Not-So-Free Speech

It is commonly assumed that the First Amendment right to engage in political speech is abridged by military service. Loyalty and duty have often been viewed as inconsistent with criticism of the military or its civilian commanders.

First Lt. Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq, but he's also facing charges for "making four public statements criticizing President Bush and the Iraq war."

Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native who enlisted after the Sept. 11 attacks, said he gradually came to the conclusion that the Bush administration had lied about the basis for war and had betrayed the trust of the American people, making Watada ashamed to wear the uniform. In media interviews and in a speech at a peace convention, Watada also said that the Iraq war was "not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law," and that soldiers could stop it by refusing to fight.

At this point, Watada's opinions are widely shared. With good reason, many will view Watada's complaints as prescient, not disloyal. The military argues that it has the power to punish Watada for unbecoming conduct, but punishing a soldier for speaking the truth won't sit well with public opinion. The climate is ripe for a decision that respects Watada's right to be a vocal participant in American democracy.

Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, argued last week that even military personnel could voice dissent, particularly on issues of such public importance as war. In motions to dismiss the charges of unbecoming conduct, Seitz argued that Watada's dissent was respectfully delivered and did not rise to the moral failings the military code was meant to punish, which include "dishonesty, unfair dealings, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice and cruelty."

"Whether or not one agrees with Lt. Watada's conclusions, it was no sign of personal degradation or moral unfitness for him to speak his conscience on gravely important issues of war and peace," Seitz argued.

Seitz also argued that Watada was being selectively prosecuted; he noted that several high-ranking retired military officials had criticized the war effort and not been charged with any offenses. Retired officers who draw a military pension are still subject to military law.

But two of those cited in Seitz's motion, Army Maj. Gens. John Batiste and Paul D. Eaton, said in interviews that they drew sharp distinctions between Watada's conduct as a still-active-duty officer and their own remarks after they left the service.

"It is totally inappropriate if not unauthorized for an active-duty officer to publicly criticize the chain of command," said Eaton, a 33-year military veteran who led the Iraqi security forces training program before stepping down last January. He subsequently called then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld "incompetent" and urged Rumsfeld to resign in an op-ed article.

The unbecoming-conduct charges carry a maximum sentence of four years.

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    A day at the office (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by koshembos on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:29:17 AM EST
    As in most American organizations, speaking your mind will most likely result in severe punishment. If you tell your boss that he is wrong, you may be the door in a flash. If you complain about your boss, the latter will claim that you have negligent all of last year.

    Why do you expect the military to be any different?

    Yep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by plumberboy on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:06:58 AM EST
    That is so true.The people or leaders don't want to hear the truth,they just want some mindless robot that follows their every order.

    Yep, others may be different (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by koshembos on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:00:44 AM EST
    There are societies where towing the line is not axiomatic. Mediterranean societies are more comfortable with disagreements and are open to constructive exchange.

    There may be many other such societies I am just not familiar with.


    Are you kidding? (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:18:04 AM EST
    Constructive? Are you kidding me? Can you say the following?


    Gen Franco






    Not the same (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Al on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 01:31:12 PM EST
    The big difference here is that people are being put in harm's way and the probability of getting killed is substantial. Also, if you criticize your boss, you may get fired. If you criticize the military, you go to prison.

    A soldier signs up to defend his country. Fine. But then if he is sent to invade another country instead, and he is in danger of being killed, of course he should be able to criticize the decision.


    edger, "free speech" is a misnomer (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:25:19 AM EST
    it sometimes comes bearing a cost. ask anyone who's been assailed for their opinion, not by the gov't, but by other people. in 1st. lt. watada's case, he knew (or should have known) what he was getting himself into. frankly, i have to wonder just how much thought went into his enlisting in the first place. part of the deal is that sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

    with regards to the "illegal war" aspect of his refusal to follow orders, that's a different animal entirely. he could well have followed that tact, and taken his chances. statistically, i'd say his odds were, well, um, nil. first, it isn't a "war", congress never declared it so. second, congress did authorize the action.

    though it may well be argued that it was done under false pretenses, i submit that's an issue for congress, not 1st. lt. watada, to resolve.

    would no one have listened to him, had he waited to speak out until after he'd completed his tour? beats me, i don't own, or have access to, a crystal ball. many vets have spoken out, and been listened to. i think he'd have more ears, being an iraqi vet, than not. but that's merely my opinion.

    i don't agree that he's fighting for all of our rights, in this regard. good military discipline requires adherence to the rules and regulations, especially for an officer. you want to see more haditha's? let the 1st. lt. watadas take charge. after all, why should his men follow orders and the rules/regs., if their officers aren't?

    again, my disagreement isn't with what he's saying, but how he's doing it.

