Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

patriotically unacceptable because of a possible "harm" to troop discipline and morale

The Watada court martial opens this week. Concerned citizen activists are gathering in and around Fort Lewis discussing and/or planning what they are going to do about this court martial.

The primary priority for some is an ultimate acquittal for the Lt. - meaning minimal or no time served in incarceration.

For others, the Watada case represents a potential talk-of-the-nation discussion of the war, the lies and the future.

Without worrying about whether or not the Lt. "loses" his case and has to serve time for it - and I sincerely hope that does not happen - I'm worried about much more. I both worry about and hope is that this nation with a majority of families who DON'T have skin in the game will address the absence of moral responsibility for what leaders have done in our name.

 

I've written previously about the antics of civilian leadership when it deliberately ignores or downplays the horrific consequences of war, bombing campaigns and torture, justifying an evil  by something other than literal defense of the homeland. This is a reflection of legitimate moral blindness that puts military families at a disproportionate amount of risk in this country.

We have let them get away with it.

In the face of our obsession with Super Bowls, car races, idols, survivors and celebrity dancers we see revealed a tragic flaw in our civilian society.

This in a nation established and sustained by military will, strength and courage.

The history of our revolution, our Civil War and the World Wars does not reflect a nation primarily ignorant of this nation's foreign and domestic affairs. Back then the country was not dominated by consumers sitting around playing games, pursuing entertainment and dabbling in pursuits of fame and fortune all the while waiting for a president to tell them what to do and why.

They were not dependent solely on the president to tell them that it was time to start paying attention and what they should focus on.

They were more aware back then of the real global situation. They were willing to join up or send their sons and daughters, trusting that their President was both honest and wise in commanding as chief.

Not this time in this age of America.

The recent Citizen's Tribunal in Tacoma - among other things - was a public effort at showcasing many of the legitimate arguments supporting the illegality of the war.

The military, which of itself doesn't make the decision to invade and occupy, nor initiate shock and awe without being ordered to do so, must build a case against Watada that establishes or justifies the "harm" of his words and actions.

It's in the Army's best interest to portray Watada's actions not only as violations of the UCMJ, but patriotically unacceptable because of a possible "harm" to troop discipline and morale; supposedly impacting the effectiveness of troops already serving in harm's way.

When the Watada Court Martial commences, are we likely to see prosecution attempt to justify its position by calling on families, wives and children of active duty personnel in Iraq to testify about Ehren`s negative impact on troop morale as well as the morale of military families?

You bet we are and there`s nothing unfair about that as a legal tactic.

The recent Tribunal either attempted and failed or more likely chose not to bring in rebuttal testimony and I'm not faulting them for that. The Panel Chairperson announced early on that the Tribunal made no claims to impartiality, only to truth. The panel then proceeded toward truth with a view unrestricted by procedural concerns, equal time or rebuttals.

But at the Court Martial, if we see families testifying as to how harmful the Lt's actions are, what do we do with that point of view?

It's one thing to be part of an activist group, crowd or mob where the choir dominates, speeches run to redundancy and spontaneity of action usually results in mighty roars of approval.

It's another to speak amidst a crowd or to an audience wherein mixed perspectives and priorities are present. Roars of approval then compete with disapproving shouts. For activists seeking chain reactions and stampedes the thrill is not the same.

My point with this is to examine ultimately what Lt. Watada and those bearing the grandest scale perspectives think they are after with Ehren.

Based on his own statements, I'm assuming that Lt. Watada hopes to start a cascade of feelings that generate thoughts that lead to words and finally actions that stop the war, end the killing and bring the crimes to a halt.

That's a reasonable message to send to military families, not some sort of "free Watada from the brig" civil disobedience that elevates one individual beyond that which he himself desires or to an undue level of importance at the expense of something greater.

Lietta and I, as members of Military Families Speak Out, do not desire divisiveness with any other military families over a  Watada-deserves-punishment versus Watada-deserves-freedom issue.

Watada himself is not the point.  

Although I make no comparison between Watada and Jesus, I see in some activists an insistance that support for Watada is more important that what Watada is talking about.

And that attitude is not unlike contemporary Evangelical Christianity and its excessive focus on Jesus himself rather than the philosophy and God Jesus pointed to as a means of making humanity more humane, less cruel, less judgmental, less self-interested and less violent.

In my opinion, citizens in this country must take ownership and responsibility for the actions carried out in our names. We do not let anyone irresponsibly and without accountablility send our children out to fight. We do not expect our children to serve this country with no sense of ethics simply because the ethical and moral sense has been assigned to higher authorities.

What we want of all military families is a projection - into the lives of their loved ones who serve - the safety AND moral issues connected with the purpose of service right now in Iraq.

We don't want a military wife to tell us what's right or wrong about Watada.

We do ask that a military wife focus on her husband and the situational and moral quagmire he is in; that he's stuck in his current venue because no one to date has challenged the legality of the orders given him nor the ultimate unwise and unethical civilian source.

We don't excuse our soldiers for ethical and moral lapses because authorities placed in positions of appointed power have - with self-preserving hypocrisy - labeled offenders as some few "bad apples," who deserve no further close scrutiny and need to be locked up, the key thrown away.

We should not tolerate civilian administrators pleading innocence because of the vast gap between the highest echelons of authority and the lowest front line chain of command;

 

a front line where sergeants can be punished because a corporal suffered from the same moral blindness as those self-serving civilians on Mount The invasion that became a military occupation has deteriorated to an on-going action carried on in the name of staying on a course that has been revealed as illegal, immoral and destructive of the innocent.

 

  • staying a false course that deliberately destroys more innocent victims than it does terrorists

     

  • because we were lied to by a dishonest leadership  that now declares that ending the illegal aggression would be "cutting and running."

     

This lack of moral responsibility pervades the current administration which is now seated at the steering wheel;

- villainous fools who are passing judgment on the moral fiber of anyone who disagrees, thereby labeling dissent as treason.

Our soldiers absolutely must emerge from basic and combat training with moral competence intact.

I hope that stories of institutionalized programming of racial hatred, bigotry, stereotyping and name-calling are not predominantly a part of teaching warriors a moral and ethical code. If the testimony and stories reflect what is happeneing across the board, I again declare here and now that the military training organizations are not doing it in my name nor on behalf of my family.

I repudiate these training tactics based on moral recklessness.

We hopefully raise our children with the expectation that they will become independent and self-reliant adults.



If my son or daughter joins the military and enters into its initiations, I am not being unreasonable in expecting that this current  military establishment reclaims its own sense of ethical and moral responsibility from the immorality of a corrupt president and his party.

I expect that sense to coincide with that which we as parents have endeavored to plant in our children's hearts.

