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First Officer Refusing Iraq Deployment Faces Prison

by Alethea (writer), Los Angeles, September 21, 2006

Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada and the immense commotion that follows his name, particularly from the U.S. Army. But why the excitement and who is he?

You may or may not have heard about Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada and the immense commotion that follows his name, particularly from the U.S. Army. But why the excitement and who is he?

Back in June of 2006, Lt. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War because of his own personal beliefs.

Initially he had joined the army "out of a desire to protect our country." However, as time passed he began reading into the conflicts with Iraq and after much "soul-searching" decided he did not want any part of it.

Watada wrote a resignation to his commander. An excerpt read the following, "Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." He did not deploy afterward.

Since then, Watada has been faced with several charges including contempt toward our President, missing movement, not deploying, and conduct unbecoming of an officer. Watada is facing a court martial on all charges and faces over 8 years in prison.

Interestingly enough, Watada did not ask for a leave as a "conscientious objector", which opposes being involved in all war due to moral objections. He only opposed to this war.

Should military personnel be allowed to simply exit out of a military operation if they find it objectionable? Critics of Watada argue that this sort of action could create chaos among the army's other members. But should these human beings not be afforded a choice to enter into a conflict (it's not even an official war at this point) or are soldiers needed as pawns to work out the best interests of the general public?

If you agree with Lt. Watada's stance, you can go to http://www.thankyoult.org and sign the petition, give a donation, or you can simply go and research it for yourself to make your own conclusions on the matter....something I do not think should be compromised by any person.



About the Writer

Alethea is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on First Officer Refusing Iraq Deployment Faces Prison

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By Ariel on September 21, 2006 at 07:20 pm
Wow, I had not heard of this story. My take on this is that, yes, the soldier should be punished somehow. Cohesion is very important to an army and individuals like him could weaken its strength. However, the charges against him are way too harsh. I think a soldier shouldn't risk prison for this, but charges that are internal to military corp: be kicked out of the army and maybe lose all medals awarded or something like this. Just my 2 cents.
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By robb on September 21, 2006 at 07:44 pm
There are several problems with how Lt. Watada handled this situation. First, this article doesn't mention it, but he actually joined the military AFTER we had sent troops to Iraq for the current conflict. Second, due to his rank, he was a Fire Support Officer and was responsible for roughly 20 men. In refusing to deploy (or refusing to acknowledge his movement orders) not only did he disobey a direct order, but he put the lives of his men at risk by leaving them without a commanding officer. Keep in mind that these soldiers are all fresh recruits, 18-19 years old. Lt. Watada was absolutely in the wrong and I hope they throw the book at him. It's a pity they can't prosecute the fools who counseled him to this decision.
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