AUDIO FILE: Local Interview With Lt. Ehren Watada
A 10 minute interview with Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publically refuse Iraq War deployment. This interview was conducted by Courtney Scott when Lt. Watada was in Portland last Saturday, June 17, 2006.|
Lt. Watada joined the army in March of 2003, believing Bush administration claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Sadaam had strong ties to Al Queda and 911 He received his officers commission in December of the same year, served a year in Korea, and upon being redeployed back to the U.S., was informed that he would be deployed to Iraq within a year.|
"At that time when I joined up I had no reason to believe that our leaders, the government, the administration would betray the trust of the people........I felt that it was my responsibility as an officer to find out everything I could about war in general in order to better prepare my troops and train them for combat deployment. I also began reading a whole broadbase of articles on the Iraq war on what was going on there at the time and what has led us up to that point. What I found was deeply shocking, not only as a person but also as a member of the military......learning that the administration had betrayed the trust of the people, had deceived us into going into this war that was totally unnecessary and unrelated to the war on terrorism."
Watadas reaction was one of shame, "knowing that our government was doing this in our name. I had to come to a decision on what I was going to do; inside I was in a lot of turmoil. On one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, going over to Iraq and fight."
"On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenous insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many loves were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, so many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
"So, I came to the point to where I believed as a person, not only as a human being, not only as a citizen of this country, but as a member of the military, that I could make a difference in helping to end this illegal war."
Watada first submitted a letter of resignation, giving the military the option to permit him to leave quietly, based on his convictions. They refused to do that. "They said it doesn't matter what your moral beliefs are or what your ideological beliefs, your commander in chief has commanded you to go and you're going to come and fight with us. You really have no choice in the matter."
I felt that I can better serve my soldiers under me, and all soldiers and all members of the military by speaking out against this administration in order to hold them accountable because if we don't, if we stand silent, as Americans, as members of the military, we give those who orchestrated this war leave to do the same, to commit more illegal acts, to violate more of our laws all in our name and to the detriment of our society and to the world."
And so now, June 22, 2006, Watada is restricted to base at Fort Lewis Washington. and forbidden to have any communication with non military personnel. A large amount of support for him is growing and a rally is planned for Tuesday, June 27 at the bridge over the freeway at exit 119, just outside Fort Lewis, from 4-6 pm.
It appears that Lt. Ehren Watada has a choice after all, and he is exercising that choice, in the face of gigantic repercussions. He finishes this interview by exhorting others to follow his lead and stand up for their convictions. "To whoever is watching this, the time has come to really stand up and sacrifice something to insure that true Democracy and true freedom are upheld within our own country. I would challenge anybody; I'm sacrificing my freedom, am willing to go to prisona nd be hated by millions for my beliefs and what I believe in this country, and what we all hold as our beliefs as Americans.....What are you willing to sacrifice."
Two websites about this courageous stand:
Courage To Resist
Thank You Lt
Many thanks to Courtney Scott for producing this interview. This file is 10 minutes in length.
Lt. Ehren Watada, RealPlayer
Lt. Ehren Watada, MP3
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