US Army lieutenant to be court-martialed for protesting Iraq war

[JURIST] The US Army announced Thursday that it will push forward with a court martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], an Army officer who refused [JURIST report] deployment to Iraq and openly protested the war as ‘unlawful’. Fort Lewis [official website] commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik followed an investigating officer’s recommendation [JURIST report] to go to court-martial, forwarding charges of missing troop movement and conduct unbecoming an officer. Watada was initially charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] with missing troop movement, contempt toward officials, and multiple specifications [JURIST report] of conduct unbecoming.

Watada, a 28 year old from Honolulu, joined the Army in 2003 and has served in Korea. He refuses to be classified as a conscientious objector because he does not object to war in general, just to the ‘illegal’ war in Iraq. He had offered to instead serve in Afghanistan, however the Army refused. Watada is the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. His vocal protests and participation in rallies by Veterans for Peace [advocacy website] and Courage to Resist [advocacy website] led to the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and the original charge of contempt toward officials. AP has more.

 

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