Thursday, February 8, 2007

Mistrials on Ice

Lt. Ehren Watada - Free at Last!

For a few months, anyway.

Lt. Ehren Watada is on trial for "missing a movement" and "conduct unbecoming an officer". I think the "conduct unbecoming" is a more severe charge. After reading all the information he could on the War against Iraq, he decided that by going to participate in that theatre of operations, he would be giving tacit approval to a war crime, and could therefor be charged under the Geneva Conventions as a war criminal. He is on fairly solid ground, as I understand the law. Doesn't matter how lowly he is, if he feels the order is illegal, he is obligated to disobey. This may get him in trouble, but at least he won't go to prison for the rest of his life (or face execution) for committing what might be called atrocities.

The judge felt that introducing Lt. Watada's reasons for "missing his movement" as tantamount to confessing to a crime to which he was pleading Not Guilty. In other words, the prosecution and the judge both felt that Watada's defense couldn't be introduced, but every witness against him said that he was refusing to deploy to an illegal war. And his statement to the prosecutors was simply a restatement of why he wouldn't deploy to Iraq. In other words, with every prosecution witness, with every statement and stipulation, the judge was having to introduce evidence that he said was not allowable in his courtroom.


Double jeopardy may or may not apply. The civilian defense attorney says it would in civilian court, but this is a military court-martial. Who can tell what the military will do when faced with opposition within the ranks?

I suppose they could always try and order him to go to Iraq again, and court-martial him all over again, when he refuses to go...


Vietnam - 1952 onward After ignoring repeated pleas from Ho Chih Minh to help them repel the French Colonial power (Ho Chih Minh sent President Truman a copy of their Declaration of Independence, which freely quotes from our Declaration and from the French Rights of Man and the Citizen), the United States finally involved itself in Indochina by assisting in the appointment of Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic elitist with little understanding of the politics of the mostly agrarian, Buddhist society he was to govern. Besides banning prostitution, opium dens and trying to impose Catholic values, his government was also responsible for the torture and execution of countless thousands of suspected communists. He was eventually assassinated with a blind eye turned by John F Kennedy (who was himself assassinated 20 days later), and replaced with chaos and continuing power struggles. Given the choice between American colonizers (as they were seen by the Vietnamese people) and Communists (who were, at least, themselves Vietnamese) soldiers in the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) found themselves more often than not sympathizing with the Communist north. And we know how all that eventually went.

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