Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

17 September 2006

The Lt. Watada Court Martial as a Free Speech Issue

I haven't written on the The Lt. Watada Court Martial in a while. Unfortunately that does not mean that nothing has happened. This eloquent son of Hawaii is being prosecuted by the Defense Department for speaking out against the war. According to his support group, Friends and Family of Lt. Watada:

If convicted of all charges, Lt. Watada could now face over eight years in prison, more than six of them for publicly voicing his opposition to what he considers an illegal and immoral war.

I join them in asking you to send a personal note requesting he be allowed to serve in Afghanistan (no, he's not a CO) or some other duties, and not to be pubished for taking a position as a citizen-soldier. Please write to:

Commanding General
Fort Lewis and I Corps
Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik
Bldg 2025 Stop 1
Fort Lewis WA 98433

According to the suppport group:

Lt. Gen. Dubik can be reached via his aide at 253-967-0022, and/or call the Ft. Lewis switchboard at 253-967-1110. We are aware that these numbers often refer "Lt. Watada's supporters" to the Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office at 206-967-7166.

I think that he and his family deserve a lot of credit for taking this position.

2 Comment(s):

  • Last I checked, he accepted a commission after we invaded the Iraq war, so he was fully aware that he might be deployed to Iraq. If he felt the war was illegal, he should not have accepted a commission. I hope he understands what it was like for the men in his brigade to drive past his 'supporters' all the time before they left their own families to fight in a war they may or may not have believed in. You clearly don't. While I won't call him a coward - given how he is largely reviled by his former comrades but was willing to stand up in the media - I think he is a fool if he joined the ARMY believing he could pick and choose which orders to follow. He was not ordered to commit atrocities. If he'd been ordered to kill innocent children or torture people, I'd agree with his duty to disobey. But what he was ordered to do was get on a plane and fly somewhere, and he jumped the gun by assuming he would then be ordered to commit atrocities. He's an embarrassment.

    Perhaps if you'd had friends who served honorably, who went not because they believed in the war but because they were not going to abandon their buddies, people who died to support each other - you might not feel quite so warm and fuzzy about this guy.

    By Blogger Kasi, at Monday, February 04, 2008 8:52:00 PM  

  • Aloha Kasi. Thank you for our comments. I truly appreciate your honest response.

    Since you contribute to the blog "Loving A Soldier. Living The Life," I assume that you are married or related to a deployed soldier. I can try to understand why you feel the way you do. Of course, it must be terribly hard to send your loved one off to serve in Iraq. I can only imagine how emotional you feel about this complex issue. I had some friends who were in the same position. I know it is not easy on any level.

    Some people have tried to paint those of us who are against the war as being against the troops. I hope you can see that we are fellow Americans who hope to see your husband returned to you ASAP. It seems clear to me that the best way to support the troops is to bring them back home to their families and jobs. Most Iraqis don't want us there, so the life of an American soldier there has to be a living nightmare.

    In Watada's case, he is not trying to pick and choose battles because it is hell. He said that he would have been willing to be deployed to Afghanistan, so it should be clear that he was not trying to get out of a war zone. He did not even request CO status. I imagine the DOD would have dropped charges if he had quietly declared himself a CO. Rather they are punishing him for questioning this war.

    You are correct that he volunteered after the war began, but like most of us, only later could he have read about how the Bush administration lied about our reasons for invading Iraq. Lt. Watada became increasingly concerned about the morality of the war. You can't hold him accountable for his understanding of the war in Iraq at the time when he signed up, since he based his understanding of the war on the false information fed us by the White House.


    Ever since the Nuremberg War Crimes trials, it is important to recognize that soldiers are accountable for their actions. That means that soldiers have to be able to dissent from immoral orders. This is what Watada did.

    I was not at any of the Watada support demonstrations, but I imagine that they also were calling on the Military to recognize his Nuremberg Defense rights under international law (shaped by the US in postwar Germany).

    When you think about it, I hope that you would also support your husband's right to that defense. Imagine if he had a CO order him to bomb a school with innocent children or a hospital. Of course, in any military it is important to respect a chain of command, but the Nuremberg Defense allows soldiers their humanity, and really is the only way to stop some commanders from "Victory" at any cost.

    Thank you again for reading this, and taking the time to express yourself. I pray for your husband's speedy and healthy return.

    By Blogger Dr. Drew, at Sunday, February 10, 2008 5:26:00 AM  

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