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1,000 rally for Lt. Watada at Fort Lewis during court martial
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist (jeff [at] paterson.net)
Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
Over a thousand people and giant puppets rallied at the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington today in support of Lt. Ehren Watada on the first day of his court martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
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Courage to Resist. February 5, 2007

Over a thousand people and giant puppets rallied at the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington today in support of Lt. Ehren Watada. Formed for the occasion, the “Tacoma Puppetistas” visually dominated the mass rally by putting the war on trial via huge puppet theater. Meanwhile Iraq Veterans Against the War and families of military resisters led chants and marches from rallies in a nearby park to the base gates.

Helga Aguayo, with her two daughters and mother-in-law at her side, spoke of her husband Agustin’s three year battle with the Army for a conscientious objector discharge—only to then be forced to refuse to return to Iraq for a second deployment. Spc. Aguayo is now facing seven years imprisonment at a upcoming March 6 court martial for desertion.

On Fort Lewis, supporters of Lt. Watada lined up at the visitors station beginning at 5:00 am in order to gain entry to the court proceedings. Many were turned away, but about 50 civilians were eventually allowed to view the proceedings from a viewing room with an audio/video feed.

As Lt. Watada’s mother Carolyn Ho entered the legal building at 8:30 am, dozens of supporters, lined up across the street, erupted into cheers. This is probably not something that happens on Fort Lewis often.

The morning proceedings covered numerous defense motions, including a few related to what the military judge Lt. Col. John Head despairingly referred to as the “Nuremberg Defense.” All motions, “DENIED,” cause: irrelevant.

All defense witnesses, with the possible exception of a West Point instructor, were also systematically denied by Judge Head. Witnesses denied by the judge included Richard Falk, Professor of International Law and Practise, Princeton University; Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights; former UN Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, and outspoken Iraq War critic General Newbold.

Lt. Watada’s civilian defense lawyer Eric Seitz explained that all of these witnesses were required to defend his client against the two remaining charges of “conduct unbecoming and officer and a gentleman,” charges based on his speech to the Veterans for Peace National Convention last year in Seattle and his initial June 7th pre-recorded video statement.

In rejecting all of these witnesses, Judge John Head in an Orwellian twist of logic explained that Lt. Watada is not on trial for his speech, although that is what is laid out in the charges against him. Lt. Watada is actually on trial for his conduct (presumably in uttering the statements that appear on the charge sheet).

Under this premise, Lt. Watada can not then attempt to defend himself by proving that the words he spoke were in deed factual. According to Judge Head, allowing these witnesses would only “confuse the issues at trial.” When Eric Seitz attempted to vigorously object, Judge Head requested he “leave the dramatics at the courtroom door.”

During the afternoon “jury” selection, an Army officer who treats returning Iraq War veterans for PTSD was asked what he thought of Lt. Watada. He replied that he was “impressed” with what he knew of him. Judge Head asked if he meant that he was “surprised” by Lt. Watada’s public statements. No, he was “impressed.” Juror dismissed.

At the end of the day, a panel of seven career military officers was seated to act as a jury of Lt. Watada’s peers. The court will begin hearing evidence in U.S. v. Watada tomorrow, Tuesday morning. At this rate, the trial is expected to last through Wednesday or Thursday. Courage to Resist and other supporters of Lt. Watada will gather at the I-5 Exit 119 overpass at 4:00 pm every evening through the end of the trial.
§Recent Air Force Iraq War vets
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Lt. Watada supporters line I-5 overpass thru the day
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Courage to Resist
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§"Enough is Enough"
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Aguayo family demands Agustin's freedom. Spc. Aguayo faces court martial 3/6
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§"US Out of Iraq Now"
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§"Dignity"
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§"Bush is Guilty," Watada is not
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Perp walk at Fort Lewis gate
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Officers of the peace
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Doves
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Guilt for Watada
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§People's judge
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Restricted
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Lt. Watada haters
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Mr. Arredondo reminds everyone of his son killed in Iraq. He supports Lt. Watada.
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§Hundreds head for Fort Lewis gates from park rally
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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§"Refuse Illegal War"
by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Tuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:56 AM
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Free Watada -U.S./Nato out of Iraq and AfghanistanSean Dolan Wednesday Feb 7th, 2007 10:55 AM
I hate Bush!ShawnTuesday Feb 6th, 2007 2:11 PM

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