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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:59 AM
Original message
Watada’s Victory Lets Military Off the Hook
http://mwcnews.net/content/view/18100/26 /

by Jacob G. Hornberger

It seems like the U.S. Military might be let off the hook by a federal judge’s ruling in case of Lt. Ehren Watada. The judge has issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the military from prosecuting Watada, pending whether the military can successfully show that the prosecution of Watada would not violate the double-jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Here is what is going on in this case and why it is so important.

At the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, Nazi officials were charged with the war crime of waging a war of aggression. What that meant was that the German government had attacked and waged war against countries that had not attacked Germany.

Watada ultimately came to the realization that the U.S. government was committing the war crime for which Nazi officials had been indicted and convicted at Nuremberg, to wit: attacking a country, Iraq, that had not attacked the United States. Once he realized that, Watada refused to blindly obey orders to participate in the war crime. He refused to deploy to Iraq, both on the legal grounds arising out of the Nuremberg proceedings and the moral ground that it’s wrong to kill people, even as a soldier, in a war of aggression.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government took the same position that the German government took — that soldiers cannot refuse to participate in a war, even if it is an immoral and illegal war of aggression being waged by their ruler. Whether the war is immoral or illegal is not an issue for the soldier, claim U.S. officials. Those are issues to be decided by their commander in chief. snip

So, why did I begin by saying that the federal judge’s injunction might have let the military off the hook? Because if Watada is convicted and his double-jeopardy claim rejected, when he appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court would be faced squarely with the crucial question: Are U.S. soldiers bound to obey orders to commit the war of crime of waging a war of aggression?

Are they duty bound to sacrifice conscience and reason when ordered to participate in the killing of people in a war of aggression? The answer might not be one that the president and the military would like. If the Court ruled for Watada, the ruling would obviously constitute one of the biggest transformations of the principles of military service in history.

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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for posting. I followed Lt. Ehren Watada closely. n/t
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
2. Is disobeying illegal orders illegal?
Well, that would be quite the pickle for the military. Imagine a squad of guys lawyering up when they're told they're going clear and hold a neighborhood. "So Sarge, you're saying we have to shoot anyone who runs?" "Someone who doesn't run is just a well-disciplined terrorist, isn't that what you said last week?" "Just aim lower to shoot the kids, those still our orders, Sarge?"

Gee, what might happen if mindless violence gave way to thoughtful consideration of the ramifications and consequences. Why, some wars might never be fought at all! And that's an intolerable possibility for our country's leaders.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:32 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Belive me
There is alot of consideration and Lawyering up. over there, and they still shoot at us.

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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. And yet the massacres and torture still keep happening
Those dirty birds! Defending themselves from foreign invaders like that. I know that we Americans, should we be invaded and occupied by another country would docilely go along with them, because it would inarguably be for our own good. Those Iraqis just don't appreciate the wonderful favor we're doing them.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #10
17. Misunderstanding my post
n/t
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #17
25. there's very little there to understand, Squid
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #25
28. Sorry it was posted in haste.
Please disregard, I honestly am not sure where I was going with that. (A little distracted with all of the football).
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. i was having a very hard time understanding much of what you've posted in this thread
not to be insulting, but brevity sometimes counts against you.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #32
34. Yeah I have that problem
I am still working on my posting "technique"
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:14 AM
Response to Original message
3. what must be known by every soldier, is that we will support any that lay down their arms
and refuse to participate in illegal wars.
that's why i support Courage to Resist.
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Officers should take a little more consideration when they refuse to serve
n/t
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #8
24. Watada served his country well, and we should all be proud of him
refusing to participate in a war of aggression should be his mark of honor.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #24
30. I am glad I have you to tell me how to think
and perform my duty.
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:17 AM
Response to Original message
4. btw, i was told here, by some pompous ass, that "Watada
would be retried". and basically saying he should be. and convicted.
well, unnamed pompous ass, it looks like he won't be.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:20 AM
Response to Original message
5. hang on a second...
he disobeyed an order to deploy, not to shoot kids in the back. let's not let good hyperbole get in the way of facts, shall we?
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. I have alot of words for Watada
Not many good
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. And what are they?
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. please take that back..
no one cares.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. He cared enough to say it. I care enough to hear it.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. lol, check out the site that shall not be named
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. Squid came from those lower depths?
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. i never said that
not in so many words.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. Didnt take very long for that insinuation...
n/t
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. I know, I will get flamed
But as a military officer myself I have fairly stong views about it.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. It's a free country, still. Say them.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #16
19. Free speech is not allowed on this topic
I am assured
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. yeah, sure, whatever
get bent.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. That was mature
you learn that in debate class?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #23
26. You learned coyness in finishing school.?
It doesn't become you.