    Thats putting it lightly.... (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:43:46 AM EST
    part of the deal is that sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

    You make it sound like he refused to clean the head CP....an occupation widely viewed as illegal is more than simply something he doesn't "like", it's something he feels is morally wrong.  

    Obviously, I've got no problem with how he is going about it.  Mainly I'm just glad he is going about it.  If more soldiers did, maybe the occupation would be over by now.


    Well... (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 09:22:50 AM EST
    ...I think it is pretty obvious that he is doing what he is doing to become a "test case" and force a court decision on the legality of the Iraq invasion.

    (1) He believes it was illegal, and (2)he believes that he has a duty and a moral obligation to refuse to obey orders that would require him to take part in an illegal invasion.

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

    These articles require the obedience of LAWFUL orders.

    An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed, but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.

    "I was only following orders," has been unsuccessfully used as a legal defense in hundreds of cases (probably most notably by Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II). The defense didn't work for them, nor has it worked in hundreds of cases since.

    To Obey or Not to Obey?

    I agree with him... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 09:42:01 AM EST
    ...so I not only have no problem with the way he is doing what is doing, but I support him doing it completely, and I think that what he is doing takes a helll of a lot more guts than the chickenhawks sitting comfortably at home cheering bush on while he pushes a wall of children into the firing line of his illegal and immoral hegemonic adventures while spinning and twisting themselves into knots trying every rhetorical deceit they can invent or regurgitate to justify supporting the Iraq debacle. (I don't mean you, cpinva - you know that)

    I think that for everyone the issue boils down to this:

       Emerson: What are you doing in there, Henry?

        Thoreau: No, Waldo, the question is: What are you doing out there?

    Illegal war? (1.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Gabriel Malor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 09:42:58 AM EST
    From the LATimes article:

    The lieutenant is arguing that the Bush administration failed to obtain proper authorization for the war and that the Nuremberg principles adopted after World War II require soldiers to refuse illegal orders. But Seitz said the judge indicated last week that he would probably not permit the hearing.

    I think he's going to have a hard time arguing both those points. First, I'm having trouble even thinking up a colorable argument to make that the Iraq War was unauthorized. Congress declared it and Congress continues to fund it. That's all it takes to "obtain proper authorization for war." The civil courts aren't going to overrule Congress on this, and I doubt very much this military court will, either.

    Notice that if he fails to show that the Iraq war was illegal, his second contention--that he has a right and duty to refuse to obey illegal orders--also fails. His other option would be to argue in the alternative that the even if the war isn't illegal, the specific orders he received are. I expect his orders were simply to report for depoloyment, so I don't think he'll get very far on that either.

    Second, it may just be the way the LATimes article is written, but there were no Nuremberg principles "adopted" after the Second World War. Nuremberg serves as the most prominent example of international cooperation to charge, try, and convict crimes related to war, aggression, and crimes against humanity. As a precedent-setting event, it carries great persuasive weight, but no country is bound by the rules used at Nuremberg.

    As far as the right and duty not to obey illegal orders, the only thing Nuremberg has to tell us about that subject is that the defense of superior orders, that is, claiming that one has no choice because he is ordered to do something, will not protect a person. This upholds the idea that under most circumstances a military member will be held accountable for his direct actions, even if he was under orders at the time.


    You are incredibly good, Gabe... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 09:50:47 AM EST
    ...at intentionally and wilfully missing points.

    The point I made is that Watada believes it was an illegal invasion, and he is acting on that belief, rather than blindly following orders. And doing so at great personal cost.

    He has something that I believe you have little of.


    If you want to argue about what his beliefs are, fine, but trying to move what I said away from that is deceitful.


    You always say that. (1.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Gabriel Malor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:01:53 AM EST
    Edger, you always say I miss the point. We're discussing this officer's speech actions and his refusal to obey orders. I quoted directly from the original article that TChris commented on. I am, therefore, directly on point when I discuss the implications and merits of the case.

    I want to add that I agree with cpinva about what he thinks the proper course of action. Resign first. Then speech. Also, like you said Edger, I think this is an attempt at a "test case" on the legality of the war. I'm looking forward to it.


    You posted your argument (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:08:48 AM EST
    about the legality of the invasion in reply to my comment about Watada's beliefs.

    You attempted to divert from his beliefs to  a discussion of something else.

    You intentionally missed the point.


    edger - Old excuse (1.00 / 2) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:30:36 AM EST
    Anyone who disagrees with you always missess the point, changes the subject, etc..

    Don't you think that excuse is getting a bit old?

    No? Well, I think it has. And I think it demonstrates a singular lack of belief in free speech.


