Judge bars retrial for Lt. Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq
By Mark Jensen, UFPPC. October 22, 2008
A federal judge said Tuesday that Lt. Erhen Watada cannot be retried on the most serious charges against him, because he is protected by the U.S. Constitution's ban on double jeopardy, the Associated Press reported.
Lt. Watada refused to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 on the grounds that the Iraq war is illegal, and his U.S. Army court-martial in February 2007 ended in a mistrial.
Hal Bernton of the *Seattle Times* noted that Lt. Watada still works at Fort Lewis and is stuck in a "legal limbo" that will apparently continue for some time, since "[t]he judge kicked back to the military trial court for further consideration two other conduct unbecoming an officer charges against Watada, opening the door to further court proceedings. Both of those charges involve public interviews Watada gave to reporters, and were conditionally dismissed as part of a pretrial agreement.
Settle said the military court should consider whether there are 'constitutional defects' to retrying Watada on those charges before a civil court does."
On Tuesday, one of Lt. Watada's attorney's, James Lobsenz, said: "We're happy, but it's too early to know what else might happen. It's highly likely (the Army) will appeal the judge's decision."
The *Honolulu Advertiser* reported that Bob Watada, a former Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission executive director who is Lt. Watada's father, fears that the Army might appeal the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney in the February 2007 court-martial, told the paper that "theoretically, hypothetically [the other two charges] can be brought back, but I think there's going to be lots of problems. I don't think they can bring those back, either."
Seitz told the *Honolulu Star-Bulletin*: "They ought to let him resign. They aren't going to win this and they ought to acknowledge that."