In any event, sub rosa comments are worthless.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. I made my feelings clear in an earlier post
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 11:53 AM by SharkSquid
Nothing has been said "sub rosa" (since I did not confide in anyone, the reference is a bit off).
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
31. Refusing to deploy to where orders often mean shooting at civilians?
That's not a tremendous amount of hyperbole.

Treason is, as they say, merely a matter of dates. Had more military officers refused to participate in the invasion, Watada would never have had to refuse to join the occupation.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:57 AM
Response to Reply #31
33. Are you a veteran
Or currently in the military?
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #33
37. Would my claiming either status change the doubtless-substantial response you are crafting? n/t
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. Very nice, I was just curious honestly
I would like to know about your background...It would help me to understand your position.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #39
42. How about telling me what you think of my last posts...
...without looking for excuses to discount them? I would like for you, finally, to state your own position on the Watada matter. I've been very clear about my own, I think.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #42
43. I refer to post 38 n/t
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. And post 8 n/t
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #44
46. "A little more consideration" is hardly specific.
How do you feel about Watada's position? If you think he should have deployed, how many other orders do you think he should have obeyed?

Do you feel that he should have obeyed all orders, and issued orders of his own that supported them? Do you feel that he should have remained silent? Please elaborate.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #46
48. Watada has a responsibility
I will not make a comment about the legality of orders because they are my orders as well.


His soldiers in his unit will and have deployed, they do not have the luxury of Watada's conscience. He should have deployed, I think his reasoning is bunk and his legal arguement is flawed at best and won't hold water in military courts (which are often suprisingly fair). He should have been justly court-martialed but he got off on a technicality.

If asked to do something in theatre that was illegal, he should have refused to perform that order (as others have) but refusing to deploy shows us nothing but the abandonment of his men.

I do give him credit for being prepared to accept the fate he knew would come though...

Clear enough?
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #48
53. That's pretty clear.
I think it's a mistake to label his case nothing but a legal argument, though. I think he tried his best to find a legal basis for a moral, and possibly illegal, decision. He sort of failed, but his moral case is obviously so compelling that the military would prefer to sweep it under the carpet--and apologists feel obligated to scorn him.

No contract with the US government must be a person's highest duty. Your invocation of the soldiers under Watada's command comes closer to the mark, but still ignores what I think is a great example he set for subordinates. He did what he saw as right, without (in my opinion) harming anyone, and at great inconvenience and even risk to himself.

If only the military planners of this war had thought as Watada did, and had risked their own careers to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I would feel more sympathy for your position had Congress actually declared war. No, they simply stood aside and let * use our armed forces like toy soldiers. Congress also showed less courage than Watada did.

There are troops who have done what they see as their duty in the invasion and occupation, and have done it without personally committing war crimes. If I were in the military now, I would hope for the courage of Lt. Watada, and I probably couldn't muster it--as all our other troops have done.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #31
35. that's my problem with Watada's case...
he had yet to be ordered into combat. IIRC (and forgive me for not being able to provide a link on this), i read that he'd been offered a "desk assignment" in Iraq and that he turned it down. "where orders often mean shooting at civilians" is a legal mile away from being ordered to shoot at civilians.

given that the order he disobeyed was simply to deploy to a combat zone, i have a harder time with the facts supporting his claim. there was a thread a few weeks ago about a soldier's right under the UCMJ to disobey an order he knows to be illegal, but the soldier is not permitted to make the determination as to whether an order is potentially illegal.

trust me, i support Lt. Watada and the stand he's taken against the occupation. i wish for his sake that he had a stronger factual basis on which to make his stand.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #35
38. Hes an officer
Higher standard, men to lead. His unit is still over there, the men he is supposed to lead are over there fighting and dying...
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #35
41. Some of the facts are strongly on his side.
Iraq never attacked us. We attacked them. Ergo, war of aggression.

