I feel that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada should be thanked instead of prosecuted ("Watada looking forward to trial's end," Star-Bulletin, Dec. 19). He was only standing up for international, U.S. and military law by refusing to deploy to Iraq in support of the ongoing illegal war and occupation. It should be those who encouraged this war who should be brought up on charges.
From the pre-emptive invasion based on deception, to the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and more than 3,000 U.S. troops, to the infamous Abu Ghraib torture cells and the recent Haditha massacre, no more evidence is required of how very wrong this war is. It is refreshing that at least one person is willing to stand up and follow his conscience. It is a shame more haven't done this.
I would like to see the following:
» All charges should be dismissed.
» There should be congressional hearings on the legality of the Iraq war. Any court-martial should be delayed until after these hearings are held.
» Watada should receive no confinement as punishment. In fact he should not receive any punishment. He should be given an award.
Comment: Kailua resides on the North Shore of the island of Oahu. Given the Shogunate of Hawaii's achievement of becoming the nation's fourth largest marijuana producer, I would recommend that Mr. Ehrhorn ease down a little on sampling the products of the North Shore. My recommendation extends to schoolteachers from Kailua and the North Shore as well.
This letter to the editor ranks up there with new Congresslady Hirone's Department of Peace. Aren't we glad the Hemp Princess failed in her bid for the US Senate?
Before last evening, I supported Lt. Watada, in theory, for refusing to deploy to Iraq on the grounds that he came to believe that the invasion and subsequent war there are illegal. After hearing him speak Tuesday at the Church of the Crossroads, I plan to take a more conscious role in his defense (Star-Bulletin, Dec. 20).
The young lieutenant was eloquent beyond words as he laid out his struggle. He did volunteer out of passion for his country. When he became an officer, he did not turn a deaf ear to why we invaded Iraq nor the unfolding of events. Would that every military person would open his/her mind and heart to the underlying truths about this horrible war in Iraq. Granted, it is filled with complexity!
If you were not there to hear the young officer, get a transcript of his speech or find it on tape. He will expand your mind to the true duty of military service. When he took the military oath it was to defend the country against all enemies "foreign and domestic." It is the defense against the "domestic" that we need pay close attention. Is our military bound to carry out orders that are based on distortions or even lies?
Watada has raised the bar for all citizens of this country. Hawaii can add Watada to its heroes. He may not make the history books today or in his lifetime, but he will be there for our children to honor and hopefully emulate. This young man does not belong in prison!
Jo An Gaines
Comment: There are two revelations that emerge from Ms. Gaines' letter to the editor. First, she never spent time in the military. Second, she seems to overlook the lies that she has internalized in order to produce this opinion about Lt. Watada. I would conclude that she a Democrat.
I have wondered whether 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's decision not to go to Iraq was motivated by sincere antiwar feelings or by his desire to avoid a dangerous situation. Your Dec. 19 story about his transferring from Punahou School to Kalani High School to "escape academic pressures" and enjoy his high school years answers that question. It is hard to give the benefit of the doubt to a man who has a history of rationalizing his way to the easy and convenient course of action.
It is sad that there is another U.S. Army first lieutenant in Iraq because Watada refused to go. However, it is a very good thing that he is not in Iraq responsible for the lives of the men and women who would have served under him. He is clearly not a person to trust with that kind of responsibility.
I really don't have strong feelings about the man himself. He will spend some time enjoying the attention of small groups of people who, with little understanding of the concepts of duty, honor and commitment, will use him to gain publicity for their purposes, and then he will then fade away. In the end, the U.S. Army and our country will better off because of it.
Sorry, Ms. Gaines ("Watada is a hero in his own right," Letters, Dec. 21), there is nothing complex about honoring a signed contract, especially when 1st Lt. Ehren Watada was not under duress when he committed to become an officer. My son also signed as a young 2nd lieutenant in the early 1990s and honored his commitment then. Watada appears to be an intelligent man, but his reasons for not serving are certainly not compelling enough to warrant justification ... his First Amendment right notwithstanding. He deserves to be court-martialed and to spend time in prison; appropriate social justice, in my opinion, should prevail.
It is apparent that more than 350 misguided people just are not getting the message. Lt. Ehren Watada asks, "Why are we focusing on me and the personal issue?"
Well, that is just the issue. He and his refusal to obey orders in deploying with the men with whom he trained are the issues. The issue is not about an illegal war, as he has stated on many occasions. Many of us wonder how he has reached a decision that the war is an illegal one.
When he raised his right arm and accepted a commission as an officer of the U.S. Army, he became subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and accepted certain privileges as well as responsibilities. It is obvious that he has not or is not carrying out his responsibilities as the forthcoming court-martial will find.
Lt. Watada and his supporters are attempting to cloud the issue by emphasizing repeatedly the war issue rather than a refusal to obey orders.
He may be a hero to the misguided few, but to most of us he is a coward for not serving his country after accepting a commission in the U.S. Army, a very responsible and honorable position.
At the Dec. 19 Church of the Crossroads session, Advertiser staff writer Rod Ohira quotes Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada asking: "Why are we focusing on me and the personal issue?"
