Justice Dept. drops case against war resister Watada
The Department of Justice has dropped its case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a war resister who refused Iraq deployment in June 2006 and denounced President George W. Bush’s decision to invade as illegal and immoral.
In Feb. 2007, military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head halted Watada’s case following possible inconsistencies concerning a “stipulation of fact” agreed before the hearing. The decision led to a mistrial, ending Watada’s court martial. The Army appealed, but a judge said Watada could not be tried again on the same charges, as it would violate his right to be free of double jeopardy.
The Justice Department is dropping its appeal of that judge’s decision.
“Because there are no longer any criminal charges pending against Lt. Watada, and because (his) military service has been extended far beyond his normal release date, he anticipates that he will soon be released from active duty,” Watada’s attorney, James Lobsenz, said in a media advisory published Wednesday. “He plans to return to civilian life and to attend law school.”
Wiki: Watada joined the Army after the war in Iraq had begun, stating that he was motivated “out of a desire to protect our country” after the September 11 attacks. He was commissioned by the Army’s Officer Candidate School, on November 20, 2003, at Fort Benning, Georgia as a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery — one month after UNSCR 1511 authorized a multinational force in Iraq. Watada served one year in South Korea, and was subsequently reassigned to Fort Lewis, Washington.
Soon after reporting to Fort Lewis, Watada discovered that his unit would be deploying to Iraq, in support of ongoing operations there. In preparation to deploy, he began conducting research on the country, its culture, and the reasons for the U.S. involvement in Iraq. Watada claims that, after reading several books and articles about the history of Iraq, international law, and the evidence used to justify the war, and speaking with veterans returning from Iraq, he ceased to believe in its legality and justification.
“I could never conceive of our leader betraying the trust we had in him. As I read about the level of deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked. I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. If the president can betray my trust, it’s time for me to evaluate what he’s telling me to do,” Watada said, according to the court martial charge sheet.