Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 26.2 (Fall 2006)
June 7, 2006
by Lt. Ehren Watada
Family, friends, members of the religious community, members of the press, and my fellow Americans—thank you for coming today.
My name is Ehren Watada. I am a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and I have served for 3 years. It is my duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices. My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not those who would issue unlawful orders. I stand before you today because it is my job to serve and protect those soldiers, the American people, and innocent Iraqis with no voice.
It is my conclusion as an officer of the Armed Forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. 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.
The war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances. It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army’s own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes.
Normally, those in the military have allowed others to speak for them and act on their behalf. That time has come to an end. I have appealed to my commanders to see the larger issues of our actions. But justice has not been forthcoming. My oath of office is to protect and defend America’s laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today. Thank you.
On June 22, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the unlawful Iraq War and occupation. Lt. Watada has been formally charged with contempt towards President Bush, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and missing movement. Reprinted from thankyoult.live.radicaldesigns.org