I expect that all military families are not unreasonable in such an expectation before they decide to say who is patriotic and who isn't.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 21 January 2007

Now Playing: Citzen's Tribunal on Legality of the War in Iraq
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq

Tacoma, WA, Jan 20-21, 2007

Live Blogging Coverage at Washblog.com - almost verbatim reporting of the testimonies from Daniel Ellsberg, Ann Wright, Iraq veterans;  former JAG and Arabic linquist Lt Harvey Tharp, non-commissioned officer Geoffrey Millard, Richard Falk,Benjamin Davis, Denis Halliday.

 see more blogger reports of other testimonies at   Washblog.com

also visit Citizens' Hearing on Legalility of U.S. Actions in Iraq website for continually updated reports and audio of the 2 days of testimony.  You won't want to miss any of these poignant and powerful testimonies.

http://www.wartribunal.org

 

We intend for the Citizens' Hearing to heighten the discussion of the Iraq invasion and occupation in the public--and within the military itself--as similar tribunals did during the Vietnam War. We are inviting testimony by Iraq War witnesses and experts. Your donation will be used to bring the testifiers and panelists to Tacoma and to record the event so everyone can benefit from the testimony.

The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court martial. His defense attorneys maintain that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada’s defense argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.

The format of the Citizens' Hearing will resemble that of a congressional committee, employing a dignified approach to gathering information. Testimony will be offered by Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates. Your gift of funds (or frequent flyer miles) will enable more of these clear voices to be heard by people around the country and the world. Among the figures that have committed to testify are:

*Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;


*Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;

*Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;

*Harvey Tharp, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant. Arabic linquist  and JAG stationed in Iraq;

*Ann Wright, Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;

*Stacy Bannerman Military Families Speak Out; author of "When the War Came Home"

*Antonia Juhasz, policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;

*John Burroughs, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy executive director;

*Benjamin G. Davis, Assoc. Law Prof., Univ. of Toledo; expert on law of war;

*Eman Khammas, Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).

*Geoffrey Millard, 8 years in NY Army National Guard; stationed in Ground Zero, Kuwait, Iraq.

*Darrell Anderson, Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart

*Dennis Kyne, 15 years as Army medic & drill sergeant; trained in NBC warfare; Gulf War I.

*Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at University of Illinois (video testimony)

*Chanan Suarez-Diaz, Former Navy hospital corpsman; awarded Purple Heart & Commendation with Valor.

A panel of citizens will hear the testimony, examine witnesses, and issue a fact-finding report. The panel will be comprised of veterans, members of military families, high school students, union members, and representatives of local governments, academia, and religious organizations. David Krieger, Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Former Army 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War, and a member of the Jury of Conscience at the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq (in Istanbul) will serve as panel chair.

     read more at website - Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq  -   www.wartribunal.org


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:49 AM PDT
Thursday, 4 January 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Army Subpoenas WA activists To Testify Against Lt. Watada

First it was reporters being subpoenaed (Dahr Jamail, Sara Olson, and Gregg Kakesako) and now it expands to local activists in Washington state. The Army has issued subpoenas to local WA state activists to testify in the upcoming court martial of Lt. Watada.  Veterans for Peace, Washington based organizer Gerry Haynes; Veterans for Peace organizer organizer Tom Burkhart; Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace member Phan Nguyen - received subpoena's to testify.

 

Military subpoenas reporters and activists to help prosecute Lt. Watada.

Pre-trial hearing underway today, however judge delays testimony of those subpoenaed until full court martial February 5. Journalists say free press threatened. Activists say Army demands they "name names" in effort to chill anti-war organizing.

At a Tacoma, Washington press conference yesterday, January 3, Olympia-based anti-war activist Phan Nguyen described his objections to having been subpoenaed last week by the Army to testify against Lt. Watada. Nguyen, a member of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, was the moderator of a number of press conferences in June 2006 regarding Lt. Watada and his objections to serving in an illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

When contacted directly by Army prosecutor Captain Daniel Kuecker last week, Nguyen refused to answer any questions without first speaking with a lawyer. However, Nguyen described the Kuecker's line of questions as focusing on the behind the scenes workings of the anti-war movement in the Pacific Northwest. "Kuecker basically demanded that I name the names of any key organizers that had anything to do with the public support campaign created to support Lt. Watada," explained Nguyen. "They are clearly on a political fishing expedition. Unless we fight back, this could have a chilling effect on anti-war organizing at a time when we have to step up to end the war."

Seattle chapter Veterans for Peace (VFP) organizer Gerri Haynes has also been subpoenaed by the Army. Apparently, Haynes landed on the Army's radar because she played a public role in organizing the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Seattle last August. Like Jamail, the Army is looking for information regarding Lt. Watada's speech to the convention. Like Nguyen, Haynes confirmed that Kuecker "wanted the names of convention attendees and organizers." Another VFP organizer Tom Burkhart has been placed on the Army's witness list.

above was quoted from Courage to Resist


Planned Support Actions

The campaign to support Lt. Watada plans a protest and press conference at the gates of Fort Lewis this morning from 8 AM to 11 AM as the pre-trial hearing begins.

Supporters can also express their support writing to Fort Lewis Commanding General;

 Lt. General James Dubik,
 Commanding General Fort Lewis,
 1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1,
 Fort Lewis WA 98433.




 The Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq: The Case of Lt. Ehren Watada

will be held on January 20-21 in Tacoma, two weeks before the court martial of Lt. Watada at Fort Lewis. The national event will put the Iraq War on trial, in response to the Army's trial of Lt. Watada.  

Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates will offer testimony, in a format that will resemble that of a congressional committee. We are inviting testimony by Iraq War veterans and experts to inform military personnel and other citizens to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities in an illegal war." Testifiers will include:

Denis Halliday   Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;


Daniel Ellsberg   Military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;


Richard Falk   Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;


Ann Wright   Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;


Nadia McCaffrey Gold Star Families Speak Out; Brussels Tribunal advisory board;


Darrell Anderson  Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart;


Harvey Tharp   Former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and JAG stationed in Iraq;


Antonia Juhasz  Policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;


John Burroughs  Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy Executive Director;


Benjamin G. Davis  Assoc. Prof. of Law, University of Toledo; expert on law of war;


Geoffrey Millard  8 years in Army National Guard; now in Iraq Veterans Against the War;


Francis Boyle   Professor of international law at Univ. of Chicago (via video);


Eman Khammas  Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).

The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court martial. He maintains that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Monday, 14 August 2006

Now Playing: Dahr Jamail Truthout.org
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada
 Ehren Watada
By Dahr Jamail
Monday 14 August 2006

On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to be at the Veterans for Peace National Convention.

For that night, Lt. Ehren Watada was able to give the following speech, which I've just received permission to post here. The speech was met with a powerful, standing ovation from the vets who've been there.

Lt. Ehren Watada, for those who don't already know, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful war and occupation in Iraq. While doing this on June 22, 2006, Watada said,

"As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must refuse that order."

Just as Watada took the stage and began to speak, over 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War filed in behind him. Watada, surprised by this and obviously taken aback by the symbolic act, turned back to the audience, took some deep breaths, then gave this speech:
"Thank you everyone. Thank you all for your tremendous support.

