Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the war in Iraq. By refusing to participate in the on-going Iraq war and occupation, Lt. Watada joins a growing number of high ranking military officers, West Point graduates, and current and former members of the armed services who have expressed their opposition to the actions of the United States in Iraq. Lieutenant Watada’s refusal comes in the wake of a series of charges and convictions against lower ranking soldiers for participation in war-related crimes: 9 Marines charged with premeditated murder yesterday, charges of a massacre in Haditha, Iraq and convictions at Abu Ghraib Prison.
Lt. Watada faces possible court-martial charges for refusing to participate in the Iraq war and occupation and intends to defend himself based on the illegality of the Iraq war and occupation. Lt. Watada, age 28, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where he enlisted in the Army and was obligated to serve on active duty as an Army officer for a term of three years concluding on December 3, 2006. Lt. Watada was stationed at Ft. Lewis in January 2006, when he first asked to resign his commission because as he stated, "I am whole-heartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership."
On June 27, a national day of action in support of Lt. Watada and coordinated through the website www.ThankYouLt.org will take place in dozens of US cities, including: Ft. Lewis, WA; Tacoma, WA; Honolulu, HI; Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Harrisburg, PA; San Francisco, CA; Oklahoma City, OK; Atlanta, GA; Corvallis, OR; Medford, OR; New York City, NY; and Pittsburgh, PA.
Lt. Watada’s mother, Carolyn Ho, who flew in from Honolulu, Hawaii to support her son, said today, “My son’s decision to refrain from deploying to Iraq comes through much soul searching. It is an act of patriotism. It is a statement to all Americans, to men and women in uniform, that they need not remain silent out of fear, that that they have the power to turn the tide of history: to stop the destruction of a country and the killing of untold numbers of innocent men, women, and children. It is a message that states unequivocally that blindly following orders is no longer an option. My son, Lt. Watada’s stance is clear. He will stay the course. I urge you to join him in this effort.”
Judy Linehan, of Military Families Speak Out said, “As the mother of an officer who deployed to Iraq with Lt Ehren Watada’s Stryker Brigade in their first mission, I know the human cost of war intimately. I stand in solidarity with Lt Watada as he breaks ranks with a Commander-in-Chief who has flouted international law with impunity in the prosecution of this illegal war and occupation of an unarmed country. The lieutenant’s quiet resolve and quest for truth facing into our government’s fabricated deceptions carry hope to a world that trusts in the rule of law. Thank you, Lt Watada, for your courageous stand.”