    Heh. (1.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Gabriel Malor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:11:09 PM EST
    I didn't realize the Thread Police were comin' to get me.

    I'd love to see a substantive response to my points. Screaming "missed the point! missed the point!" every time I post is getting a little old. If you don't actually have a response...well, I'll survive.

    With regard to Watada's beliefs about the war and the "Nuremberg principles", I think he is incorrect for the reasons I stated above. It is a Congressionally authorized action, and therefore legal, and as a result, he cannot claim to be disobeying an illegal order.

    As far as the assertions elsewhere in this post that the war is illegal under international law, no international laws have ever been understood curtail Congress' right to make war. That's a pipe-dream of international legal scholars and has never been upheld in any court of law at any time.


    They won't (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:16:27 AM EST
    let him resign.

    Of course not (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:24:40 AM EST
    Which is why people like Gabe want him to shut up unles he resigns first.

    they wouldn't let him ... (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:30:06 AM EST
    ... go to afghanistan instead either.

    aw, you are right. (1.00 / 2) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:28:16 AM EST
    You don't get to just pick up your marbles and leave.

    Having violated the law they are retaining him to try him.

    Now. If he had completed his obligation, and I don't know if he had or had not, before his illegal actions he could have resigned.

    My guess is that he had not completed his contractural obligations.


    You noticed that (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:32:22 AM EST
    Having violated the law they are retaining him to try him.

    Now notice that that has has been Watadas' intention all along.


    Good o for him. (1.00 / 2) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:35:43 AM EST
    I hope he enjoys what he gets.

    I hope you appreciate it (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:38:19 AM EST
    He is doing what he is doing for you. Not for himself. And in spite of the cost to himself.

    Declaration of war (none / 0) (#83)
    by Al on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:39:46 PM EST
    Congress declared it and Congress continues to fund it.

    Therein lies a whole can of worms. Here is what Congress authorized.

    In particular, note the following:

    The Resolution required President Bush's diplomatic efforts at the UN Security Council to "obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions." It authorized the United States to use military force to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."

    The Resolution was based on clearly misleading information supplied by the President, such as the alleged immediate threat posed by the fictitious WMD. And as we know, Iraq posed no threat to the United States whatsoever.

    So the argument that Congress is somehow responsible for declaring war on Iraq is completely baseless.


    Legality of declaration of war (none / 0) (#88)
    by Gabriel Malor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:16:05 PM EST
    Al, there is no requirement that Congress' decisions be smart, moral, or fully informed. Constitutionally and legally, all that is required is that it authorizes the military action. Since it has, the argument that the military's orders can be ignored because they are illegal isn't going to fly.

    Also, even if the idea that Congress was tricked into passing the AUMF were true, the fact that they've continued to fund it even after the trickery has been "exposed" tends to indicate that their intent is that the military actions continue.

    Either way, the lieutenant is going to have a tough time convincing a court that when Congress passed the AUMF it didn't really mean it.


    You can't have it both ways (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by Al on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 12:17:11 AM EST
    The President can lie to Congress but a man who is sent to risk his life as a consequence has to shut up about it? I don't think so.

    i doubt that jim (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:45:28 AM EST
    Basically the Left's argument, designed to hurt the war effort

    the left couldn't possibly screw up the war effort more than the bush administration has. the bush administration bears sole responsibility for the chaos in iraq, from it's questionable basis (whether they were outright lies remains to be seen), to it's poor planning, "war on the cheap" and ultimate refusal to recognize the reality on the ground.

    only the kennedy "bay of pigs" fiasco was worse, and kennedy wasn't a proponent of it, he (foolishly) went along with the cia.

    edger, you raise an interesting point:

    The point I made is that Watada believes it was an illegal invasion,

    the question i have is: is his belief reasonable or realistic? if not, he can believe it till the cows come home, and he's still going to end up in the stockade. i can believe someone means to harm me or my family, but unless my belief is reasonable, shooting them won't be self-defense.

    i've no doubt at all that 1st. lt. watada is sincere in his belief, i do doubt it's a reasonably held one. so far, i've seen nothing to support his contention that the military action in iraq is, per se, illegal. immoral perhaps, but that doesn't support his case.

    frankly, i'd prefer to see a test bunny with a higher degree of potential survivability than 1st. lt. watada's. i still think his best shot would have been to do his tour, come back with that on his resume', and then spout off.

    it would have given him more substance. but, he's young, and i suspect he's being given poor legal counsel. he's a cause, not a client. sadly, he'll lose, and another voice will be silenced.