How honored and delighted I am to be in the same room with you tonight. I am deeply humbled by being in the company of such wonderful speakers. You are all true American patriots. Although long since out of uniform, you continue to fight for the very same principles you once swore to uphold and defend.

No one knows the devastation and suffering of war more than veterans - which is why we should always be the first to prevent it.

I wasn't entirely sure what to say tonight. I thought as a leader in general I should speak to motivate. Now I know that this isn't the military and surely there are many out there who outranked me at one point or another - and yes, I'm just a Lieutenant.

And yet, I feel as though we are all citizens of this great country and what I have to say is not a matter of authority - but from one citizen to another.

We have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past three years. It seems as though nothing we've done, from vigils to protests to letters to Congress, have had any effect in persuading the powers that be. Tonight I will speak to you on my ideas for a change of strategy.

I am here tonight because I took a leap of faith. My action is not the first and it certainly will not be the last. Yet, on behalf of those who follow, I require your help - your sacrifice - and that of countless other Americans.

I may fail.

We may fail.

But nothing we have tried has worked so far. It is time for change and the change starts with all of us.

I stand before you today, not as an expert - not as one who pretends to have all the answers. I am simply an American and a servant of the American people. My humble opinions today are just that.

I realize that you may not agree with everything I have to say. However, I did not choose to be a leader for popularity. I did it to serve and make better the soldiers of this country. And I swore to carry out this charge honorably under the rule of law.

Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier (or service member). It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War - but it has been long since forgotten.

The idea is this:
that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.

Now it is not an easy task for the soldier. For he or she must be aware that they are being used for ill-gain. They must hold themselves responsible for individual action. They must remember duty to the Constitution and the people supersedes the ideologies of their leadership.

The soldier must be willing to face ostracism by their peers, worry over the survival of their families, and of course the loss of personal freedom. They must know that resisting an authoritarian government at home is equally important to fighting a foreign aggressor on the battlefield.

Finally, those wearing the uniform must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that by refusing immoral and illegal orders they will be supported by the people not with mere words but by action. The American soldier must rise above the socialization that tells them authority should always be obeyed without question. Rank should be respected but never blindly followed.

Awareness of the history of atrocities and destruction committed in the name of America - either through direct military intervention or by proxy war - is crucial. They must realize that this is a war not out of self-defense but by choice, for profit and imperialistic domination.

WMD, ties to Al Qaeda, and ties to 9/11 never existed and never will. The soldier must know that our narrowly and questionably elected officials intentionally manipulated the evidence presented to Congress, the public, and the world to make the case for war.

They must know that neither Congress nor this administration has the authority to violate the prohibition against pre-emptive war - an American law that still stands today. This same administration uses us for rampant violations of time-tested laws banning torture and degradation of prisoners of war.

Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. They must know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.

Mark Twain once remarked,
"Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country …"

 By this, each and every American soldier, marine, airman, and sailor is responsible for their choices and their actions. The freedom to choose is only one that we can deny ourselves. The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people.

Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. "I was only following orders" is never an excuse. The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government.

Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars. Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes.

The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny.

As strong as the Constitution is, it is not foolproof. It does not fully take into account the frailty of human nature. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt individuals as much as they can corrupt institutions.

The founders of the Constitution could not have imagined how money would infect our political system. Neither could they believe a standing army would be used for profit and manifest destiny. Like any common dictatorship, soldiers would be ordered to commit acts of such heinous nature as to be deemed most ungentlemanly and unbecoming that of a free country.

The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation.

Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right?

If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight?

When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military. Aside from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and its protectorate, the people.

If soldiers realized this war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they stood up and threw their weapons down - no President could ever initiate a war of choice again.

When we say, "… Against all enemies foreign and domestic," what if elected leaders became the enemy? Whose orders do we follow? The answer is the conscience that lies in each soldier, each American, and each human being.

Our duty to the Constitution is an obligation, not a choice. The military, and especially the Army, is an institution of fraternity and close-knit camaraderie. Peer pressure exists to ensure cohesiveness but it stamps out individualism and individual thought. The idea of brotherhood is difficult to pull away from if the alternative is loneliness and isolation.

If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path - they must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will be supported by Americans. To support the troops who resist, you must make your voices heard. If they see thousands supporting me, they will know.

I have heard your support, as has Suzanne Swift, and Ricky Clousing - but many others have not.

Increasingly, more soldiers are questioning what they are being asked to do. Yet, the majority lack awareness to the truth that is buried beneath the headlines. Many more see no alternative but to obey.

We must show open-minded soldiers a choice and we must give them courage to act. Three weeks ago, Sgt. Hernandez from the 172nd Stryker Brigade was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children. In an interview, his wife said he sacrificed his life so that his family could survive. I'm sure Sgt. Hernandez cherished the camaraderie of his brothers, but given a choice, I doubt he would put himself in a position to leave his family husbandless and fatherless.

Yet that's the point, you see. People like Sgt. Hernandez don't have a choice. The choices are to fight in Iraq or let your family starve. Many soldiers don't refuse this war en mass because, like all of us,, they value their families over their own lives and perhaps their conscience.

Who would willingly spend years in prison for principle and morality while denying their family sustenance?

I tell this to you because you must know that to stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the unconditional support of the people. I have seen this support with my own eyes. For me it was a leap of faith. For other soldiers, they do not have that luxury. They must know it and you must show it to them. Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and education.

This is a daunting task. It requires the sacrifice of all of us. Why must Canadians feed and house our fellow Americans who have chosen to do the right thing? We should be the ones taking care of our own.

Are we that powerless - are we that unwilling to risk something for those who can truly end this war?

How do you support the troops but not the war? By supporting those who can truly stop it; let them know that resistance to participate in an illegal war is not futile and not without a future. I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings.

If I am to be punished it should be for following the rule of law over the immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it should be for not acting sooner.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period … was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

Now, I'm not a hero. I am a leader of men who said enough is enough. Those who called for war prior to the invasion compared diplomacy with Saddam to the compromises made with Hitler.

I say, we compromise now by allowing a government that uses war as the first option instead of the last to act with impunity.

Many have said this about the World Trade Towers, "Never Again."

I agree. Never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free - be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now - the time to stand up and be counted is today.

I'll end with one more Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
"One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."

Thank you and bless you all.

 

The only thing Watada said that I would disagree with is that he claimed that he is not a hero. He is a leader, yet again, by taking this stance. And he may never know how many lives he has already touched.

Today, it is up to the anti-war movement to make sure his leadership touches as many soldiers' lives in Iraq as possible.

Watada is making his stand. He needs continued support. As he said, if more American soldiers in Iraq know that they, along with their families, will be supported if they stand up against this illegal occupation, countless more will follow, and this repulsive war will end.

-Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has reported for the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sunday Herald. He now writes regularly for Inter Press Service and Truthout. He maintains a web site at dahrjamailiraq.com.



