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July 23, 2006

Lt. Watada's Story Hits the NYTimes

The New York Times has a pretty good article up on Lieutenant Watada's decision to refuse deployment from Ft. Lewis to Iraq last month.   I was struck by Lt. Watada's thinking and about how he came to his decision.  He did his homework.  According to the article:

Lieutenant Watada said he began his self-tutorial about the Iraq war with James Bamford’s book “A Pretext for War,” which argues that the war in Iraq was driven by a small group of neoconservative civilians in the Pentagon and their allies in policy institutes. The book suggests that intelligence was twisted to justify the toppling of Saddam Hussein, with the goal of fundamentally changing the Middle East to the benefit of Israel.

Next was “Chain of Command,” by Seymour M. Hersh, about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. After that, Lieutenant Watada moved on to other publications on war-related themes, including selections on the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the British chief of intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Americans saw war in Iraq as “inevitable” and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Lieutenant Watada said he also talked to soldiers returning to Fort Lewis from Iraq, including a staff sergeant who told him that he and his men had probably committed war crimes.

“When I learned the awful truth that we had been deceived -- I was shocked and disgusted,” he wrote in the letter to his brigade commander.

Lt. Watada tried to work it out with his superiors:

The Army offered him a staff job in Iraq that would have kept him out of combat; but combat was not the point, he said.

Lieutenant Watada said he had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, which he regarded as an unambiguous war linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. The request was denied.

So where is Watada's allegiance if not to obedience to his superiors' commands?  This is the most refreshing statement in the entire article.  Watada said in a letter to his Colonel that "he owed his allegiance to a “higher power” — the Constitution — based on the values the Army had taught him: “loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”

No wonder the military is going to court martial him.  He is doing what no one in his line of command up through the President is doing: paying attention to the facts of the situation and basing his decision on what should be the bedrock of all our decisions:  the Constitution.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 23, 2006 at 08:46 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Critics of Watada will say he cannot refuse the order to deploy.

I'd ask them then, what order can he refuse?

Can he refuse the order to kill all military-age males?

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003146000_iraqabuse23.html

Posted by: Daniel K | Jul 23, 2006 4:15:34 PM

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