    I think that (none / 0) (#39)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:56:49 AM EST
    everyone who has ever sacrificed their own short term interest to move the whole society forward in terms of rights and 'rightness' or 'morality' has acted from their own belief that they did what they was the right thing to do. e.g. Parks, Ghandi, etc.

    I think Watada is doing exactly that. And I think he is right. He may not be from a purely legal standpoint, but if so that is a fault in the law, IMO.


    Correction (none / 0) (#74)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 04:51:04 PM EST
    acted from their own belief that they did what they was the right thing to do

    I think that they did what what they did not so much because they 'believed' that what they did was the right thing to do...

    I think they just 'knew', without question, from somewhere inside themselves, that it was the right thing do do. They didn't have to ask anyone, or discuss it, they just did it.

    IOW, it was a feeling, a certainty on some level beyond 'believing', and beyond any need for talk or dicussion or weighing pros and cons.

    They just 'knew'... as I think we all do... and I think that is what drives Watada.


    In other other words.... (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:20:08 PM EST
    kinda like "a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do".  Consequences be damned because you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't.

    I'm with you brother, the problem lies with the law in this instance.  


    kind of, yeah (none / 0) (#77)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:33:57 PM EST
    Sometimes we talk too much about things, when if we just stop and stop, we know what has to be done, I guess...

    Having served (briefly) in the military... (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by obvioustroll on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:58:52 AM EST
    I'd like to make two points, and please read to the end before judging what I'm saying:

    1. It is a long standing rule that the military does not comment on politics. Not ever. This is for a good reason - the military is forbidden to exercise influence over the civilian government. I agree with this. I have no desire to live in a country where the military can sway public opinion - let alone directly affect government.

    2. With that said, I think Watada did the morally right thing. If he truly believes the war in Iraq is immoral, then he should be willing to put his ethics ahead of his career and I have nothing but respect for him for doing it.

    Finally, I should point out that the article is a bit misleading. Speaking out will end your career, possibly dishonorably, but is not a crime that carries a 6 year sentence. The reason he is looking at prison time is because he refused to deploy. Moreover, the argument about selective prosecution doesn't make sense to me: I do not believe the rule about free speech applies to discharged soldiers. If that were true, veterans wouldn't be allowed to run for political office.

    Deluded (none / 0) (#85)
    by Al on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:42:17 PM EST
    I have no desire to live in a country where the military can sway public opinion - let alone directly affect government.

    Then I suggest you immediately pack your bags and head for the nearest airport, because if you think that the military don't sway public opinion, or affect the government of the United States, you are seriously deluded.


    How to help Lt. Watada (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Dadler on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:05:41 PM EST
    Free Speech (1.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Fredo on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:31:26 PM EST
    Everyone who enters the US armed forces surrenders a whole panoply of rights enjoyed by all other citizens, including that of freedom of speech.  Honor required that this man complete the tour of duty for which he volunteered, after which he was free to speak his mind however he chose.  No serious person would advance a rule of law holding that military personnel enjoyed the same first amendment rights as American civilians.  In fact, I don't think such a rule is being advanced by anyone here.  Instead, I think what is contended for here is a rule that says, "military personnel should have the right to criticize George W. Bush and the war in Iraq."  Not very persuasive.

    Looks like (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 03:00:46 PM EST
    the whole point of what Watada is doing went right over your head.

    sorry, but he's wrong (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:25:37 AM EST
    not for his opinion, but for breaching the contract he freely entered into. presumptively, as an officer, 1st lt. watada clearly understood the terms of his commission, and his obligations under the UCMJ. conditions in the military change frequently, it's the nature of the beast.

    what he should have done was honored his contract, resigned his commission as soon as his obligation was completed, and then spoken out in public. again, this is something he agreed to up front, voluntarily.

    i know it isn't the pc thing to say, and i don't disagree with 1st. lt. watada's position, but he should have made his feelings known internally, resigned his commission, then opened up in public.

    Easy for you to say..... (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:10:48 AM EST
    Mr. Watada is the one who has to look at Mr. Watada in the mirror.

    I'd rather breech a contract than take innocent lives and participate in an illegal war.  I mean its only a contract, a piece of paper....far from flesh and blood.


    He has tried (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:18:17 AM EST
    to resign his commission at least twice.

    The Army has twice refused Watada's offer to step down as an Army officer or serve in some other combat zone, like Afghanistan.

    And the gov't has violated the contract? (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by Dadler on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:00:25 PM EST
    It's interesting that we seem to skim overr the de-facto reality that "the contract" a soldier signs is a sham, since there is virtually no way the government can ever violate it.  If they can at all.  

    We went to war for reasons that were complete empty b.s., we were not attacked, were not threatened with attack by Iraq (so pre-emptive arguments are empty b.s., as well), and we went in with NO OVERALL MILITARY STRATEGY.  None.  We went in with inferior resources, inferior manpower, inferior training for the actual mission at hand.  