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 11:21 AM PDT
Friday, 14 July 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Watada: Who taught him moral courage, integrity & values?

Expectations: The warrior immunized against the infection of moral blindness.

What do our adult children say when asked about who Americans are and what core values represent America's best message to the world?

Are our children opportunists with little regard for whatever America's core values truly represent because they are more motivated by some slick sales presentation that says excitement awaits when you're on the path of being all that you can be?

Are they, as has been pointed out in several venues, children out of poverty who joined up out of economic and intellectual desperation?

Are they genuine civic-minded patriots who combine their personal sense of self-development with career objectives blended with legitimate appreciation for what it means to live in the American democracy?

Or somewhere in between?

 

Voluntary military recruits - both those who've enlisted and those with commissions - bring to the military initiation process that set of ethics and morality cultivated in childhood. Although family circumstances in some cases were inadequate in helping create a solid foundation of ethics and morals, most who join come out of families where at least some degree of a value system was encouraged and demonstrated.

Ideally then, entry into military life would include a strengthening of moral and ethical traits into a blend with a warrior's code of conduct.

Soldiers are neither devoid of nor excused from ethical and moral responsibility. If - in destroying those preconceived notions considered by the military to be contrary to the values and skills necessary in a soldier - new notions, values and skills do not include a strong sense of moral responsibility then our basic training and combat training programs are harming both recruits and the nation.

Our sons and daughters are not to become amoral killing machines totally lacking in moral responsibility. This sense of moral responsibility absolutely must graduate from basic training intact in a soldier's mind and heart.

In the absence of real moral responsibility in our soldiers, not only will we see more and more tragic incidents of the shaming of one's self, one's unit, one's branch of service, one's community, and one's country, but the absence of moral responsibility will stand more fully revealed as a flaw in the civilian society as well.

The antics of civilian leadership when it deliberately ignores or downplays the horrific consequences of war, bombing campaigns and torture justified by something other than literal defense of the homeland reflects a legitimate moral blindness.

We do not send our children out to fight irresponsibly with no sense of ethics simply because the ethical and moral sense has been assigned to higher authorities.

We don't excuse our soldiers for ethical and moral lapses because authorities placed in positions of appointed power have - with self-preserving hypocrisy - labeled offenders as some few "bad apples," who deserve no further close scrutiny and need to be locked up, the key thrown away.

We should not tolerate civilian administrators pleading innocence because of the vast gap between the highest echelons of authority and the lowest front line chain of command; that front line where sergeants can be punished because a corporal suffered the same moral blindness as those self-serving civilians on Mount Olympus.

Moral blindness at an even more starkly elevated level insists that:

An invasion that became a military occupation must be continued in the name of staying on an immoral and unethical course of deliberate destruction of innocents because we were lied to by the liars who now declare that to cease the immoral aggression would be "cutting and running."

This is the lack of moral responsibility we've seen in the civilians now seated at the steering wheel who are passing judgment on the moral fiber of anyone who disagrees, thereby labeling dissent as treason.

Our soldiers absolutely must emerge from basic and combat training with moral competence intact.

I hope that stories of institutionalized programming of racial hatred, bigotry, stereotyping and name-calling are not predominantly a part of teaching warriors a moral and ethical code. If the stories are true, I declare here and now :  

They are not doing it in my name nor on behalf of my family. I repudiate these tactics of moral recklessness.

That is of course why we raise our children to become independent and self-reliant adults.

When my son or daughter join the military and enter into its initiation, I am not being unreasonable in expecting the military to blend its own sense of ethical and moral responsibility with that which we as parents have endeavored to plant in our children's hearts.

I clicked on a link in the article referred to at the end of this post and immediately found a book by Shannon French entitled The Code of the Warrior.

This from the Amazon site quoting Publisher's Weekly:

"French, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the U. S. Naval Academy, believes that the warrior needs an ethical framework not only to be an effective fighter but to remain a human being-and even to save his or her soul."


To which I want to add that as an American citizen who willingly endorses - if it happens - the decision of my own flesh and blood to join and serve in the military, I request that the military act in ways that reflect professionalism, integrity and personal class, teaching the real moral and ethical code of the warrior.

If my child has an officer's  commission and is to become a leader of soldiers, I do not expect a professional military leadership to attempt to destroy the inner sense of integrity of that fledgling officer. Nor to try to replace integrity with moral blindness.

Moral blindness can be infectious and if left untreated will pass from soldier to soldier, even from officer to officer.

Discernment is the key here and it is absolutely vital to this nation that we do not place morally blind officers in positions of command that lead to blind amoral obedience.

We do not want morally blind soldiers who cannot act competently when confrontations with ethical dilemmas arise. We want to see in our soldiers' behavior a strong support for legal authority, moral authority and ethical authority. To the degree that such authority is lacking or not modeled by the political leadership, America suffers.

This is no more amply demonstrated than by behavior at the highest levels that denigrates genuine dissent and genuine efforts to ascertain legalities, moralities and ethics involved in launching an invasion that has become an occupation of Iraq.

Hiding behind shallow "cut-and-run" slogans demonstrates aptly and without question the moral and ethical shallowness of placing politics at the forefront of national security priorities.

... of placing soldiers in confrontations demanding high ethical and moral values where none were taught or encouraged in a military too focused on fear of its civilian leadership.

Our 2004 election has been publicized as a victory for voters supporting moral values. The most prominent and whining conservative Religious leaders in this country have contributed to this fog of confusion regarding ethics and moral competency.

We have prominent voices declaring ethical nonsense like the U.S. should "blow them away in the name of the Lord,"  (J. Falwell)  

... or the disingenuous non-Christian immorality of looking the other way while a Republican administration invaded and occupied Iraq, requiring our children in the military to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis in the process.

These are ethical and moral lapses of the highest gravity - especially when it's revealed that Christian celebrities and policy lobbyists consider a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage or teaching creationism in schools to be higher godly priorities than murder wearing an American  Military uniform.

... As if God were focused on gays and evolution, looking the other way with no almighty interest in focusing a divine gaze on Iraq.


So what do we do when a soldier refuses an order based on his own developed sense of ethics, morality, loyalty and patriotism?

Again from the author of  The Code of the Warrior

"The best way to ensure that military personnel will not commit a war crime even if given (illegal) orders to do so by a superior officer, is, not to drill them on codes of conduct and provisions of international law but rather to help them internalize the significance of the history and tradition of the military and of concepts such as honor and courage in order to develop a coherent sense of what it means to be a member of the military."


What does the initiation into the military teach our children?

Discipline ... which of course takes many forms.

What does moral and ethical discipline look like in the life of an American soldier?

Whose moral and ethical values are the primary instinctive and emotional guides in a human being?

Certainly none taught by those infected with moral blindness.

