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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Watada’s Iraq refusal

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, center, addresses the media and supporters, on June 7, 2006, in Tacoma. Watada said he feels the Iraq war is illegal and immoral and he refuses to deploy.

The Times has it wrong

Editor, The Times:

The disgraceful editorial on U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada’s judgment [“Time for Army, Watada to part company,” Opinion, May 8] misses the mark on several counts: acting as judge and jury by convicting him of “conduct unbecoming”; assuming the Iraq war is legal (still very much an open question); and advocating a discharge that is less than honorable.

The most glaring error, however, is the pretzel-logic that Watada’s judgment doesn’t align with military service because he acted in “concern for his own prerogatives.” Nothing seems further from the truth.

Watada said repeatedly he opposed the war in Iraq not merely for selfish reasons, but for other soldiers under his command.

From a June 7, 2006, interview with Sarah Olson of truthout.org: “I am fighting for my men still, and I am supporting them. But the conscionable way to support them … is to oppose this war and help end it so all soldiers can come home. It is my duty not to follow unlawful orders and not participate in things I find morally reprehensible.”

We can only hope that military officers, as Watada did, take command responsibilities seriously — intended to protect their soldiers — and adhere to all aspects of military justice and the rule of law, not just select parts The Times feels are appropriate.

— Kendall Watson, Seattle

Bush administration deserves more scrutiny

I appreciate the thoughtful Bert Sacks’ May 8 letter regarding 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [“Refusal to deploy: a crime to participate in war of aggression,” Northwest Voices, Opinion] and would like to further point out the absurdity that this man of conscience has endured incarceration and a long legal battle with the military when war criminals George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz will never see even a modicum of justice for the illegal war of aggression they perpetrated, which resulted in the misery, death and injury of hundreds of thousands.

If we were truly a nation of laws and not of men, these pathetic despots would assuredly experience the inside of the world court in The Hague instead of their happy retirement, and people like Watada would be well-deserved heroes.

— Brian Williamson, Seattle

Duty is to protect the Constitution

Following 9/11, George W. Bush insisted we destroy weapons of mass destruction and remove Saddam Hussein, but WMD weren’t found, nor any link between Hussein and al-Qaida.

Bush reputedly intended to invade Iraq before 9/11. If information was skewed to convince Congress in 2002 to authorize force against Hussein, then Bush abused authority, deceiving the public and Congress.

In 2004, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared the U.S. invasion of Iraq in nonconformity with the U.N. Charter. Many international legal experts and world leaders believe the Iraq war is illegal.

The Nuremberg trials held an officer’s duty to disobey illegal orders. The U.S. endorsed the Nuremberg principles and ratified the Geneva Conventions and U.N. Charter, making them legally binding under Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution: “All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.”

The Uniform Code of Military Justice stated lawful orders must conform to the Constitution and U.S law. The Army Field Manual denotes an explicit duty to disobey unlawful orders.

Watada refused deployment only after intense consideration. His offer to serve in Afghanistan, a military presence he believed lawful, was rejected.

An officer’s duty is to protect the Constitution.

— Bambi Lin Litchman, Tacoma

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