    If I send an employee into harm's way for no good reason, and do so without giving them effective equipment or training, then I am guilty and liable and have no moral, logical standing in the matter -- especially since my employee, in this case a soldier, can't just quit if they don't like it.  The only reason the military/gov't isn't held to the same standard of decency is because, well, they're the military/gov't.  Essentially, in this matter, an unchecked power.  

    A rose is a rose.  Apologies to roses.


    Dadler, get over it. (1.00 / 4) (#60)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:14:44 PM EST
    The contract is a contract for service. It doesn't say that you will have reasonable training, tools or anything else.

    In fact, it is assumed that as part of obeying an order you may be killed.

    This aint CBS and you're not Perry Mason.


    PPJ, get over it. (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by Skyho on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:05:28 PM EST
    As a former officer (in Viet), I think I can comment on this deviltry.

    Every person in the military takes as oath that includes the phrase, "lawful order".

    According to lawyers at my school, one was required to obey a lawful order as well as "disobey" an unlawful order.  This oath is not just codified in the oath but repeated throughout treaties ratified by Congress (Geneva Accords) as well as other supporting documentation.

    Curiously, it does not depend on whether a war is "legal" or not.  While a war may be "illegal", a "legal" order would still have to be followed, though one would think a grain of salt would have to taken with any order from that situation.

    Curiously, some have tried to make a point of a "contract" which I find amusing.  Basically any piece of paper allows one the opportunity for "redress" from the US.  That is all.

    The Lt. seems to be relying on other reasons to consider his "deployment order" as illegal.  I can think of several situations where that might be true, the way the Bush admin. has unilaterally butchered the rules governing the use of the reserves and National Guard, under cover of a "declared war", which, of course, is, in itself, false.

    Even were one to hew to the meme of a declared war, one should be able to easily prove that any Congressional action giving the moron authority was based on false information and intelligence; WMD, remote bombers (45 minute), etc. and so on.


    Exactly (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:37:48 AM EST
    Legally speaking you're probably right (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:54:43 AM EST
    And if he had done so who would have listened. It's obvious he chose to do it this way to get his opinion and message out with the widest coverage he could get.... knowing what the personal cost would be.

    This guy is fighting for the rights of even the people who think he's wrong.


    What (none / 0) (#8)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:12:57 AM EST
    right is he fighting for?  Is he refusing to go because he thinks military members should have the right to unabridged free speech?  I can't find that anywhere.  

    The right to be (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:24:21 AM EST
    An American first, and a member of the military second, and the right, as well as the duty, to refuse illegal orders.

    Whether or not is is written down in any purported 'law' or 'regulation'.


    Not to mention (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:38:28 AM EST
    Any sort of "precedent" set at "Nuremberg".

    Worry (1.00 / 3) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:11:32 AM EST
    scar - Since you will never be in the military, why do you worry so much??

    off topic troll post (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:30:59 AM EST
    I'll never be gay, black, or jewish, either (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:04:24 AM EST
    You certainly seem to take a rather curious view of what it means to be a citizen, Jim.

    Not Exactly (1.00 / 1) (#14)
    by peacrevol on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 09:05:01 AM EST
    When you join the military, you waive a lot of rights. It is clear to you within the first few days of basic that you are property of the military. You right to be human is not even near the top of your list of rights. But quite honestly, that saves lives. It's the way it has to be b/c you dont want somebody in the suck that's supposed to be covering your a$$ and all of a sudden decide to not follow an order b/c he doesnt think it's right. If you dont follow orders in certain situations, you can get yourself and others killed. That's the reason they dont like to see any dissention from active personnel. Since he refused to serve, somebody else went over in his place. I dont understand how he could live with knowing that, especially if that somebody else was killed.

    I understand his views b/c I have felt the same way before. But I also understand the stance of the US military and I think they're right. Sometimes in the military, you dont know any reasons for what you're doing and the COs dont have time or really care to take the time to explain it to you. That's why you have to follow orders without question. That's the oath you take upon enlistment and you are expected to honor that oath.


    He swore to uphold the constitution (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:31:56 AM EST
    and he refused to be part of an illegal war.

    Declaired illegal by whom? (1.00 / 2) (#36)
    by peacrevol on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:37:09 AM EST
    Who is he to declare a war illegal? Does he really want to start a debate about whether the war is legal or not or does he just want to 'get out of the lineup' so to speak? Perhaps that should be a part of the hearing.

    I'm fairly sure (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:11:03 AM EST
    Laws, treaties, and other "quaint" relics of our civilized society declared this war illegal. The question is whether anyone will take the next step.

