POSTED: 20 FEBRUARY 2007 - 8:30pm HST

by Carol Bain on 20 February 2007 is currenty featuring a video of a speech given by LT Ehren Watada at the University United Methodist Church in Seattle on 3 February 2007.

The subject of the talk was "Citizen Responsibility" and was given just a few days before Lt. Watada was brought to court martial and it was determined that the prosecution had created mistrail. The video is forty minutes long.

The specific url is:



POSTED: 8 FEBRUARY 2007 - 7:30am HST

Mistrial could be end of Watada case

Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, sheds a tear. In background Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel

by Mike Barber on 8 February 2007 in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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.

The opposition of Watada and his defense team to the mistrial, declared by the military judge and eventually endorsed by prosecutors after their case fell apart, opens the door for a double-jeopardy defense, said John Junker, a University of Washington law professor.

Double jeopardy, which forbids a person from being tried twice for the same crime, does not apply only after a verdict is rendered, but can apply after a jury is empaneled and witnesses have been called.

"The notion is that you can't just stop in the middle and say, 'I don't like the way it's going' and start over," Junker said. "If the defendant objected, it does raise the possibility" of double jeopardy, Junker said. "That would happen in a civilian court, and I presume in a military court. That doctrine comes from the Constitution."

Watada's case has drawn national attention and galvanized the anti-war movement.
He is the first U.S. military officer publicly to refuse deployment to Iraq by stating the war is illegal and that he feels duty-bound to refuse unlawful orders.

Watada's trial was in its last day, and he was preparing to take the stand when the military judge, Lt. Col. John Head, raised the issue that led to the mistrial. That issue was a stipulation that Watada had signed and would be given to the jury as part of its instructions.

Head set a tentative retrial date in mid-March, though that date could be moved back.Prosecutors had not decided last night whether they will retry Watada. Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, intends to fight to block the prosecutors from trying the lieutenant a second time.

Watada's supporters -- among the lucky few who gained access to the small military courtroom -- were excited at the dramatic turn of events. "I continue to remain very hopeful my son will be exonerated," said Carolyn Ho, Watada's mother.

Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and former diplomat who quit her post disputing the invasion of Iraq, said, "The Army's case is a mess, and it reflects the mess the (Bush) administration is in also in Iraq."

Army officials said they were not disappointed in the outcome as Head's decision demonstrated the fairness of the military justice system and that the judge was looking out for Watada's interests.

Reading a prepared statement, Fort Lewis spokesman Joe Piek said: "The military judge ensures fairness in the proceedings, especially to the accused. In this case, the judge was concerned that the stipulation amounted to a confession by Lt. Watada to an offense to which he intended to plead not guilty."

Seitz, however, opposed the mistrial, saying Head "abused his discretion."
At the same time, said Seitz, who has been trying military cases since the Vietnam War, he had never seen a turn like this.

Seitz said Watada, who was ready to take the stand but never did, "was not happy that he does not get to get this over with," but also knows that the developments could lead to the end of the case against him.

The dramatic turn of events hinged on a stipulation of fact that Watada signed in a plea agreement more than a week ago. Under the plea deal, prosecutors dropped two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer against Watada. He was being tried this week on two other charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of missing movement when his Stryker Brigade deployed to Iraq in June.

Head questioned Watada while the jury was out of the courtroom, which Seitz objected to but allowed, and legal experts such as Junker said they would consider that questioning "very unusual" in a civilian trial.

Head concluded that he could not accept Watada's statement. Although Watada had admitted to failing to deploy with his unit, it was not the same as admitting guilt, which prosecutors considered it to be, Head said.

"What did you understand that (the stipulation-of-fact) to mean? What does that mean to you?" the judge asked Watada after sparring with Seitz over his intention to question the lieutenant.

Of his refusal to get on the plane, Watada said: "To me it means to (not) participate in a war that I believed to be illegal."

Head asked if Watada believed the statement to be "confessional" to the charge of missing movement.

"No, I did not," Watada said.

If the stipulation couldn't be accepted, then the two charges that were dropped would be renewed. The plea agreement would have to be rejected. So the judge called a mistrial.

"We did not want a mistrial," Seitz said outside the courtroom. He said he believes that the prohibition against double jeopardy ought to keep prosecutors from trying Watada a second time. If they do, he will take the case to an appeals court, he said.

Since the start, Seitz was frustrated at seeing his defense, which included calling expert witnesses to testify about the legality of the war and the parameters of Watada's free speech rights, constricted to keep from putting the war on trial. Head has said he wanted the focus on the legality of Watada's actions, not on the legality of the war.

Yet Seitz said after the court-martial ended in mistrial that Watada's intentions are a significant part of his defense.

"There is no way around talking about why he didn't get on that plane, and that is the government's continuing dilemma in this case," Seitz said.

