Town Square

Court martial of Ehren Watada

Original post made by Jag Singh, Duveneck/St. Francis, on Jan 2, 2007

Efforts by the Pentagon to force journalists to testify against anti-war ‘refusniks’ poses a major threat to freedom of speech, the hallmark of a free democratic society. Independent journalists, Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail have both been approached by the military to testify against first lieutenant Ehren Watada. Journalists ‘Hippocratic Oath’ is to report the news not to serve as fifth columnists for the military. Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to face being court-martialed for his refusal to deploy to the killing fields of Iraq. Watada displayed enormous courage in his public statements outlining his reasons for refusing to go to Iraq. It is unconscionable that the military should recruit journalists in its immoral crusade to silence anti-war military personnel. If found guilty, Watada faces six years in prison of which four years would be directly attributable to his statements made to the media. His courageous actions epitomizes the very best qualities of a true American – a willingness to face punishment and censure to advance the cause of peace and justice and a total commitment to expose the bankrupt polices of this anti-Christ, Godless administration.


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Posted by wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:01 pm

This is an interesting one...

While I disagree with Ehren Watada's conduct, I find it generally honorable. With one exception: when he decided, while still in uniform, to publicly speak against the war. Now the military decided to prosecute him because of that public speaking while in uniform, as I think they should. So they subpoenaed two journalists that interviewed him, or were present at his public speech. Now fast forward to Jag and his interpretation.

First, journalist have no Hippocratic Oath. I sometimes wish they had, when I see some of the harm they do.

Secondly, Jag speaks of "freedom of speech" , when I think he really meant freedom of the press. In any case, neither freedom is endangered, as nobody argues that the journalists were wrong in writing what they did. However, being a journalist -- or a doctor -- does not excuse one from also being a citizen, and having the duty to testify in court about any crimes one may have witnessed. Which is exactly what they are being asked to do.

In fact, in this case it seems that all they are asked to testify to is that the accused indeed said to them what they wrote that he had said to them. What is wrong with that? There is even no implied confidentiality that they are asked to violate, notwithstanding the fact that they could never actually gurantee such confidentiality.

But I like Jag's "this anti-Christ, Godless administration" ... it sounds so Mel Gibson :-)

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 7:08 am

All I can say is "I like pie".

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Watada has violated his oath and turned on his former messmates and his country. I would offer him a DD and 20 hard, or a DD, renunciation of citizenship and permanent exile.

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Posted by Non-reactionary
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 4, 2007 at 8:24 am

Don't you think you are going a little overboard, Walter (by the way, tell us about your service in Iraq).
Take a look at this link:

Web Link

It states that the maximum sentence he could receive would be 8.5 years--I think your suggestions 20 years and/or permanent exile is a little bit much, especially considering that the perpetrators of the mess in Iraq, Bush, Cheney, Rica and Rumsfield are not in prison yet for violating their oaths to the american people and turning on their fellow citizens

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 12:57 pm

I spent a year in Korea in 50-51, Combat Infantry Badge and 5 battle stars. I was a volunteer. If I thought I could have contributed in Iraq at my age, I might have gone, but they needed the space for troops so I stay here protecting their 6 from domestic enemies.. My old regiment, the 23rd Infantry, reconstituted as a Stryker unit, has served several times over there.
Very few pople have what it takes to be soldiers, which is why idiots who say why didn't you go are out of it. I believe in surgery, too, but I don't believe I need to take up the knife to prove it. My grandson did 2 tours in Fallujah with the Marines
and nephews served in Kosevo and Kuwait. Service is a tradition in my family. We are in Iraq as a consequence of the violation by Sadam of the conditions of a truce that ended the UN war to free Kuwait. Let's see if Nancy brings the troops home as she implied in her campaign.

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Posted by reality check
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Hi Walter -- really impressive service record, both yours and your family's. We have some family getting ready for third tour in Iraq, ourselves. I beg to differ about why we are in Iraq. Of course, the reasons you give are different from those proffered by our President when we entered this war. This may be why some civilians and some of those in uniform feel the need to speak out. They think we ought to have gone in for clear and legitimate reasons, not keep changing rationale every time the public finds out the last reasons was bunk.