    But on what basis is it illegal? (none / 0) (#49)
    by peacrevol on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:48:14 AM EST
    While I dont think we should have gone to Iraq in the first place, I'm not sure that it is 'illegal'. Congress gave the go-ahead. It was sold on the idea of WMD, which Bush mistakingly thought Saddam had and was continuing to make. We didnt find any wmd, but we did find large mass graves, some old left-over munitions from the wmd programs of the 1980s and 1990s, and evidence of murder committed by the Iraqi govt. Bush decided not to stop and keep going w/ the overthrow of the Iraqi govt - perhaps a mistake, but I dont know about illegal.

    If you believe that Bush didnt make a mistake or had bad wmd intel, then you think he willingly lied. I assume that is where you get your idea of an illegal war. But proof of a willful lie to congress is not available right now (it might be out there but we just havent found it yet and it might not exist). So...who is this guy to say that the war was illegal.

    If you get the idea that it is an illegal war from somewhere else - please share b/c i dont know.

    However, I do understand this guy's stance b/c I felt the same way to an extent. After not finding wmds, I thought we should have left, or at least allowed congress to reevaluate, but the pooch had already been screwed and we were right dab in the middle of the suck. We may have been able to look back and forth at each other to try to decide what to do, but by that time, Saddam was hiding down in a little hole in the ground and Iraq was without a leader. They were still shooting at us, so we couldnt stop. I didnt have an option to not obey an order b/c I would have gotten my a$$ blown to bits, but I dont think I would have not reported for duty. That's just simply b/c I wouldnt want some other cat to die in my place b/c I wasnt there doing my job. That's the reason we need to make sure this guy didnt just want out of the lineup before we have any hearings about whether the war was legal or not.


    Peacrevol (none / 0) (#62)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:43:37 PM EST
    If you get the idea that it is an illegal war from somewhere else - please share b/c i dont know.

    Here's a start: Iraq invasion illegal

    IMO, this pretty much covers it:

    The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq  violates the basic rules of the United Nations Charter requiring countries to exhaust all peaceful means of maintaining global security before taking military action, and permitting the use of force in self-defense only in response to actual or imminent attack, two U.S. legal groups said Thursday.

    The U.N. Security Council's refusal to approve a resolution proposed by the United States, Britain and Spain clarified that the weapons inspection process initiated by Security Council Resolution 1441 last November should have been permitted to continue before military action could be authorized, added The Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) and the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF).

    The two groups, the U.S. affiliates of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), supported an open letter signed by 31 Canadian international law professors released Wednesday that called a U.S. attack against Iraq "a fundamental breach of international law (that) would seriously threaten the integrity of the international legal order that has been in place since the end of the Second World War."

    Such an action "would simply return us to an international order based on imperial ambition and coercive force," they added.


    That is as far as I will take this line in this thread. The subject has been exhaustively and painfully discussed here at TalkLeft in the past, and the threads are in the archives.


    Ok - one more... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:55:56 PM EST
    Richard Perle:
    In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

    President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

    But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

    gasp (none / 0) (#89)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:31:03 PM EST
    Why does Richard Perle hate America, freedom, democracy, apple pie, Jesus, etc?

    I don't know (none / 0) (#92)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:37:01 PM EST
    Gee, scar, I don't know.

    Why don't you ask him?


    gobbledee gook (none / 0) (#65)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:01:44 PM EST
    If you are going to assume that the UN has the right to enact and enforce laws, then some of this gobbledee gook might make sense.

    Of course then you would have to ask why the UN didn't demand that all the sanction violations by Iraq be enforced.


    International Law (none / 0) (#72)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:54:18 PM EST
    December 20, 2006
    Stephen Lendman
    Note: This is the second of a three-part series
    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

    Trashing International Law

    By attacking Iraq without provocation and with no Security Council authorization for it prior to March, 2003, the US violated the UN charter that it's a signatory to. It also violated the US Constitution that says.."all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

    The whole intent of international law... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:31:02 PM EST
    ...with regard to war is to prevent just this sort of indescriminate and excessive use of force. (warning: very graphic image)
    "It has never happened in history that a nation that has won a war has been held accountable for atrocities committed in preparing for and waging that war. We intend to make this one different. What took place was the use of technological material to destroy a defenseless country. From 125,000 to 300,000 people were killed... We recognize our role in history is to bring the transgressors to justice."

