UPDATED: An officer says No to 'war crimes'

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Today, as his Stryker Brigade leaves for the Air Force Base that will transport them to Iraq, Lt. Ehren Watada becomes the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment claiming that "[my]participation would make me party to war crimes."

When Watada, who had attempted to resign his commission at least twice, learned in May that his request was denied, he simply refused to deploy, saying:
"Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order."
Upon learning of Watada's intentions, his commanding officer attempted to shut him up by launching an official investigation into his public opposition. Needless to say, it didn't work.

Conscientious Objector status, by the way, is only available to those who are strict pacifists -- rejecting all war, "legal" or not -- so flat-out refusal was the only means at his disposal.

In fact, far from being a pacfist, Watada's objections are specific to Iraq; as the Seattle P-I reported, Watada has said that "he would serve in Afghanistan."

Video of tuesday's press conference is HERE. Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, who flew in from Hawaii, had this to say:
My son’s decision to refrain from deploying to Iraq comes through much soul searching. It is an act of patriotism. It is a statement to all Americans, to men and women in uniform, that they need not remain silent out of fear, that that they have the power to turn the tide of history: to stop the destruction of a country and the killing of untold numbers of innocent men, women, and children. It is a message that states unequivocally that blindly following orders is no longer an option. My son, Lt. Watada’s stance is clear. He will stay the course. I urge you to join him in this effort.
Standing with Watada is retired Col. Ann Wright, who resigned in 2003. She noted that: "The country of Iraq did nothing to the United States of America," and supported Watada's right to disobey "illegal orders."

***

UPDATE, from Thank You site: "At this time Lt. Watada has been restricted to base, possibly confined to quarters, and has been ordered to have no contact with any non-military personnel, with the exception of his civilian lawyer."
More info HERE.

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