Because, lieutenant, in deliberately missing movement and acting with conduct unbecoming an officer, you betrayed your country in time of war.
In setting himself up as both judge and jury to adjudicate the "legality" of the campaign in Iraq, Lt. Watada presumes to set himself above his fellow citizens who elected and then re-elected the commander-in-chief now prosecuting this war on terror. Unlike our twice-elected president who is upholding his oath of office in difficult times, Lt. Watada shows abject contempt not only for the oath he volunteered to take, but for his fellow countrymen, whom he now grandly presumes to instruct on matters of morality.
Whether or not the members of your general court-martial sentence you to the stockade, the Army is well shed of you.
Thomas E. Stuart
Retired lieutenant commander, U.S. Navy Kapa'au, Big Island
Bravo, 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, for refusing to participate in the Iraq war. There is a hero, someone who is courageous enough to put his freedom on the line to oppose an illegitimate, immoral war that is based on deception and that we are losing.
Prison might be in your future, Lieutenant, but take comfort from the fact that several of history's greatest leaders have been jailed before going on to noble accomplishments.
Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian freedom fighter, pledged, "We will faithfully follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person or property." He spent time in jail, but he helped gain India's independence from Great Britain's colonial rule.
Martin Luther King was arrested and fined for political action. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
Nelson Mandela spent a quarter of a century in jail for his political actions. He went on to become South African president and one the world's greatest statesmen. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
When you go to jail, Lieutenant, take books on government along. You obviously have a great future ahead of you. Your proven fortitude, strength, honesty and intelligence could qualify you to be our first U.S. president of Asian ancestry!
Gerhard C. Hamm
Comment: The author of this letter to the editor represents the traitors amongst us in the Shogunate of Hawaii.
In regard to reader Bob Haglund's remarks that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada did not set a good example (Letters, Dec. 20), I would suggest that Haglund is not basing his opinion on facts that were eloquently presented last Tuesday by Watada to an overflow crowd of enthusiastic supporters of the Constitution, civil rights and international law.
Upholding the Constitution, civil rights, and international law is the most patriotic act that an officer can teach those in his command. Apparently the president and his Cabinet failed this civics lesson, for they have committed war crimes against humanity by the illegal invasion of Iraq, which has resulted in the deaths of what is now said to be 650,000 Iraqis.
The question that the public and media should be asking is why other military commanders have not protested. Do they not have a conscience?
Watada has my full support and admiration for his integrity and courage. There should be no punishment for doing the right thing. In fact, I would suggest that the wrong person (people) is on trial.
Comment: This letter to the editor is what one would expect from the North Shore of Oahu.
Sorry, Lt Ehren Watada, there is nothing complex about honoring a signed contract, especially when you were not under duress when you committed to become an officer.
My son signed as a young 2nd lieutenant in early 1990, and honored his commitment then.
Watada appears to be an intelligent man, but his reasons for not serving are certainly not compelling enough to warrant justification of his actions, First Amendment rights, notwithstanding. He deserves to be court-martialed and spend time in prison. Appropriate social justice, in my opinion, should prevail.
Recently, Lt. Ehren Watada spoke eloquently of his decision not to deploy to Iraq.
A commissioned officer, he is the first to be prosecuted by the military since 1965 for voicing his opinion and taking a stand against a war he believes immoral and unconstitutional. Lt. Watada's decision clearly was difficult and based on conscience.
My parents and I listened closely with the audience. My father is a retired Navy officer who served in World War II, and my mother served as a cadet nurse. Along with the audience, we were overwhelmingly impressed by the serious young lieutenant.
It is courageous to refuse to lead your troops into a war you truly believe is immoral and unconstitutional. It is courageous to face a military Goliath and possible six-year prison term.
I shook Lt. Watada's hand, and knew I had met a truthful and brave man, a hero, who knows as an officer that his duty is to protect the U.S. Constitution and his country.
Lt. Watada has taken a stand against a war many of us believe is a horrifying travesty.
Bambi Lin Litchman
Comment: I would have thought that the destruction of the World Trade Center was a horrifying travesty, but, then again, my name isn't Bambi.
Shame on those who don't dare to stand up for our constitutional rights and who call 1st Lt. Ehren Watada a coward for offering to fight terrorism in Afghanistan instead of killing innocent people in the illegal and immoral Bush/Chalabi Iraq war. They should get the facts.
Watada is certainly not a coward. Compared to them, he is a true American patriot. How many of his detractors would stand up for our Constitution at the risk of being put in prison for many years?
Nearly 80 percent of Americans now realize that President Bush lied and misled all of us, America and the world community, when he attacked, invaded, occupied and continues to rule Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attack on our country by Bush's Saudi friends.
When the Saudi terrorists attacked us in 2001, I wrote to the president and offered to be re-called to serve again in uniform, if my skills were needed. Did any of these naysayers offer to serve alongside Watada in the fight against terrorism? I think not.
