to kind of eliminate those voices from the media. What kind of future war resisters would agree to speak with me or with other journalists if they thought that it was reasonable that they would be facing very high prison sentences, four years in prison, for explaining, you know, the reasons for their opposition to the Iraq war?
And I think that the debate around public issues, kind of current events, and in this case the Iraq war, is really an essential thing that the media provides. It’s, you know, the informed citizenry really is kind of the lifeblood of democracy, and without the media functioning as, you know, really holding kind of all -- you know, asking the important questions and really kind of representing every viewpoint, you don't have that informed debate, and I think that those are the things that the Army is really threatening and really challenging when they’re asking me and other journalists to come into court and to testify against my own source in this case about political speech.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Sarah Olson, independent journalist who’s been subpoenaed to testify at the pretrial hearing leading to the court-martial of Lieutenant Ehren Watada. We’re also joined by Dahr Jamail. Dahr Jamail, can you talk about your situation in regards to Ehren Watada?
DAHR JAMAIL: I was contacted by the Army several months ago and notified that I was on the prosecution witness list. I then decided that it would be in my best interest to hire an attorney, rather than contacting the Army directly. And I was aware of the fact that I was put on the witness list, because I wrote an article about a speech that I watched Lieutenant Watada give at a Veterans for Peace national convention in Seattle this past August. And it was some of that speech is also being used by the prosecution to try to tack on some extra years to his sentence.
AMY GOODMAN: What are your plans? What are you going to do? You’re not quite in the same situation as Sarah Olson.
DAHR JAMAIL: I have not been subpoenaed yet. It’s obvious that I’m not going to be subpoenaed for the pretrial hearing. I still might be subpoenaed for the actual court-martial trial.
In the interim, I think that it’s important to continue to bring attention to the case and also to -- for two reasons: for what Lieutenant Watada has said that the Army obviously finds so threatening, and also because of the situation it puts us in as journalists, that this should be a wake-up call, a shot over the bow for journalists all across the country, not just independent journalists, but anyone, because, as Sara said, if we as journalists can't interview people without the threat of then being used as a tool of the prosecution against them in a court of law at some point, especially in this case with the military as civilian journalists being brought into a military court to do that, I think that’s a very worrisome situation.
The other thing that I think is important to remember when we talk about this is, what did Ehren Watada say in this speech in Seattle that the Army feels so threatened by? And I believe that it’s because he really laid out a blueprint for a GI resistance movement in this country. He talked about the very extreme need of economic support for families of people who decide to resist this illegal, unjust and immoral war, and if people across the country start to take that upon themselves as communities and bring these families in and start to support them as Lieutenant Watada suggested, then we will have a GI resistance movement in this country, and that’s something the Army is very, very much, I think, very concerned about and very afraid of. And they should be.
AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, independent journalist, well-known for his reporting from Iraq. Sarah Olson also interviewed Ehren Watada. She has been subpoenaed. So you’re going to go to the hearing, but not cooperate, Sarah?
SARAH OLSON: Well, again, I can't quite talk about kind of the legal strategy that we’re going to employ. But I certainly hope that the Army can be convinced -- for example, everything that I did with Ehren Watada, Lieutenant Watada, was recorded for radio. I certainly hope that the publicly available kind of radio recordings will be sufficient for the Army to do what they do without kind of, you know, again, bringing journalists into the military court to testify against their own sources. It’s kind of the -- the very idea of being asked to cooperate with a case that really seeks to prosecute political speech is what I find so offensive.
AMY GOODMAN: Sarah, where is the rest of the media on this? How much support are you getting, both in terms of people coming to your defense, but also coverage of the situation?
SARAH OLSON: You know, it’s interesting. I mean, I think that journalists are rightly concerned about this. It hasn't gotten a significant amount of media coverage yet. I certainly hope that people will continue to cover it, will continue to look at, you know, why is this important. I think it’s an interesting case, because this is not something where I’m being asked to reveal a confidential source or, you know, talk about unpublished material. It’s really -- it's new to be asked to just kind of, you know, present the Army's case, to really be the heart and soul of their prosecution in this case of his political speech. And so, I think people are a little slow to understand that this really is something new and really is very alarming. But people are certainly -- have been very supportive, and I think, with any luck, they’ll continue to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: Dahr Jamail, finally, we only have a minute, but given your extensive reporting in Iraq, I just wanted to get your reaction to the execution of Saddam Hussein this weekend.
DAHR JAMAIL: I think the timing of doing it on the day of Eid al-Adha, the day acknowledged on December 30 by the Sunnis -- of course, this being written off by the Shia-dominated government saying that it’s against Iraqi law to execute someone on Eid al-Adha, and for Shias, that is on the 31st, so making a very clear statement now that Iraq is essentially a Shia-dominated Shia state now, sort of a snub at the Sunni population there. And I think that, coupled with the fact that the trial was a wash, it was a kind of a spit in the face of international law, like the whole entire occupation and invasion were, as well, is really par for the course of what we’ve come to expect with this immoral, unjust, disgusting situation that keeps dragging on with no end in sight.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Dahr Jamail, I want to thank you very much for being with us, independent journalist, and Sarah Olson. And we’ll certainly continue to follow the case and what happens in the hearing and court-martial of Lieutenant Ehren Watada.