I recommend the following article:

Teaching Military Ethics: Personal Development versus Moral Drill

By Mrs. E.M. Wortel
Faculty of Military Sciences
Netherlands Defense College
and
Major J.P.M. Schoenmakers
Netherlands Royal Military School

Which can be found at
The International Military Ethics Symposium.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Army brings official charges today; Lt Ehren Watada refusal illegal orders

 Three charges are being leveled at Lt. Ehren Watada today.  Most all our local to Washington newspapers and tv media have published a brief account per the news release from Fort Lewis spokesperson; Tammy Reed who indicated he would be charged today but she did not know what the charges Lt Watada would face.  All the first published stories have now been updated again to give more full account. Lt Watada will be charged with three counts; missing movement, contempt toward officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer.  His attorney, Eric Seitz, reports that by  calculations of military lawyers indicate Lt Watada could face up to eight years in prison.

 Kudos to Washington media for their extensive coverage of Lt. Watada since he first announced on June 7, 2006 his intention to refuse what he has discerned to be an illegal order to deploy to Iraq. What seems to be missing is the lack of reporting by those more big gun media, ie, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times - you know - the national/international level 'it's an important and worthy story' kind of reporting.
 

Rather than cite specific links (there are far too many), you can easily google news entering Lt. Ehren Watada to read the accounts and see the huge number of local media across cities and towns in our nation, as well as some international localized media reporting on charges being brought today.

What is not absent is a groundswell of support for Lt. Watada who is exercising a different kind of courage and is, in fact, in my opinion, exercising conduct most becoming to an Officer with regard to this war/occupation in Iraq.  This is not a military only story, friends, and while Lt. Watada is both aware of the severity of punishment and willing to accept the consequences of his decision, that courage is inherint in each and every one who questions the validity of the Iraq war/occupation.  

Now what to do with your own courage....

Act on it.

Support for Lt. Watada is not isolated to the act of supporting one Army Lieutenant, rather the symbology it represents.  What makes Lt. Watada, as an Officer, refusing an order to deploy to Iraq is that while he is not the first Officer to refuse combat deployment orders since 911 attack, he is the first Officer to make a public staement on his reasons for refusing the order.  Army officials at the Pentagon reports 10 officers have refused combat deployment orders since 911 attack.  My understanding is that the situation for other officers refusing combat deployment have been individualized situational refusals citing extreme family concerns.  Lt. Watada has cited his reasons as the illegality of the war/occupation in Iraq, therefore the need as an Officer to determine a legal from an illegal order.  

How you can best help Lt. Watada is to help ensure his act of courage and speaking out becomes part of the public dialogue.  Obviously, the Army has to do what it has to do, according to military discipline, and I am not writing a plea to rescue Lt. Watada.  I am writing a plea to not let his act of courage become irrelevant.  Thank you for listening.


see Friends of Lt Watada website

links to previous Lt. Watada accounts at Washblog:

2nd Lt Watada Press Conference in Seattle w/ Col Ann Wight

Military Families Support Lt Watada at Tacoma Press Conference

Fort Lewis Army Lt. Set To Refuse Deployment To Iraq


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 1 July 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

I'd Like Your Blessing, Dad.

My generation is one in which there are still many living veterans. Furthermore, from our generation primarily come the children who make up the current blood and guts of America's military with its duty of defending the American Constitution, Country and Citizens.

If our children - or their children - come to us when considering enlistment or a commission, asking our reaction or even our blessing for their willingness to sign the bottom line, are we ready to speak honestly with them?  

Have the things we've taught them about citizenship and patriotism come back to gratify us?

... or haunt us?

Just what have we tried to instill in them  in terms of a civic and patriotic sense? What did we teach and model for them when they were young?

... we who were part of a generation of soldiers betrayed by a government we all wanted desperately to trust?

 

The letter from college arrives.

 

"Dear Dad .......

Dad, I'm signing on and I'd like your blessing and advice.

I'm not having too many doubts about signing on Dad. Not too many questions - but I want your support and endorsement. You've never talked much about your service and I need to know what's in your mind before I leave."

Very well then ....

Dear daughter,

As you know, you do not come from a family of warriors.

Your Grandfather was drafted.  

Your uncle and I joined up in the 1960's because it was that or the draft. Our national leadership had failed us badly because of their misguided and exaggerated fear of communist enemies;

Of foes who had never proven themselves capable of toppling continents nation-by-nation,  domino-like, let alone conquering the world based on military or economic power.

As a result of those years, the extremely poor choices made by politicians we trusted and elected left us with a powerful legacy not previously seen so powerfully in this country ... acceptance of dissent as a patriotic act.

To this day, that concept has not been refuted. More so, this current government has tragically demonstrated again just why it is vital that citizens hold government accountable.

Viet Nam legitimized a permanent change in civic thinking. That's why a large segment of today's society sustained by legitimate baby-boomer wisdom remains willing to question the motives and speak out against the administration ... and with greater empowerment to resist being isolated and marginalized by pseudo-patriotic politics. Our perspective is much more legitimate than it was in the 60's and 70's. We as citizens are duty bound to take and hold the ethical and moral high ground in this country rather than trust broadcast blowhards and pretend political genuises.

The party officials, cheerleading TV networks and pundit blowhards don't have a monopoly on patriotism, daughter. Those are - every one of them - the least qualified to tell you or me what it means to be patriotic. They are the cut-and-run actors from my generation who have never served and have never justifiably spoken for the troops and veterans in today's world.

You are going to join an all-volunteer military force that has the same commission given the military services during World War II. The big difference today is that the bulk of the troops back then were drafted. Your choice is voluntary - signing a contract offered by the Pentagon.

When you sign, remember that we who are not military members make up - along with you - the citizenship that expects you to honor that contract you endorse.

Citizens of this country expect total fealty from you which means loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, and to the Flag.  Citizens of this country expect the same from our elected leadership. They all owe us that same fealty, loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution and to the Flag.

Citizens also expect of our soldiers the highest honesty, integrity and honorable behavior of which they are capable. Military behavior that is dishonest, lacks integrity and dishonors troops, citizens and country is a betrayal of all that America has traditionally stood for.

The same is absolutely true and equally vital of our elected and appointed leaders.

Citizens do not expect that our fully trained and capable military members are so brainwashed to fight and kill that they have transitioned to a place of shame. While desiring that our military children develop instinctive and effective military and combat skills, we do not expect our children to be turned into mindless killing machines devoid of conscience or the ability to make a moral choice.

Arguments insisting that combat training must teach instinctive hate, bigotry, racial profiling and cultural inferiority in order to create armies and soldiers capable of efficient killing and destruction of enemies are not legitimate reasons for why we fight.

Nor do they hold out a possibly for what we hope the end result of a national military objective will look like.

Citizens want and expect that our troops are warriors of honor who instinctively act and react with exceptional valor;

...Warriors who reflect national ethics, a positive national morality, compassion and respect.

If those things are lacking in the leadership, a way to intervene before a corrupt leadership can poison the military is vital.

The nation cannot abide armies of failed or corrupted warriors.