    ---Ramsey Clark

    what the nazis did was 'legal' ... (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:30:54 AM EST
    ... but they were still convicted at Nuremberg for following orders and not their conscience.

    no, what the nazis did wasn't legal (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:53:53 AM EST
    under the internationally recognized rules of war, the geneva conventions, etc. among other things, killing innocent civilians, who hadn't taken up arms against them, was a direct violation of the rules germany had agreed to abide by. why else do you think they went to such great lenghts to hide it?

    any german soldier, following orders to commit an illegal act, him/herself committed an illegal act. that's why the "just following orders" defense didn't work.

    was the pre-meditated, unprovoked invasion of iraq immoral? yes, i think so. was the reason given specious? yes, i think so. was the invasion illegal? beats me.

    congress passed legislation authorizing bush to take any action, including military, against iraq for its purported wmd's, and violation of various U.N. statutes. whether that was legal or not remains to be seen. if it turns out that all was known lies, by the bush administration, does that, in and of itself, make the invasion illegal? again, i haven't a clue.

    hopefully, the new congress will get to the bottom of it.


    exactly (none / 0) (#69)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:15:38 PM EST
    under the internationally recognized rules of war, the geneva conventions, etc. among other things, killing innocent civilians, who hadn't taken up arms against them, was a direct violation of the rules germany had agreed to abide by.
    The US violated the same rules.

    sailor (none / 0) (#98)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:15:34 PM EST
    unlike the nazis (i hope) we didn't do so intentionally. at least, not at the start. yes, i've no doubt there were civilian casualties, but they weren't the primary target (again, at least i hope not), military assets were. therein lies the difference between us and the nazis: they specifically targeted unarmed civilians, we didn't.

    unless, of course, you have proof to the contrary.


    sailor (1.00 / 1) (#48)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:47:27 AM EST
    if we loose this war you can rest assured that we will all be tried under Sharia law.

    "all" includes you, Sailor.


    Off topic troll post (none / 0) (#70)
    by Sailor on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:17:09 PM EST
    BTW, does anyone know why the rest of us get chastised for breaking rules that ppj violates on a daily (and in this thread multiple times) basis?

    Jim Jim Jim.... (none / 0) (#78)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:36:18 PM EST
    I love ya, I don't know why but I love ya...but please be serious.  

    You, me, Sailor I'm sure, and 99% of the people in the US would fight to the death before we allowed our govt. or a foreign power to impose Sharia Law.  So even on the trillion to one shot Sharia Law was imposed, 99% of us wouldn't be alive to see it.

    You feeling ok?


    kdog (none / 0) (#91)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:32:34 PM EST
    The problem is, you won't have an opportunity  to fight. Because if it comes to that, it will be too late. This is truly a culture war in which the enemy has stated they will use our freedoms against us. The real challenege is how we prevent that.

    Is that before or after the forced gay marriages? (none / 0) (#90)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:32:20 PM EST
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    scar (none / 0) (#93)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:45:52 PM EST
    Along with women, who are being killed routinely in Europe for violating the family's "honor," homosexuals and lesbians are not tolerated by the Moslem faith. Instead of forced marriages you would have forced executions. I am astonished at your comment. I would have thought you knew that.

    And of course all women are known to cause their rape, and for doing so they are hung.


    so, does that mean (none / 0) (#99)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:18:17 PM EST
    we'd have "friday night at the beheadings"? frankly, that would have to beat most of what's on tv on fridays these days. :)

    An American has responsibilities, FIRST. (1.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:10:28 AM EST
    You do not have a right to be in the military.

    When you are drafted you lose many rights under the force of law.

    When you join you loose many rights because you voluntered, and these are codified in US Code and the UCMJ.

    The reason this is so is multifaceted. Prime among them is that it is natural to decide that you don't want to go into a combat zone for a variety of reasons. Some:

    I don't want to get shot at.

    I think this war is illegal.

    I think the strategy is wrong.

    I think we don't have enough...troops...supplies..etc.

    Basically the Left's argument, designed to hurt the war effort, is that individual rights are more important than the responsibilities that the individual has.

    Of course failure to excercise responsibilites always lead to loss of rights, but since that is in the future, many in the "me generation" fail to see that.


    You've made it very clear (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:20:29 AM EST
    that you not only would have no problem with following orders you thought illegal, you would not even consider them illegitimate, and would abdicate all moral obligation in favor of blindly and automaton-like doing whatever you were told, as long as it came from someone with power over you.

    Very inspiring.


    I really do wonder (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:13:13 AM EST
    If Jim had been presiding at Nuremberg, would any of the Nazis have gone to the gallows? He's pretty clearly stating that orders trump reason and humanity. I wonder if that holds when the shoe is on the other foot.

    sacr (1.00 / 1) (#50)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:49:05 AM EST
    Since I wasn't there and since you have never served  it appears that your wondering is mental masturbation.