Honour Above Obedience
By David Krieger
Fri, 22 Dec 2006, 08:50:00
I write in praise of Ehren Watada, a brave young man who has placed truth and honor above obedience. Watada, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, has refused orders for deployment to Iraq on the grounds that he is bound to uphold the U.S. Constitution and not to follow illegal orders. By taking this stand, he is putting the war, its initiators and those in charge of conducting it on trial while putting himself at risk of incarceration.
Watada has taken the position that the war in Iraq is an illegal war, and that the conduct of the war and occupation has followed a pattern of illegality directed from above. In a recent speech to the Veterans for Peace national convention in Seattle, Lt. Watada said, "Today, I speak with you about a radical idea … born from the very concept of the American soldier. The idea is this, that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."
Lt. Watada's idea is one that has echoes from the Nuremberg trials. It was at Nuremberg in Germany that the victorious Allied powers, including the United States, held Nazi leaders to account for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the principles derived from the Nuremberg trials was one that said it is not an adequate defense for such crimes to argue that one was only following orders.
Lt. Watada is taking a stand by refusing to follow such orders. He is exercising his rights as an American citizen, an officer of the U.S. Army and a human being with the capacity for thought and reflection. He is making it clear that he did not check his conscience at the door when he joined the military three years ago and is unwilling to be placed in a situation where he will have no choice but to commit war crimes.
Referring to the crimes of the Iraq war, Lt. Watada stated, "Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity."
By his courage, Lt. Watada challenges our complacency. Certainly it is easier for most Americans to go along with an unjust and illegal war than to challenge it. That is what happened for years during the Vietnam War. That is what is happening now during the Iraq war, almost as if we had learned no meaningful lessons from the Vietnam War. Lt. Watada is challenging the code of silence in the military and in our society. He rightly points out that the crimes being committed in Iraq are funded with our tax dollars.
"Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice," he argues, "it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes."
Lt. Watada is holding up a mirror to American society, one into which we need to take a hard look. Are we a people willing to go docilely along with yet another illegal war? Are we a people who condone torture and the denial of basic human rights and justice in the name of the false idol of fighting terrorism?
Are we a people unwilling to recognize our own misdeeds that have led to the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and American soldiers?
Lt. Watada is threatened with a court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq and also for making statements deemed to be contemptuous of the president and other top government officials. One such statement was: "I was shocked and at the same time ashamed that Bush had planned to invade Iraq before the Sept. 11 attacks. How could I wear this (honorable) uniform now knowing we invaded a country for a lie?"
Ehren Watada makes me proud to be an American, something the political leadership of this country has not done for a long time.
He is a young man with the courage to say that he will not fight in an illegal war. He is willing to risk his freedom in order to awaken others to the immensity of the tragedy we are inflicting on the people of Iraq.
Lt. Watada has said, "I am not a hero." I disagree. He is a hero in a time that cries out for authentic heroes, for those who act with integrity, conscience and courage.
It is not Ehren Watada who should be on trial, but the leaders who planned and prosecuted this illegal war. Lt. Watada is giving us a wake-up call, and an opportunity to realign our values with those of our Constitution, the principles of Nuremberg and the Geneva Conventions. Now is the time to break our silence, and bring to account the leaders who have violated our trust, broken our laws and demeaned America in the eyes of the world.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
Source: National Catholic
US Hypocrisy Reaches All Time High
By Paul Craig Roberts
01/03/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- One of the lessons of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials of Germans after Germany’s defeat in WW II was that obeying orders is no excuse for war crimes. US prosecutors took the position that the German military should have refused to obey Hitler’s orders.
Chief US prosecutor Robert Jackson established that military aggression was a war crime.
US Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada took the Nuremburg lesson to heart. He refused to deploy to Iraq on the solid grounds that the war is illegal, which it is under the Nuremburg standard, and that he cannot order troops under his command to commit illegal actions.
Watada is correct. If the US general staff had the integrity of Lt. Watada, America and Iraq would have been spared the pointless and bloody conflict. Bush was able to illegally initiate the conflict, because the American military behaved exactly as the German military and followed the orders of a criminal commander-in-chief. Watada must be court-martialed in order to protect Bush and his obedient commanders from war crimes charges.
By prosecuting Lt. Watada, the US military has demeaned the Nuremburg trials and demoted them to merely the revenge of the victorious. Watada’s prosecution demolishes the illusion that the Nuremburg trials established a civilized principle of international law. All it did was to reaffirm that might is right. Germany’s ideology of domination was a war crime, but America’s ideology of domination is not.