Military law says that soldiers must obey orders, anyway. Watada, however, claims that the military has abdicated its moral authority with its war of aggression. Is he obligated to obey a legal order to support an illegal occupation? That's the only matter of opinion I see here, and I agree with his decision. It's not easy to rationalize participating in any way in operations that kill civilians, and it's harder still when their government didn't start the war.

I understand that a properly-rendered legal decision could find him guilty. However, that decision is being made by an authority whose integrity has been utterly compromised. If the military won't consider the legality of the war itself, they aren't able to judge his moral stance.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #41
45. Watada is not the judge and jury.
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 12:21 PM by MrCoffee
Watada has made himself judge and jury of the entire military. he cannot do that. not under US law, not under international law, not under the UCMJ, not under any legal code you can point to.

he is obligated to follow a direct order, regardless of his personal opinion as to the legality of the order, under the UCMJ.

i hope he wins. the judge running the court-martial screwed up big time, but it was a procedural, not a substantive, screw-up.

on edit: the military cannot consider the legality of a war it is ordered to fight.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #45
47. You've more or less reiterated my position...
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 01:03 PM by Orsino
...except that you've said that he can't do what he has already done. I've already stated that I can see how a military court could have convicted him. But to insist that Watada cannot do otherwise than obey orders in this case is more authoritarianism than I can agree with.

I support his decision whether or not there was a basis for it in the UCMJ, and whether or not he goes to prison.

on edit: ...and I'm glad the military seems to be letting his case disappear quietly.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #47
49. the man signed up for a volunteer army
he put his name on the enlistment papers. he agreed to be governed by the UCMJ for his conduct while in the army.

disagreement with the law is no excuse for violating it. calling it authoritarianism doesn't change the fact that he was given a direct order by a superior officer, which he disobeyed, in violation of the UCMJ, a code he agreed to follow when he signed up.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. Disagreement with the law is the *only* good reason for violating it.
"I was only following orders" is a meaningless excuse, in my opinion. I understand the quandary of the enlisted soldier, trapped economically in a military engaged in criminal activity. I really do understand that, and it's yet another reason that I applaud Watada. He didn't just enlist; he accepted a commission as an officer, which is in some ways a greater commitment. What he did was difficult, and he pursued his path when given many reasons to give up and be silenced.
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MrCoffee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #50
51. fair enough
thanks for the civil discussion.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #51
54. And thank you.
I certainly don't want to label all our troops war criminals. That honor must go first to the architects of a patently illegal pseudo-war. The responsibility a military officer is so great that I think every one of them should consider Watada's path--even if they ultimately decide to accompany the troops they lead. There are honorable decisions to be made either way.
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #50
52. However as you said before
His men are trapped in that system and have gone to war without one of their combat leaders.

I would be interested to see how many are alive and if Watada's replacement survived.

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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
6. I am glad Watada's ordeal is over. It would have been nice to settle
the issue though. When a country engages in elective wars of aggression and occupation, the country is on very shaky ground IMO.
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Tom Joad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
27. ehren, appropiately enough, is the german word for "honor". Ehren Watada honored his
commitment to his oath, to his country, and to his planet.
Never is it right to participate in illegal wars.
Never.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
36. k and r
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SharkSquid Donating Member (659 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #36
40. k
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ClayZ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:37 PM
Response to Original message
55. Lt.. Watada's speech on CITIZEN RESPONSIBILITY
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 03:37 PM by ClayZ
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