If those values are lacking in the country, it is the citizens who have failed the military.

Military service is and should always be thought of as an honorable profession where men and women serve with honor;  

... are treated with honor by a grateful nation.

If you are joining the military, I expect you to have a career of honor.

I fear for you but will keep those fears managed in my own heart.

It is your life, not mine, and I do not pretend to dictate your choices.

Nor is it a life that belongs specifically to a General, a Secretary of Defense, a President or a Political Party.

You are not to be a tool of helping a party focus national priorities in such a way as to win elections.

There is no military  code of silence or submissive loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief that requires that you do not seriously consider the legality and morality of orders given you regardless of their source.

I of course hope that your own sense of civic and moral integrity is honed sufficiently strong as to allow you to perceive almost instantaneously whether or not an order is illegal.

But if you need time and have time, then I expect you to take that time and make up your own mind. Whatever decision you make - if informed by your own study, searching and wisdom - is all anyone can ask of you.

Blind obedience in a combat moment is not the same as blind obedience when you are not in a combat moment. Rather in a moment of moral or ethical questioning when a different kind of instinct takes over, if you have a strong sense of ethics and honor, you will not be helplessly tempted to shame yourself, your unit, or your country.

You have a right to expect and function under the integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military.

You have a right to expect and demand the Commander In Chief's honesty, honor, skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

I in turn have a right to expect that you pay attention - for me, for your family and for your country - to whether or not your Commander in Chief is being honest, honorable and legal.

The Commander-in-chief is hardly going to order me to do something illegal or immoral. If he gives an illegal or immoral order there's a greater risk he will give it to you whom he might see as bound to obey blindly and without question.

So your father, your family and your country are at the mercy of your ability to discern and act on that discernment.

You are then left at the mercy of your father's, your family's and your country's ability to discern the acts of our President, to hold him accountable and take action - if necessary - to make sure he is accountable.

You must trust me to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies.

In closing, my adult child, I express my pride in you and your willingness to act on your desires only after you've given them serious thought and consideration.

I accept and endorse your decision as I trust it is your own.

You do your part and serve.

I'll do my part and cover your back.

Anyone inside or outside this government who wants to criticize, harm or otherwise betray you will have to deal directly with me.

I promise.

Love,

Dad

Cross posted to D Kos


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

In a second Lt Watada press conference; supporter Col Ann Wright says illegal war and war crimes

 

{Update - Tomorrow = Natl Day of Action to Stand Up with Lt. Ehren Watada - Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Ft. Lewis, WA - 7am - Morning bannering on the Exit 119 (DuPont Rd.) bridge over Interstate 5.
Ft. Lewis, WA - 4pm - Bannering and support rally on the Exit 119 (DuPont) bridge over Interstate 5.
Tacoma, WA - 7am - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Tacoma, WA - 4pm - Bannering: (1) McKinley Way overpass above I-5; and (2) Pedestrian Bridge over Route 16 near Narrows Bridge.
Seattle, WA - 5pm - Vigil and sign holding: (1) Westlake Park, 4th and Pine Streets; and (2) Greenlake, East Green Lake Way N and N 64th St.

[Update - June 22, 2006. Lt. Watada refused Iraq deployment this morning; Under restriction and gag-order. More at website Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada ]

In a second press conference Lt Ehren Watada held in Seattle, June 19, 2006, (ret) Army Colonel and Diplomat, Ann Wright, speaks in support of Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq as his right to disobey illegal orders.  His parents, Robert Watada and Carolyn Ho, came from Hawaii to be with their son in Seattle and spoke at his press conference.  I had the opportunity to have a personal phone call exchange with his mother, Carolyn Ho, as she was on her way from Seatac airport to the University Lutheran Church in Seattle, for the 6:15 PM press conference.

  Mother to mother, military family to military family we talked, me with two returning Iraq veterans in our family who will be redeployed; she with a son who is an Officer in U.S. Army making the monumental decision as an Officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I valued our exchange and she said she valued what I had to share with her. She seemed very moved when I said to her that her son, as an Officer, was doing what I would expect an Officer to do and if he were an Officer for the two Sgts in our family, I would want him to deliberate on the orders being given for our two to carry out.

  While I wasn't able to make the 3 hour trip up to Seattle on Monday evening, I was able to listen to the video of the press conference that KING 5 has posted to their online website (you have to listen first to a 20 second commercial then the video coverage begins).  It helped me feel very much  like I was there.  Gratitude to KING 5 for posting the entirety of the press conference making it available for all to hear firsthand. There is strength in the words of Col Ann Wright, and rather than report on her words, I have transcribed her speech and am placing it here.

NOTE: June 27 will be a national day of action in support of Lt. Watada and his refusal to deploy.  Supporters have planned events across the country, including events at Ft Lewis, WA; Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, OH; Harrisburg, PA; San Francisco, CA; and Oklahoma City, OK.

Colonel Ann Wright (Ret.) served 29 years in the Army/Army Reserve and 16 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.  She resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service  
on March 19, 2003 in protest over the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq without UN Security Council authorization, and over the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States.

text of her speech June 19, 2006, Seattle at press conference in support of Lt. Ehren Watada.

Good Afternoon.  It is with heavy heart that I am here.  Heavy heart that the U.S. Military may be taking action against a noble and principled Officer of the U.S. Military who is saying to U.S. Military and U.S. goverment that the war in Iraq is an illegal war and he refuses to take orders to go to an illegal war.

This is a right that a military officer has to disobey illegal orders and to be ordered to an illegal war is something people can stand up against.  And as you can see, not many people do.  We have one officer that's done it; we have 24 in Canda who have done it; 10 in jail or imprisoned who have said no to these illegal orders.  Ehren will be the first Officer that will say no.

By the Nuremburg Principle codified after World War ll, when United States of America executed Japanese and German military officers and civilians for going along with what the International Communities termed 'illegal wars'.  That's when it came to the front, that we as civilains and military have the obligation and responsibility to say no to a government that takes us into an illegal war - a war of aggression.  And by the Nuremburg Principles, a war of agrression is called a war crime.  The Bush administration is committing war crimes.  The country of Iraq did nothing to the United States of America.  The Bush administration invaded and occupied a country that did nothing to the United States of America.

By the three principles of legal wars;

 - If the United Nations Security Counscil will vote that the International community has to take military action against a threat to the International community.  The Bush administration was unable to get U.N. Security Council to vote for military operations on Iraq.  

 - If imminent danger to your country ... the weapons of mass destruction were not imminent danger.  In fact, there was an ongong U.N. inspection to determine if there were WMD. But the Bush administration threw away that and said we're going in anyway.

 - The third is to prevent humanitarian disaster such as genocide; a genocide taking place.  While the Saddam Hussein regime had committed atrocities on it's people, it was not doing so at that time.   In fact, the atrocities that were being committed on the people of Iraq were being committed by the International community by the International sanctions that had been placed on the country.

