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."
James M. Branum, an Oklahoma lawyer who has worked with many war resisters: "The Army doesn't have enough jail cells to accommodate all the people who go AWOL."
Nearly 7,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, according to figures from each branch of the US military.
Courage To Resist may have more info on Thursday.