    Enjoyment without results.


    Actually (none / 0) (#44)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:21:04 AM EST
    He's probably hoping that they would take him under their wing with them on the way to Argentina, for being such a good boy.

    So you want to talk of morals. (1.00 / 2) (#46)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:37:26 AM EST
    Typical of you edger, you smear with no facts. Are you squeaky in disguise, or have you adopted squeaky's tactics?

    Posted by Squeaky at September 19, 2005 11:19 PM
    Rove never needed proof for his smear machine, why should I.

    But since you want to talk of morals....

    I would posit that until confronted, almost no one actually knows what they would do if they found themselves in a situation that said they must scarifice their principles, their very honor to survive. Do they have family and friends that will pay the price if they resist?

    Edger, talk is cheap and claims of glory are cheaper yet. Total moral behavior is a subject much discussed but rarely demonstrated. That was the knife that the Conserveratives tried to use on Clinton, but found it inept because too many others had sinned as he had and even they had sins of their own. If you accept minor sins, at what point will you say no?

    Millions of words have been written on this by better wordsmiths than you or me. But in this case, the issue is not the morality of the law, but of the legality of it.

    To say that he has the moral right to violate his oath is to assume that the oath was not moral, or somehow limited. Further it assumes that everyman is an island and always has the right to decide which laws he will obey. I will not go to war. But will I rob banks?? You may not do either, but do we know that your not being a bank robber is because some circumstance has not yet came forth that would justify robbery in your mind? Perhaps you need money for food, or for medical treatment... or for a new computer.

    What Lt Watadas has done is to refuse to go. He has missed movement. Because of that someone else went. Were they killed? Injured? How was their life altered because of Watadas' decision?

    I don't have the answer. But we do know that his actions impacted others. Perhaps that is why keeping your word and oath is considered so important in this world.

    And perhaps that is why we are not allowed to always judge ourselves, but must, from time to time, be judged by others.


    You make it even more clear (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Edger on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:40:59 AM EST
    by not even denying my evaluation of what you said.

    edger (1.00 / 2) (#54)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:56:27 AM EST
    You really have become dull.

    Not deny? What in the world do you think this was?

    Typical of you edger, you smear with no facts. Are you squeaky in disguise, or have you adopted squeaky's tactics?

    Posted by Squeaky at September 19, 2005 11:19 PM
    Rove never needed proof for his smear machine,  why should I.

    Edger, at one time you could debate. Has your hatred twisted you to the point that you can only insult.

    Read the comment, edger. I would be interested in your response to several points I made.

    I would especially like to know if you can state what laws/orders you would not follow, and certainity you would assign to your claim.

    I think your courage is of the "I spoke truth to power" variety while demonstrating against "x." (Your pick.)


    To (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:54:05 AM EST
    sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

    -Abraham Lincoln

    aw - You like quotations? (1.00 / 2) (#56)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:01:29 PM EST

    Quotations with no actions... what did Shakesphere say?

    .... full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..


    And you're still frightened of naked men (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:03:57 PM EST
    aw's fetish (1.00 / 1) (#66)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:04:24 PM EST
    Naw... they don't flick my bic much for me.

    You got a fetish for'em??


    I (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:37:49 PM EST
    like naked men just fine.  Is that a fetish in your book?

    Nope (1.00 / 1) (#94)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 07:49:03 PM EST
    Nope, not mine either.

    I was thinking of naked fat men in Knoxville...

    Or do you even remember the source of your snark?



    Thinking? Or Dreaming? (none / 0) (#97)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 10:20:31 PM EST
    I was thinking of naked fat men in Knoxville...

    Quotations with no actions (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 12:04:42 PM EST
    except by Lt. Watada

    Well, he cut and run (1.00 / 1) (#67)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 02:05:06 PM EST
    from serving.

    He didn't (none / 0) (#84)
    by aw on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:40:07 PM EST
    cut and run from his conscience.  I think it's pretty scary facing the full force of the US Government alone.

    Free Speech (none / 0) (#79)
    by Fredo on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 05:41:54 PM EST
    In 1993, several American naval officers wore T-shirts lewdly criticising Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder.  They were exercising free speech in a manner familiar to millions of Americans, and availed of by Americans daily as a matter of course.  Yet these officers were harshly punished for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    If there was a single sentence of protest leveled by a single American leftist, I am unaware of it.  If anyone can recall a left-wing defense of these men's freedom of speech, please give me a citation to that defense.  Otherwise, cool your hypocritical jets.

    probably not fredo (none / 0) (#100)
    by cpinva on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 11:21:10 PM EST
    but then, the congresswoman's actions weren't killing anyone. so i doubt too many people gave them much thought at all.