Had he been tried and convicted, Watada faced a maximum of four years in prison and dismissal from the service. But for now, he continues to be an active-duty soldier, reporting for work every day at Fort Lewis.




POSTED: 7 FEBRUARY 2007 - 3:00pm HST

Mistrial ends Watada court-martial... for now

100 Watada supporters brave zero degree cold while Lt Watada takes the heat

by Mike Barber on 7 February 2007 in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada ended in a mistrial Wednesday in Fort Lewis, Washington.

The case's judge, Lt. Col. John Head, declared the trial over after a day of wrangling over a stipulation of facts that Watada had signed before the trial and that would have been part of the instructions to the jury. The judge decided that Watada never intended when he signed the stipulation to mean that he had a duty to go to Iraq with his unit.

Again the issue was Watada's views on the Iraq war -- opinions that kept him from going with his unit to the conflict and that the judge didn't want brought up at the court-martial.

Watada, a Stryker Brigade soldier, is the first commissioned officer to refuse to be deployed to Iraq. Watada's unit left this sprawling base for Iraq in June, but Watada remained behind. He said he believes the war is illegal and that his duty is to not abide by illegal orders.

But Head tried to keep the court-martial from becoming a tribunal on the war and its legality and has ruled that Watada's attorney cannot present witnesses to question the war's legality. Outside the base, that has been the issue as peace activists from across the country have rallied to Watada's side.

Watada is charged with missing movement to Iraq and with two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Those last two charges result from statements Watada made against the war in a video tape released to reporters after he made his refusal to go to Iraq public and to a Veterans for Peace convention at the University of Washington.

He had been charged with two other counts of conduct unbecoming for interviews he gave. Prosecutors dropped those charged in return for Watada's signing a stipulation that he had given the interviews. He also acknowledged in the stipulation that he didn't go with his unit to Iraq, though he didn't admit his guilt to the missing movement charge.

With the jury of officers out of the courtroom Wednesday morning, Head wanted to question Watada about the stipulation to make sure that it was accurate and to protect the lieutenant against any mistakes in it.

But Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, objected to the questioning. He said the stipulation should include Watada's reasons for not going to Iraq: His views that the war is illegal.

"It has always been his position that not only would he miss movement but he would not participate in a war he considered illegal" and not participate in war crimes, Seitz said.

"His specific intent was of a different character all together" than simply missing his unit's deployment to Iraq, Seitz said.

To prove a charge of missing movement, the prosecutors need to show that Watada did not report when he had a duty to do so. The disagreement that prompted the mistrial was about whether Watada admitted missing troop movement and having a duty to report, or only missing troop movement.

"I see there is an inconsistency in the stipulation of fact," the judge said Wednesday. "I don't know how I can accept (it) as we stand here now."
Because much of the Army's evidence was laid out in the document, rejecting it would hurt its case, Head acknowledged.



POSTED: 5 JANUARY 2007 - 11:30am HST

Military subpoenas reporters in Watada case

anti-war reporters Sarah Olsen and Dahr Jamai have been subpoened by military

by Jeff Paterson on 4 January 2007 in

In the face of growing attention, judge delays testimony until February 5.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse his orders to deploy to Iraq last June 22. In his upcoming February court-martial Lt. Watada faces one charge of missing troop movement, and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Each of the later four charges relates to Lt. Watada’s public explanations of his refusal to deploy to Iraq. If convicted of all charges Lt. Watada faces six years in prison, four of which would be for speaking to the press.

In order to bolster their four charges of conduct unbecoming against Lt. Watada, the military prosecution has taken the unheard of step of issuing subpoenas to reporters and anti-war activists. Reporters Sarah Olson and Gregg Kakesako, and Seattle-area anti-war activists Phan Nguyen and Gerri Haynes, were originally served subpoenas to appear at Lt. Watada’s pre-trial hearing at Fort Lewis, Washington today, January 4. In the wake of growing attention and controversy, the military judge postponed the testimony of these witnesses until the full courts martial scheduled for February 5.

Today’s pre-trial hearing will in large part set the tone of the upcoming court martial, specifically addressing the issue of how much evidence Lt. Watada can enter into the proceeding regarding his assertions that the Iraq occupation war is illegal.

Independent journalist Sarah Olson interviewed Lt. Watada last May. The Army says statements Watada made during Olson’s interview constitute one charge of conduct unbecoming an officer, and wants Olson to verify those statements in a military court. Olson says: “It’s my job to report the news, not to participate in a government prosecution. Testifying against my source would turn the press into an investigative tool of the government and chill dissenting voices in the United States.”

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail reported on Lt. Watada’s address to the Veterans for Peace convention last August in Seattle. Unlike Olson, he has yet to be subpoenaed, but the Army has placed him on the witness list in order to authenticate his reporting of the event. Jamail says: “I don’t believe that reporters should be put in the position of having to participate in a prosecution. This is particularly poignant in this case, where journalists would be used to build a case against free speech for military personnel.”

