From the fever swamps of the anti-American-war Left a new cause celebre has emerged: Lt Ehren Watada, a soldier from Hawaii who last year refused orders to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, the judge declared a mistrial in his court martial proceedings at Ft. Lewis, Washington, claiming Watada did not fully understand a document he signed admitting he had a duty to deploy to Iraq.
But Watada is no fuzzy-minded pacifist conscientious objector. Quite the opposite: If he had any followers, Lt. Watada would be an American caudillo. Watada is on trial effectively for calling for a military coup d’etat to overthrow Congress and the president.
Watada was charged with "missing movement" after refusing to deploy to Iraq with his unit, the United States Army, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team in June, 2006. Perhaps dissatisfied with the low-key charges, Watada earned more serious charges after giving a speech on August 12, 2006, at the convention of Veterans for Peace, a group which grew out of the 1970s Vietnam era "Winter Soldier Project" run by John Forbes Kerry and Jane Fonda.
In his carefully worded talk, Watada challenges the legitimacy of civilian elected officials calling them "narrowly and questionably elected." Watada claims that Congress and the president did not have the legal power to authorize the use of force in Iraq saying: "neither Congress nor this administration has the authority to violate the prohibition against pre-emptive war." Watada implicitly questions the supremacy of the Constitution saying, "As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature."
Borrowing the language of caudillos everywhere, Watada claims to be fighting "corruption." Watada claims to possess wisdom beyond that of the Founding Fathers arguing: "The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system." Watada claims to be acting after civilian leaders have failed saying: "We have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years. It seems as though nothing we've done, from vigils to protests to letters to Congress, have had any effect in persuading the powers that be. Tonight I will speak to you on my ideas for a change of strategy."
What is Watada’s "change of strategy"? Watada implicitly calls for the United States Armed Forces to impose its will on the elected civilian leadership of the nation saying, "If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols – if they stood up and threw their weapons down – no president could ever initiate a war of choice again."
Watada closes by calling on soldiers to stop "allowing" the U.S. government this liberty. "Those who called for war prior to the invasion compared diplomacy with Saddam to the compromises made with Hitler. I say, we compromise now by allowing a government that uses war as the first option instead of the last to act with impunity."
Watada’s attorney, Honolulu based radical lawyer Eric Seitz claims, "these (new) charges (faced by Watada) send out a message to people in the military, that if you criticize the war and if you criticize the decisions that were made to bring the United States into this war, that you, too, could be charged with disloyalty, contemptuous remarks and disrespect for higher officers."
Watada’s speech calling for something approximating a military uprising is not simple criticism. Fortunately this is not a banana republic, and Watada has no support within the military. Watada’s impotent call for a virtual coup d’etat more than earned him charges of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman" and "contempt for officials."
The latter charge, which has since been dropped, did not refer to the ordinary name-calling typical of the Bush-haters. In fact, President Bush’s name occurs nowhere in Watada’s speech. Watada does not call for the ouster of the president but a transformation (you could perhaps term it "overthrow") of the government.
Watada’s lawyer Seitz also claims, "We did not really anticipate that they would charge him with additional offenses based upon the comments and the remarks that he's made. And that opens up a whole new chapter in this proceeding."
Watada’s speech reads as if it had been written by a lawyer. Delivered just five days before Watada’s "Article 32" hearing, it is carefully crafted, written in the most elliptical possible manner to still be understood.
It is likely the intent of the Watada speech at the Veterans for Peace convention was to "open a new chapter." Rather than have his defendant go down to certain defeat facing simple charges of "missing movement," Seitz could now attempt to open up a military trial of the civilian leadership of the U.S. government. As Watada supporter Paul Rockwell explains, "The U.S. Army is putting the wrong person on trial."
One of the international law "experts" called at Watada’s "Article 32" hearing was University of Illinois Law Professor Frances Boyle. Boyle toured Hawaii in December 2004 speaking to thousands of people at meetings organized by Hawaii secessionist leader Bumpy Kanahele. In his speech, repeated on four Hawaiian islands, Boyle urged Native Hawaiians to emulate the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The speaking tour was co-sponsored by the State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Boyle has also worked as an attorney for both the PLO and the Chechen rebel "government."
Watada’s speech created legal cause for the new charges which were formally filed on September 15, 2006. The new charges in turn created the excuse to invite the so-called experts to testify about the war’s so-called illegality. Watada’s speech at the convention reads very much like Boyle’s tortured arguments for Hawaiian secession. The court-martial judge has refused to hear arguments questioning the civilian leaderships’ decision to go to war and questioning the "legality" of the war, correctly noting that these considerations are beyond the pervue of a military court.
Also testifying in Watada's defense at the Article 32 hearing was Dennis Halliday a former United Nations official who last served the UN as United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in 1997 in Iraq—in the midst of the Oil for Food payouts. He quit the UN after one year in Baghdad and began working as a full time campaigner against the UN sanctions on Iraq. Another so-called expert is the far-Left Col. Ann Wright, an ex-officer who quit the State Department in March 2003 in protest of the Iraq war. She is now a full time activist who gives interviews to the Maoist Revolution newspaper and coordinated Cindy Sheehan’s media circus in Crawford, Texas.
Watada looks outside the military for support. His father Bob Watada is a figure in the Hawaii Democratic Party who made a name for himself recently as Hawaii Campaign Spending Commissioner, a position he used to root out almost 100 corrupt Democrat politicians and state contractors. In doing so, he made way for younger up-and-coming Kucinich Democrats to take even greater power within the Party at the expense of more mainstream liberal Democrats. The Watada case has been cause for substantial debate within Japanese American groups, preparing the stage for the anti-Americans’ complete takeover of the Hawaii Democratic Party after the eventual passing of Senator Daniel Inouye whose U.S. Senate seniority often helps bring military projects to Hawaii.
In 2004 Dennis Kucinich received about 1/3 of the Hawaii delegates to the Democratic National Convention. William Alia and Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin, the second place primary candidates for the 2006 Democratic Hawaiian gubernatorial and Lt. Governor nominations are deeply involved in lawsuits challenging the U.S. Navy’s use of sonar in the waters off Hawaii and the presence of a Stryker brigade on Oahu with training facilities on the Big Island.
In Honolulu, support for Watada was until recently organized largely by the Maoist front group "Not In Our Name," which is controlled by the Honolulu branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Watada support rallies are now controlled by Code Pink, a group co-founded by San Francisco activist Medea Benjamin, a former resident of Castro’s Cuba.
A key figure around the Veterans for Peace and also around Cindy Sheehan’s earlier media circus is Dahr Jamail. Terror cheerleader Jamail joined forces with Sheehan after cheering Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Sadr City, Iraq, while reporting from their HQ on the battle in which Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed by Sadr’s forces. Jamail calls Watada a "hero" and posted Watada’s speech on leftist website "Truthout." Jamail recently visited Honolulu to speak with Watada supporters.
Watada also gets support from Muslim Chaplain James Yee, who was ousted from his position at Guantanamo after being accused of spying for the al-Qaeda detainees.
Yee and Jamail are not Watada’s only Islamist supporters. Al-Jazeera writing on June 11, 2006 happily quotes Watada as he implicitly condemns every U.S. soldier in the field of combat: "The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes."
Of course the real "wholesale slaughter" is the one carried out daily by al-Jazeera’s terrorist bombers, the comrades of Jamail’s allies in Sadr City, and Yee’s detainees at Guantanamo. Watada and his supporters are facilitating the genuine war crimes they carry out daily against coalition forces and the Iraqi people.
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