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By Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith, The Nation
A military judge in Fort Lewis, Washington, has declared a mistrial in the
court-martial of Lieut. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer
prosecuted for refusing to go to Iraq. A new trial is believed to be
unlikely before summer, if at all. The mistrial represents a significant
By Bill Simpich, www.truthout.org
First Lt. Ehren Watada knew exactly what his case was about - and that scared the judge.
There was absolutely no reason to stop the Watada trial.
The judge's claim that Lt. Watada did not fully understand a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges is completely untrue (see Melanthia Mitchell, AP, 2/8/07).
The military seized on that claim and complimented the judge for "protecting the rights of the accused" in granting the mistrial.
By Marjorie Cohn
When the Army judge declared a mistrial over defense objection in 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial yesterday, he probably didn't realize jeopardy attached. That means that under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution, the government cannot retry Lt. Watada on the same charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. He claimed those orders were unlawful because the war is illegal and he would be an accomplice to war crimes if he followed them.
By Mike Barber, Seattle Post-Inteligencer
Double-jeopardy prohibition might thwart retrial.
Fort Lewis - The Army court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, which ended in a mistrial Wednesday, may have stranger turns ahead: Prohibitions against double jeopardy may keep prosecutors from having a second trial, his lawyer and another legal expert say.
By Scott Galindez and Geoffrey Millard, www.truthout.org
Fort Lewis, Washington - The court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada, a commissioned US Army officer who refused deployment to Iraq on the basis that he believed the war was illegal, has ended in a mistrial, a military court judge ruled Wednesday.
In a stunning defeat for military prosecutors, Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge presiding over Watada's court-martial, said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial because military prosecutors and Watada's defense attorney could not reach an agreement regarding the characterization of a stipulation agreement Watada signed before the start of his court-martial. The government characterizes the stipulation agreement as an admission of guilt by Watada for "missing movement" and making statements against the Iraq war that resulted in charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 7) - "Justice prevailed today as Lt. Watada's court martial was declared a mistrial," said Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).
"The court improperly denied Lt. Watada's right to a defense by blocking him from explaining why he believes the war in Iraq is illegal," Kucinich said. "Procedural decisions by the court have effectively denied Lt. Watada the right to engage in a protected activity -- freedom of speech.
By David Swanson
Is the Army incompetent or fed-up with Bush? If you said both, you win the grand prize. And Lt. Ehren Watada may just have won his freedom. Barbara Cummings just phoned me from outside the court to say they'd ended in a mistrial and scheduled a new trial for March 19th at 4 p.m. The mistrial is the result, she was told, of the Army closing its case yesterday and then trying to introduce something new today. There's a prevalent rumor, she said, that the Army will not go through with the new trial. But a rumor is only a rumor, and it's possible the Army fully intends to press its case and try to do a better job of it.
This fits with reports of how well the trial has been going for Watada, but the question remains: did the Army cause a mistrial on purpose? The reports are that the prosecutors requested a mistrial. So, the question is really: why?
In any event, Watada has already set an example for others, and it seems reasonable to hope that this result will help boost the number of men and women who find the nerve to follow his example.
The AP and Reuters stories below give a slightly different account of the mistrial from Barbara's. The News Tribune article below sheds some light. It appears Watada's case has been strengthened and the Army's key evidence thrown out. That would appear to give some plausibility to the rumor that the Army will drop the case.
Barbara Cummings just called from outside the Watada court martial to say that a woman who was inside came out and said a mistrial is possible. Apparently the Army rested its case yesterday and then continued its case this morning, which - I guess - is not allowed. Barbara also reported on some speculation that the Army might be so fed up with Bush that it's intentionally aiming for a mistrial.
By Mary Francis
I am at Ft. Lewis at the Lt. Watada trial. I was in the courtroom today and WE KICKED ASS!!! Here's a little update. Feel free to share.
The prosecutors are 2 young (35?) guys up against Lt. Watata's atty, Eric Seitz who has 40 years of experience in military law defending war resisters and COs ... Seitz is OUTSTANDING!!!!!
The prosecution called 3 witnesses and then after cross and recross,
By Bill Simpich and Scott Galindez, t r u t h o u t
Ft. Lewis, Washington - On the second day of the court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada, it seemed at times that the prosecution witnesses were really defense witnesses.
The day began with opening statements. The prosecution laid out the following charges:
Charge I: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 87
By Bill Rau for www.consumersforpeace.org
Washington, D.C., February 5, 2007
The arrests started just five minutes after people entered Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) office in the Senate Office Building. The first of a planned three-month series of occupations of U.S. legislators’ offices was designed to demand specific action to quickly end the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq.
IRAQ VETERAN DENNIS KYNE: "AIN'T GOING' BACK AGAIN"
IRAQ WAR VETERAN DARRELL ANDERSON: "DIE FOR YOUR WAR -- TELL ME"
LT. EHREN WATADA RALLY, VET AND FOLKSINGER FROM PORTLAND
By Barbara Cummings
They lined the freeway ramps and covered the bridge in front of Ft. Lewis as well as all the surrounding sidewalks. The organizers did a fabulous job. Everything went off exactly as planned. Buses arrived and were greeted as they off loaded their passengers. There was food and plenty of portas.
I have never seen anywhere else the opposing group in the same space. I feared someone would fall off the bridge as they kept trying to hoist their signs higher and further out than ours.