Subpoenaed reporter Gregg Kakesako of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has thus far chosen to make no public statements regarding his possible testimony.
Olson sums up the situation in a widely reprinted commentary, “Why I object to testifying against Lt. Watada” first published by Editor & Publisher, “Do I want to be sent to prison by the U.S. Army for not cooperating with their prosecution of Lieutenant Watada? My answer: Absolutely not. Would I rather contribute to the prosecution of a news source for sharing newsworthy perspectives on an affair of national concern? That is the question I wholly object to having before me in the first place.”

While conservative blogs have attacked Olson and Jamail as making something out of nothing, Military Reporters and Editors Association President James Crawley stated, "Trying to force a reporter to testify at a court-martial sends the wrong signal to the media and the military. . . . One of the hallmarks of American journalism, as documented in the Bill of Rights and defended by our armed services, is a clear separation of the press and the government. Using journalists to help the military prosecute its case seems like a serious breach of that wall."
Colleagues and supporters of Olson and Jamail have formed the Free Press Working Group to assist in their defense. As independent journalists, Olson and Jamail do not have access to corporate legal teams, so a fund has been established to cover travel, legal, and communications expenses. For more information, please visit: .

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.

Despite unheard of legal maneuvers by Army prosecutors, 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 are asked to write Lt. General James Dubik, Commanding General Fort Lewis, 1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1, Fort Lewis WA 98433. Please request that General Dubik “Dismiss all charges and honor Lt. Watada's long-standing resignation from the U.S. Army.”

A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College, Tacoma campus in order to fully evaluate Lt. Watada’s claims regarding the legality and morality of the Iraq War. Confirmed witness include: Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War; Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General; Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. For more information:

Finally, help spread the word about the regional mobilization at Fort Lewis on day Lt. Watada’s court martial is scheduled to begin on February 5, or organize your own local protest in solidarity on that day. For more information:

Democracy Now! Interview: U.S. Army Tries to Force
Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail to Testify Against Ehren Watada

2 January 2007

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."

Despite the fact that independent journalist Sarah Olson's reporting of Lt. Watada's statements are publicly available, the U.S. Army has subpoenaed her to testify in the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada. Even though Dahr Jamail simply transcribed and published one of Ehren Watada's speeches - which was recorded and available anyway - Dahr Jamail has been placed on the witness list and may also be forced to appear.

In this interview, Amy Goodman speaks with the two journalists. Sarah and Dahr explain why forcing journalists to testify against their sources is a chilling new attack on journalism and free speech in the US.

Interestingly, this was followed by this announcement as reported in the Democracy Now! headlines today, January 3:

Journalist Avoids Watada Hearing, Remains Prosecution Witness
And finally, this update on a story from yesterday’s broadcast – a judge has ruled independent journalist Sarah Olson does not need to testify at Thursday’s pre-trial hearing for First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. Watada is facing six years in prison over his refusal to deploy to Iraq. Olson is challenging her subpoena to testify based on her interview with Watada earlier this year. On Tuesday, Olson was told she will not need to appear at the pre-trial hearing but will remain on the prosecution’s witness list.

Suzanne Swift is released from brig
3 January 2007 in

FORSupporters of Spc. Suzanne Swift rallied outside Fort Lewis, Washington this morning to welcome the news that Swift had been released from military prison.

On December 14 Swift was convicted by a summary court martial for missing movement and being AWOL. She was sentenced to spend 30 days in confinement and must stay in the military until 2009. She was released this morning with time off for good behavior. “Suzanne faced her court martial with strength and respect. I was more than proud of her," said Sara Rich, Suzanne's mom, following her court martial last month.

Swift's case had garnered national attention since she was arrested at her mother's home in June 2006. Swift had gone AWOL just before her military police unit was to redeploy to Iraq in January 2006. During her previous tour of duty in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, Swift was sexually harassed and assaulted by superiors.

Click here for photos of yesterday's show of support. For more information about Suzanne Swift:

See other KITV articles about Watada:
Nov 9. 2006: Army Orders Court-Martial For Hawaii Soldier
July 27, 2006: Groups Show Support For Soldier Who Refused Deployment
July 13, 2006: Hearing Set For Soldier Who Refused Iraq Deployment
July 6, 2006: Army Charges Soldier Who Refused To Deploy
June 26, 2006: Hawaii Soldier Who Refused Deployment Is Reassigned
June 23, 2006: Hawaii Soldier Refuses To Leave With Unit For Iraq
June 8, 2006: Soldier Receives Death Threats Over Refusal To Go To Iraq
June 8, 2006: Soldier Ready To Face Jail For Refusing Deployment
June 7, 2006: Hawaii Soldier Refuses To Deploy To Iraq