  So, in my opinion, and, in fact, and I resigned my career as a diplomat, because I firmly believe the U.S; the Bush administration has taken the country into a war crime and an illegal war of agrression.  I firmly support Lt. Watada's decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.  I think he is on firm, solid, legal ground that he is disobeying an illegal order.

  We support him - others support him too - not just myself.  A colleague in the Diplomatic Corps of the United Kingdom back in March 2003, same month I resigned, she resigned.  She was the Deputy Legal Counsel of the equivalent of the British State Department or the Foreign And Commonwealth Office.  Her name is Elizabeth Wilmshurst.  In her letter of resignation she specifically states the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom would be a war crime as a war of aggression.  The British government also threw away the legal opinions of it's lawyers and went ahead, just as the Bush administration went ahead to this illegal war.  

  I think we all have a responsibility as citizens to support those in our government, particularly our military who stand up.  It is not easy to stand up.  Having been in the military 29 years, I know the pressures that Lt. Watada is under.  It is very difficult thing to go against the organiztion.  When I resigned from the State Department, that was very difficult.  I had spent 16 years there.  It is hard to leave your colleagues and I know Lt. Watada is having a difficult time leaving his colleagues, the people he trained with..

  But there are higher principles at stake.  There are principles that will save one's conscience; I mean it is an act of conscience that he is doing but it will save his soul ... for going to war, to an illegal war where you will be committing illegal acts, where you will, in the name of the United States of America, be committing murder. These are things that people have to evaluate, what they want to live with the rest of their lives.   And Lt. Watada has said I will not have on my conscience the murder of innocent men, women and children.  I will not participate in an illegal war of agrression, a war crime.

  I hope all people of the United States will join us on June 27 when we do call for a National Day of Action to stand up for Lt. Watada.  (Here she names the organizations that endorse a National Day of Action, both national organizations and Washington state organizations and identified cities that are participating.)   We hope that hundreds and hundreds of cities all throughout America, cities and towns will join with us in a day of protest against this illegal war and a day of conscience where people, citizens and military stand up to say no more to these wars.

      Thank you.

 On a personal note, I have met and spent time with Col. Ann Wright, at Crawford, Texas, last August, and in Washington DC last September.  I vividly recall a press meeting in DC we were invited to attend, which included General Wesley Clark.  I was moved that General Clark asked for the U.S. flag to be brought into the room and the veterans from Veterans for Peace ceremoniously bringing the flag into the room and placing it in front.  I remarked to Ann that I was moved by the ritual, and it still stirs in me what feels like a strong sense of patriotic ownership in honoring what our flag means to me.  I have heard Ann speak before, and her speech in conjunction with Lt. Ehren Watada's action and decision brings more power to her own action and words and to his.

Coverage of this second press conference is carried in Seattle PI, the Seattle Times, and video coverage at KING 5 website .


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 10 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Update; Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war

link Thank you Lt Ehren for resisting an illegal war website

An expected reaction by U.S. Army to Lt. Watada's public statement of his intent to refuse to deploy with his unit to Iraq.  

The time to act in support of Lt Watada is now, as Stryker brigade our of Fort Lewis is scheduled to deploy to Iraq before the end of June 2006.  This is not a time to languish, rather a time to give direct support to Lt Watada's act of courage as an Officer of the U.S. Army.  

Lt Watada has said he expects and accepts there will be consequences to his public statement of illegal war / illegal orders and the Army is correct to act.  What you can do right now will unlikely influence what Lt Watada will have to face, and he expects fully to face charges and resulting punishments.  

But, you most assuredly can influence furthering authentic dialogue about what compels Lt Watada to take this action.  Please help get Lt Watada's story widely distributed, sign the petition at his support website, and contact the influential people you know to alert them to unfolding developments.   Washington can and should do everything it can to further the courageous actions of Lt. Watada.  Please don't leave it to the usual peace and activist groups.  This is a real opportunity, imo, that has potential to be more effective in engaging people to act on their own consciences much like Lt. Watada is doing.

Please don't let his act of an Officer's courage be his alone.  Thank you.

more below the fold

 

link Thank you Lt Ehren for resisting an illegal war website

Military attempts to stop Lt. Watada from speaking against illegal war       

PRESS ADVISORY (June 9, 2006) - On Thursday, June 8, 2006 U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada's commanding officer moved to prosecute Lt. Watada for protected speech. An official investigation into his public speech in opposition to the illegal war in Iraq is underway. Lt. Watada was read his rights and declined to make a statement without a lawyer present.

In response, Lt. Watada confirmed, "I have a legal and ethical obligation to speak out against, and refuse to fight, this patently illegal war in Iraq. This has not changed."

Eric Seitz, lead attorney for Lt. Watada's legal team, declared "It is obvious that the military is simply trying to keep him from speaking out in opposition to the unlawful war."

On Wednesday, June 7th U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first U.S. commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. Standing before the national media at a Tacoma, Washington press conference, Lt. Watada outlined his duty to refuse the illegal order to deploy in support of an illegal war. A showdown with military is imminent as Lt. Watada's Stryker brigade is scheduled to deploy from Fort Lewis, Washington for Iraq within days.

Steve Morse, director of the GI Rights Hotline, a non-governmental legal resource center for members of the military, explains "When soldiers join the military they swear to uphold our Constitution, they do not give up their basic right to freedom of speech." According Mr. Morse, "Members of the military clearly 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. This is outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1325.6".

It is expected that the military is moving to stage a Commanding Officer's Non-Judicial Punishment hearing (Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) in order to impose even further restrictions on Lt. Watada. The military will likely focus their investigation on vague UCMJ articles that bar "conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman" (Article 133) and "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President (or any senior members of government)" (Article 88).

# # # END # # #

Note: We are aware that the Fort Lewis military public affairs office may have not yet been informed of this new development.



Links;

  Support website for Lt. Ehren Watada; follow updates there (and you can add your name to the petition there)
Thank you Lt Ehren Watada

  Hear Lt Ehren Watada speak for himself.  Video; Lt Watada answers media questions; June 7, 2006, Tacoma, 6 PM.  
media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions

  Daily Kos Lt Watada stories; see Daniel Kirkdorffer's DK diary
U.S. Soldier Publicly Protests Deployment

 and Lietta Ruger's DK diary Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference text

  see Daniel's blog here at the Portal; he is blogging Lt Watada's story; On The Road To 2008

  and see the stories on Lt Watada here at Washblog; Fort Lewis Army Lt. Set To Refuse Deployment To Iraq

also Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference

Please add some part of the story or link referrals to your own blog, and please network Lt Watada's story widely. Whether your conscience supports his decision or it doesn't, his actions nonetheless depict courage and at the very least are deserving and befitting of authentic dialogue among the 'netroots', blogging community, media community, political community, military community, and among citizens of this country who have civilian responsibilities to our troops at a time when our nation is at war.  

