Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Army Officer Refuses Deployment to Iraq

"My participation would make me party to war crimes".

An Army lieutenant based at Fort Lewis, Wash. has such grave objections to the war in Iraq that he's refusing to deploy, the soldier's lawyer said Tuesday.

First Lt. Ehren Watada submitted a letter to his command in January stating that he had serious reservations about the Iraq war and felt he could not participate in it, Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said.

A couple of months later, at the Army's suggestion, Watada resubmitted his request to resign, Seitz said.

"They took their time but then they informed him in early May that they were not going to let him resign," Seitz said in a phone interview from his office in Honolulu.

Joe Hitt, a civilian spokesman at Fort Lewis, confirmed that Watada is a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The unit held a deployment ceremony Friday and will begin leaving later this month for its second mission in Iraq.

Hitt said the Army is aware of Watada's plans but had no comment.

"We have nothing to say about it because nothing has happened, and we're not going to speculate on anything," Hitt said.

Watada, a native of Honolulu, enlisted in the Army in 2003 after graduating from Hawaii Pacific University. He reported for boot camp in June of that year and began officer candidate school two months later.

Watada's commission required that he serve as an active-duty Army officer for a three-year term ending Dec. 3, 2006, Seitz said.

"By his refusal to participate in the ongoing war, Lt. Watada joins a growing number of high-ranking military officers, West Point graduates and current and former members of the armed services who have expressed their opposition to the actions of the United States in Iraq," Seitz said in a statement released Tuesday.

Watada could be court-martialed if he refuses to serve as ordered, unless the Army allows him to resign his commission or assigns him to duties that are not directly connected to the Iraq war, Seitz said.

An Article from the Seattle Post:


Anonymous Katu said...

Good for Ehren for standing his ground. I hope that his peers will back him up and his story will be a calling to others in the military who are afraid to speak out against the goverment.
Remember you are not a true patriot unless you question your goverment! And it is your JOB as an Americian to do it.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

I feel you should go with your gut instinct.

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