On Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. He announced his duty to disobey the illegal order to deploy to Iraq in coordinated press conferences in Tacoma, Washington and Honolulu, Hawaii via a video taped messaged due to a direct military order not to attend the pre-scheduled Tacoma press conference.You can listen to Lt. Watada's statement here.
It is no surprise that the US military is trying to silence Lt. Watada. From Thank You, LT:
The following day, Thursday, June 8th, Lt. Watada's commanding officer moved to prosecute Lt. Watada for nothing more than his protected free speech. Lt. Watada was read his rights and declined to make a statement without a lawyer present. Although the Fort Lewis military public affairs officer has stated that Lt. Watada "hasn’t done anything wrong" so far, an official investigation into his public speech is underway.Unfortunately, the information in the press release is not completely clear. I'm not sure what Watada is being charged with, or what the US military is doing to suppress his public speaking. I do know that I want to support this brave man.
When soldiers join the military they swear to uphold our Constitution. They do not give up their basic right to freedom of speech. Outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1325.6, members of the military have the right to say what they think and feel about the military, and even participate in peaceful demonstrations, as long as they are off-duty, out of uniform, off-base, and within the United States.
My opposition to the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq costs me nothing. (Although I did take a few unpaid days off from work to attend demos!) But really, when I blog about the war, nothing is at stake. This man is putting everything on the line. That's moral courage, which is more impressive - and more rare - than the physical variety.
Friends Of LT asks us to write or call:
"Dear Col Stephen Townsend; Please drop the investigation currently underway against First Lt. Ehren Watada of 3-2 SBCT for his protected free speech in opposition to the war in Iraq. Respectfully,"This guy's doing our heavy lifting. Let's try to help.
Col Stephen Townsend
3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
Fort Lewis WA 98433
Lt Gen James Dubik
Fort Lewis WA 98433