Thank you -

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Friday, 9 June 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Military Families support Lt Watada at Tacoma press conference

 


[Update] The Nation has comprehensive and substanative article, June 12, 2006, addressing Lt Watada's decision, position and legalities; Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War [end update]

Reporting on press conference of Lt Ehren Watada, Tacoma, WA, June 7, 2006.  Yes, that is me in the photo, to the right of Lt Watada when he was first introduced at the 6 PM media conference.  I'm in the white Military Families Speak Out - (WA state chapter) t-shirt.  Supporters give him welcome applause.

I was there at the noon press conference, Lt Watada was prohibited by his Fort Lewis chain of command from attending the scheduled noon press conference. In his absence his statement was given  in the prepared video taped DVD.  Announcement made that Lt Watada would be available at 6 PM to answer questions if media/press wanted to return at that time.  Media/press did return, and I was there for both the noon and the 6PM press conferences.  

My report and perceptions with links to actual video of Lt Watada answering questions from the media which you can hear for yourself and form your own perceptual opinions.  He is very poised and even in expressing his thoughts and I was very impressed with this young 28 yr old Officer.  

Noon press conference, June 7, 2006.  When I arrived there was already considerable media with the satellite vans parked around the building, along with cameras, camera people and microphones. I was pleased as it signalled to me that media viewed this as an important story.  Inside the lights, cameras and mics were set up and the plasma tv was in place.  

Supporters were outside and inside, and there were four of us from Military Families Speak Out in our t-shirts to show visible support of military families for Lt Watada decision to make public his intention to refuse deployment orders to Iraq. We took our place alongside the veterans of Veterans for Peace who were there to show support.

left to right; Military Families Speak Out Jenny Keesey - Elma; Judy Linehan - Olympia; Lietta Ruger - Bay Center.  Also not pictured Stacy Bannerman - Kent.  

It was announced Lt Watada would not be able to attend so we knew the prepared DVD statement would be used.  There were to be 4 presenters prior to introducing Lt Watada.  We went ahead with the presenters anyway followed by the DVD of Lt Watada's prepared statement.  

Presenters;  
-- The Rev. Jim Davis, a United Methodist minister and chaplain of the University of Puget Sound.

-- Majorie Cohn, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the Natioinal Lawyers Guild

-- Joe Colgan, WA veteran and father of Lt Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. See dvd Gunner Palace in which Lt Benjamin's unit was being filmed when Lt Benjamin Colgan was killed.

-- Judy Linehan, Military Families Speak Out, mother of son, returning Iraq veteran who had deployed to Iraq with Stryker Brigade. (We elected Judy to speak for all four of us and it was emotional for her since her own son has connection to Fort Lewis and Stryker brigade)

-- Lt Ehren Watada's prepared DVD statement.

links;

  video of noon press conference
Northwest Cable News

   video of Lt Ehren Watada's prepared DVD statement
KIRO 7 tv

   Announcement was then made that Lt Watada would be available at 6PM to take questions from the media if media wanted to return.  I decided to return for the 6 PM conference.  Interestingly, Jenny and I had arranged to meet and drive one car (save gas $$) and she had previous committments so could not stay in Tacoma till 6PM.  Same for Judy and Stacy.  Jenny drove us back to our neck of the woods out here in Grays Harbor and Pacific County, and I got back into my own vehicle and immediately drove back to Tacoma.  These are about 2 hour drives from where we live in these outlying counties. So not a few hours spent in driving on Wednesday.  

   I arrived back in Tacoma at 6PM straight up, and bustled through the cameras and mics to get up front with the supporters. Veterans for Peace was already there, and made room for me with them and that is how I wound up right next to the podium.

  When Lt Watada was introduced, the warm and welcome applause was heart-warming and that is the only photo I've seen that has me smiling.  There are several other photos of Lt Watada and I show up in the photos since I was standing right next to him, but I'm not smiling in any of the other photos.  Well, it was a somber occasion.

  As I listened to the young Lt Watada field the hardball and softball questions from the media, I was much impressed with his poise.  He behaved with the kind of humility, dignity and respect I would expect from an Officer.  Obviously he has had time to reflect, prepare for this moment since he has been contemplating his decision since Jan 06, and it is evident a lot of thought went into his decision, his prepared statement and he answered the media questions put to him from his own convictions.  

  Rather than report and repeat the media accounts you likely have already read, refer to the video link for the 6 PM media conference and hear him for yourself in entirety.  He answered questions for 1/2 hour or longer and it is all in the video link.  He answered a question from a little boy, not more than say 7 yrs old who asked the Lt 'why do you think this war is bad'.  Lt Watada answered him patiently and did not talk down to him.  I was impressed.
Link video
6 PM media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions KING 5

  It was Lt Watada's 28th birthday the same day of the press conference, June 7, and some of you may know how I feel about the importance of young people participating actively in this process of democracy and our nation's future.  I was personally moved as I stood there thinking 'he's so young, and he's having the courage to do this' -- it was moving.

  Lt Watada had two lawyers standing behind him, and when they thought enough media questions had been asked and answered, they wrapped it up and announced enough questions.  They then started to escort Lt Watada out of the room, and I said to one of the lawyers 'wait, I very much want to shake his hand'.  The attorney smiled and was willing, but by then Lt Watada was already out the door.  The attorney shrugged, smiled and moved on.
I really wanted Lt Watada to know we are a military family with returning Iraq veterans and I was there to support him.  

  Ahh, but wait, there on the podium was Lt Watada's cell phone he had set down and I just knew he would need his cell phone.  So I grabbed it, and made my way to the door and to the back room where they had taken him for debriefing.  I explained to the people monitoring in the hallway that I needed to give him his phone.  They let me pass, and of course, my t-shirt rather is recognizeable, so I guess I was considered safe.

  I went into the room, where Lt Watada and the two attorneys were in conversation.  I thanked Ehren, shook his hand, explained I was a military family.  He asked if we had -- well he didn't have to finish the question -- I knew.  Yes, I told him - 2 returning Iraq veterans in our family.  I gave him his phone and shook his hand agan and said 'thank you Sir, for what you are doing'.  Then I left the room.

  It was over, and many of us milled about for a short while outside.  There were some either impromptu or planned private interviews by media with Lt Watada afterwards so we did not get to see him again that evening.  

  That wraps up my account.  Questions, please ask, as I may have overlooked writing some detail.  Please do view the video of Lt Watada's 6 PM media conference and listen to him answer media questions, as I think it will give you a more personal perspective of him.
6 PM media conference, Lt Ehren Watada answers media questions KING 5

My understanding is that Lt Watada will be presenting over the weekend, and at this time the best information I have so far is;

On Sunday, June 11 at 1 p.m. at the Traditions Fair Trade, corner of 5th and Water, Olympia, WA, Lieutenant Ehren Watada will speak on his reasons for Refusing to obey the order to deploy to Iraq
[edited to add link and also posted at Daily Kos]


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech