A federal judge has blocked the Army from conducting a second court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada of Honolulu, an Iraq war objector based at Fort Lewis, Wash., saying it’s likely the second trial would violate his constitutional rights.
“This is an enormous victory, but it is not yet over,” Kenneth Kagan, one of Watada’s attorneys, said in a written statement.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle ruled yesterday that no court-martial will be held for Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, pending the outcome of his claim that it would violate his Fifth Amendment rights by trying him twice for the same charges.
Watada’s first court-martial ended in a mistrial in February. Settle wrote that the military judge likely abused his discretion in declaring the mistrial.
It ain't over, but it is looking better for the soldier that followed his conscience.
The younger Watada is charged with missing his Stryker brigade’s deployment to Iraq in June 2006 and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war, saying it was illegal and unjust.
Watada, 29, had said he would be a party to war crimes if he served in Iraq. The Army refused his request to resign or be posted in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
Can't say that I blame him given that we already know that the invasion of Iraq was illegal.