Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Officer to stand trial

NYT - Trial Starts for Officer Who Refused to Go to Iraq
A court-martial started here on Monday against an Army officer who refused to serve in Iraq last summer because, he has said, the war is illegal.
[. . .]
Lieutenant Watada has said the Bush administration has falsely used the 9/11 attacks to justify the war. He has said that the war has been proved unjust because unconventional weapons have not been found in Iraq and that American soldiers have mistreated the Iraqis.
[. . .]
His prospects appear uncertain. The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, reinforced on Monday an earlier ruling that Lieutenant Watada could not base his defense on his contention that the war is illegal.
[. . .]
“From what I understand, that under military law those in the military are allowed to refuse — in fact, have the right to refuse unlawful orders — a duty to refuse,” Lieutenant Watada said last month at a forum featuring war opponents, according to a transcript distributed on Monday by Zoltan Grossman, a professor at Evergreen State College who helped organize the forum.

In the transcript, Lieutenant Watada said being denied the chance to argue the legality of the war in his court-martial was “a violation of our most sacred premises of due process and, indeed, is un-American.”
This is beginning to sound like a draft war. It is understandable to have conscientious objectors during a draft, but it seems a little odd with a volunteer military. The article notes that Watada is the first officer to object to service in Iraq but that many enlisted soldiers have objected. Does this represent some major milestone in the war, or is it just an isolated incident? I suppose only time will tell.

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