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Posted by Non-reactionary
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 4, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I agree with you Reality Check. whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Notice how Bush and his mob rarely mention his name. Plus the US, because of it's commitment to Iraq, has let Afghanistan slip back to the way it was under the Taliban.
As for Walter's assertions, if you are saying that I an idiot beacuse of my comments, you should know that I also served in the military--not here in the US, but in the country I have dual citizenship in. I served 3 years regualr army, then 3 years reserve duty. AS reality check pointed out, we are in Iraq for different reasons than what you stated. WE were lied to by Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfield regarding WMDs etc.
I think the people of the US have had enough of the lying by the Gang of Four and their scare tactics of implying that any dissent regarding the war will allow terrorists to run free in our streets.

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Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2007 at 7:17 am

To Non-Reactionary:

I think it is funny that you call yourself non-reactionary, then say the "gang of 4" ( harking back to the Cultural Revolution in China which massacred millions) "lied".

Again- nobody lied.

Or, let's put it another way. If the "gang of 4 lied", then so did Clinton and the beloved senators Kennedy and Kerry, and the Intelligence depts of our country, Russia, Italy, Spain, Australia, England, ....

So, either everyone was wrong, and Saddam was brilliant and crazy enough to fool everyone into just BELIEVING he had WMD and was working on a way to have a lot more, quickly

.. or everyone was right, and the 6 months of warning that all of us were coming in was enough to hide and destroy the actual evidence. Hmmmm..I wonder which was right.

Yes, Walter has it right on. We went in because 17 resolutions and 12 years of telling us "the chemicals I used are gone but I can't prove how" were enough. We had enough of him laughing at these silly Resolutions with no teeth that said "prove it, or else" the silly ones happening now with Iran. It was just proving to him, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, your dictator, ..that our UN was a joke, that we had no ability to enforce any sense of decency, and that any dictator could do whatever he wished with impunity to their people and in threatening the world. Doesn't anyone stop to think that it can't be bad to stop the massacre of an average of 7,000 people per month, for 30 years?

I am proud of what we did. I supported it then and still do. Think about it.

What is the worst that could happen if we found nothing? ( By the way, is it even worth it for me to tell you the footprints we found leftover?). The people of Iraq would have a chance at a democracy ( which they will succeed many of us want our democracy enough that we risk death to vote?).

What is the worst that could happen if we didn't go in? Saddam would finish his plans and millions and millions die because we have a war with a megalomaniac who has no problem using chemicals and nuclear bombs and biological warfare to threaten to annhilate anyone who stands in his way. Hmmm..can anyone say Israel hostage situation?

Sound familiar?

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Posted by Draw the line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2007 at 7:26 am

to Reality Check:

Read my post above. WE DID go in for clear and legitimate reasons. The problem is that most people don't read for themselves, they trust the newspapers to get it right. Bad idea. Read sources, speeches, and opposing viewpoints, THEN you get the "rest of the story" for context and clear and legitimate reasons.

For example, how many people actually believe Bush said we were in IMMINENT danger? Never, not once, not ever. This was one of the many, many bad reporting jobs. How many people actually believe we have found no leftovers from nuclear, chemical or gas weaponry?

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Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2007 at 7:35 am

I completely agree with Walter.

For an officer IN UNIFORM to publically state anything that emboldens pro-dictator forces into thinking they are winning the propoganda war, and therefore emboldens them to blow up and shoot more of our beloved soldiers in Iraq, is an absolutely wrong and reprehensible act.

They know that it is illegal when they speak, they know they are breaking not only their own commitment that they have made to the soldiers in Iraq, but they also know that they are endangering our soldiers.

If they don't agree, they are free to express their opinion to anyone they wish in their chain of command privately. If they can't support Iraq, then GET OUT OF THE MILITARY.

What people fail to realize in the civilian world is that our military folks give up many "rights" we have because they are in the military. They are NOT protected by our worker labor laws. They are NOT protected by freedom of speech, because their speech can kill their fellow military. However, they are always free to leave the military, or at least when their commitment is up.

Everyone needs to remember, this is an ALL VOLUNTEER military. Nobody has to stay. Has anybody read in the media how our military in IRAQ has the highest re-enlistment of anyone in the military? Doesn't anyone think it strange that these oh-so-kind anti-war people who say "support our troops, bring them home" never bother to wonder why the troops who go there RE-ENLIST? They know something about the value of their job, don't they?