Jan 22, 2007
A military judge has ruled that Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first soldier to be court-martialed for refusing deployment to Iraq, can also be charged with “conduct unbecoming an officer” – for publicly criticizing George W. Bush and questioning the war’s legality.
The judge, Lieutenant Colonel John Head, said that “contemptuous speech by an officer directed at the president” is grounds for prosecution under military law.
What did Watada say that amounted to a crime? In one interview, he spoke about the “deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war.” At the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle last August, Watada said, “Today, I speak with you about a radical idea: That to stop an illegal and unjust war, soldiers can choose to stop fighting it...”
In other words, Watada has said publicly what everyone knows. And he has taken a position supported by the big majority of the American population – that the soldiers need to stop fighting in Iraq.
But Watada’s position is also finding support among the majority of the soldiers themselves. And that’s just what the military brass can’t allow! That’s why they’re throwing the book at Watada to make an example of him!
Just as during the Viet Nam War, such a prosecution may only produce yet more opposition to the war.