I, and many other veterans against the Iraq war, admire bravery, and I believe that history will show that Bush was all wrong, and Watada was right. It is not as if Watada went AWOL or deserted as Bush did in the Vietnam War, or refused to take a drug test and lost his flight status as Bush did. The Army knew where the lieutenant was at all times and could have assigned him to a unit headed for Afghanistan where we are fighting terrorism, but for pressure from Washington to make an example of this man who dared to stand up against illegal orders to fight an illegal war.
U.S. Army veteran
Comment: Mr. Haugen omits mentioning how he acquired his veteran status in the US Army. From his letter to the editor, he seems clueless about the requirements of commissioning and the maintenance of discipline in the Armed Forces. Yet, I suppose, many years after Watada's incarceration, history may be kind to the opinion in this letter to the editor ... in posterity we shall await the final verdict concerning illegal orders. After all, the boxer, Ali, went to prison for a similar act of defiance.
The accused Army officer whom I call "detainee Watada" was granted leave to come home from the military while facing serious charges. It seems so unfair to the thousands of loyal military servicemen and women who serve our country during this holiday season to allow this detainee that privilege. Everyone who has ever served in the military knows that authorized leave of absence from your unit is at the discretion of your commander. It is a tough time for commanders to decide who has earned the privilege, and who should stay and man the fort.
To make matters worse, detainee Watada abused his time to again publicly denounce the military he promised to serve. Hero? Huh? What am I missing here? How can he be called a hero?
George B. Furtado
Comment: Hero? Of course, Japanese-American Watada can be called a Hero. Japanese-American Backdoor Dan Inouye received the Medal of Honor for allowing former-Democrat-President Billy "I didn't have sex with that woman" Clinton to engage in oral sex with a subordinate in the Oval Office. With that standard as a reference, Watada could receive the Nobel Peace Prize!
Family of Man Killed in Iraq Requests Help from Hawaii Reporter Readers
By Christian Wong, 12/25/2006 11:23:08 PM
To the readers of the Hawaii Reporter, we need your help: On April 29, 2006, Steve Sakoda, born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb while serving his country as a Sergeant in the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army. He was in Iraq because he volunteered for active combat duty after witnessing the violent attacks of September 11, 2001.
Prior to his deployment, Sgt. Sakoda was a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Communications. Some of his classmates and friends are currently trying to have him honored as a Distinguished Alumni from the University of Hawaii.
He was nominated, but the selection committee denied his selection this Friday, opting instead to honor Mr. Russell Okata, Executive Director of the HGEA, Mr. Maurice Kaya, the Chief Technology Officer from DBEDT, and Mr. Yukio Takeya, the owner of Ala Kai Realty.
As successful as these three men may be, Sgt. Sakoda's friends and classmates feel the selfless sacrifice made by Steve and his family should be properly remembered by having him honored as a Distinguished Alumni.
This is where you, the readers of the Hawaii Reporter come in. We ask that you please send an email to the UHH Alumni and Friends Association at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Please tell them you think that Steve Sakoda should be honored as a Distinguished Alumni. You may not agree with the Iraq war, and most Americans do not, but please remember that Sgt. Sakoda was there not as a policy maker, but as a soldier who was doing his duty for his country and gave his life believing that his sacrifice would make our country a safer place for his family and all of us.
It is because of the sacrifices of men and women like Steve Sakoda that the Hawaii Reporter exists and that we as a free people may exercise our right to free speech among our other myriad rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Sgt. Sakoda has continued the legacy of the Hawaiian Soldier first started by the warriors of the 442nd in WWII. He has represented our great state honorably, the least we can do is to honor his memory and celebrate his life. It will only take a minute of your time, please do not let Sgt. Sakoda be forgotten. Christian Wong can be reached via email at mailto:email@example.com
Comment: Watada gets far more press from the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin ... the voice of Backdoor Dan Inouye ... than this fellow Sakoda. Maybe Backdoor Dan Inouye should be called on the carpet over this oversight.
This is a letter to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper:
EDITORIAL SHOWED BIAS ON MILITARY JUSTICE
Your call for the military to conduct a fair hearing in the Lt. Ehren Watada case (Editorial, Dec. 22) is reflective of The Advertiser's bias in reporting this case, as well as its privileging of Watada over other active-duty service personnel undergoing judicial review.
There was no such call for a fair trial for the Schofield Army serviceman on trial for the murder of his former girlfriend and the mother of his child.
Your editorial comments regarding the Watada case needing special handling in fairness insult the active, former and retired military personnel as well as the Military Code of Justice. Your comments are reflective of a belief system that the military justice system is inherently flawed in favor of the military command, not the individual on trial.
Those of us with a military connection believe in the inherent fairness of the Military Code of Justice and want to see Watada justly punished for his actions, not let off with a slap on the hands.
Milo D. Huempfner
Comment: The Scofield Barracks soldier on trial for murdering his girlfriend was not a Punahou Schools pampered-poodle, Japanese-American whose father was a conscientious objector and with strong Shogunate of Hawaii political ties. As I recall, the Scofield Barracks soldier was an Afro-American from the Mainland ... like any pampered-poodle Japanese-American or Native Hawaiian, demanding justice, could care about anyone from the Mainland receiving justice.
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