We also noted some of the signs they had were carried by children and were just gross. One had what appeared to be a fat Black man in a cell waiting for Ehern with a jar of Vaseline. I talked to the kid and he told me all about his CHURCH and his family. I really wanted to find out what church advocated sticking something in someone's anus and approved of physical harm. He refused to tell me where his church was. I also asked him if his mom would be proud of that sign and he said, yep, you probably already guesed, SHE MADE IT!
Good day in court. The defense was brilliant and if the judge has not already made up his mind, should pull off a miracle. We should have a big crowd again as Ehren is due to testify today.
By Norman Solomon, www.truthout.org
The people running the Iraq War are eager to make an example of Ehren Watada. They've convened a kangaroo court-martial. But the man on trial is setting a profound example of conscience - helping to undermine the war that the Pentagon's top officials are so eager to protect.
"The judge in the case against the first US officer court-martialed for refusing to ship out for Iraq barred several experts in international and constitutional law from testifying Monday about the legality of the war," the Associated Press reported.
I was arrested yesterday, Monday February 5th, along with 10 others in the first of many action of a sustained campaign to end the Iraq War called "The Occupation Project"
Senator McCain was targeted yesterday because he is a staunch supporter of the ongoing occupation of Iraq. The message brought to McCain's Capitol Hill office by Voices For Creative Non-Violence, CodePINK, Veterans For Peace and toher groups was "Stop Funding the War!" Two time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly was among those arrested. The were also coordinated actions at McCain's offices in his homestate of Arizona, as well as other demonstrations nationwide including sit-ins at Barrak Obama's and Dick Durbin's offices in Chicago which resulted in 8 additional arrests.
By Paul Rockwell, AlterNet
This piece originally appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
It is a sad day in American jurisprudence when a soldier of conscience is court-martialed -- not for lying, but for telling the truth; not for breaking a covenant with the military, but for upholding the rule of law in wartime.
The court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada is set for today in Fort Lewis, Wash. The 28-year-old soldier from Hawaii is the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. He is charged with "missing movement" and "conduct unbecoming an officer" including the "use of contemptuous words for the President."
By Mike Ferner
From Alaska to Washington, D.C. yesterday, peace activists escalated their tactics and occupied Congressional offices, demanding elected officials vote against George Bush’s request of $93,000,000,000 to extend the war.
The Occupation Project, organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV), kicked off at noon, Eastern Time when four people were arrested holding a funeral service in the Chicago office of Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and four more people were arrested in the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), reading names of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers.
Lawyer: War Objector Will Take Stand
By MELANTHIA MITCHELL, Associated Press
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — An Army lieutenant who said he refused to deploy to Iraq because he believes the war is illegal will take the stand in his own defense, his lawyer said.
1st Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, of Honolulu, is charged with refusing to ship out with his unit and conduct unbecoming an officer for accusing the Army of war crimes and denouncing the administration for conducting an "illegal war" founded on "lies."
By Mike Archbold, McClatchy Newspapers
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Sean Penn hunched alone over his coffee Monday in a Starbucks shop, a stone's throw from the DuPont overpass where supporters of Lt. Ehren Watada held their signs aloft and a much smaller number of foes counter-protested.
The actor had been out there with the Iraq war protesters in the chilly fog, which dampened the air but not their spirits.
Indiana Resident Arrested at Senate Office Building
Hoosier Priest held in connection with political protest
Father Jerome (Jerry) Zawada, of Cedar Lake, IN, was arrested today in a non-violent civil disobedience action at the office of Senator John McCain in Washington D.C.. Father Zawada, 70, a Franciscan Priest was one of ten activists arrested on orders from the Arizona Senator's office today.
Barbara Cummings just called and told me that 3,000 supporters of Ehren Watada are lining the sides of a freeway outside his court martial. I could hear the trucks blowing their horns in support. Barbara said there were about 20 pro-death protesters there displaying nooses and other attractive props.
Declaring Victory Press Conference - Feb 1, 2006 @ National Press Club
Link to full grouping of videos from Sarah Olson's Defend The Press
3 minute overview of event at National Press Club
3 minute video of Watada story and what happened to Sarah Olson
Today, Feb. 5th, is the kickoff day for THE OCCUPATION PROJECT, a new effort initiated by UFPJ member organization, Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The plan is to unfold a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The campaign begins with occupations at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to pledge to vote against additional war funding.
By Tomas Alex Tizon, Los Angeles Times
Lieutenant tried to resign, requested duty in Afghanistan.
Olympia, Washington - The soldier stands in his living room eyeing all the cool soldier stuff he never got to use in a real war. Such as the helmet with not a single ding and the sleek body armor with not a scuff. The gear piles high on the carpet.
First Lt. Ehren Watada is giving it all back and, out of courtesy, packing it up. The Army had treated him with utmost respect until the moment it decided to court-martial him. It was nothing personal. The Army does what it has to do.
By Lori Perdue
I had the distinct pleasure last night of being witness to a victory far more significant than the Indianapolis Colts winning the Superbowl. That’s really saying something, folks, because I am from Indiana. If I had missed that game I very likely would have not been allowed to return to my quiet home between hay fields.
Busboys and Poets set the stage for this experience with the game on a big screen TV in the Langston Room. We arrived late, with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter and the Colts were up, but barely, after a shaky start.
As Americans, we share common values – values of honesty, compassion, and, whenever possible, non-violence. We also recognize the moral responsibility we have to raise our voices in support of those values when they are under assault.
There is no morality without the willingness to act.
That’s why we are here today.