Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know what I think about Lt. Ehren Watada and his refusal to deploy with his unit to Iraq. In case you need a refresher on my opinion, you can go HERE or HERE.
Yesterday, Yahoo! Hot Zone reporter Kevin Sites recently spoke with Lt. Watada as he hung out at home in Hawaii (mind you, this is while my husband and many other thousands of service men and women are currently deployed to the middle east, regardless of their views on the war in Iraq.)
KEVIN SITES: Now, you joined the Army right after the US was invading Iraq and now you're refusing to go. Some critics might look at this as somewhat disingenuous. You've taken an oath, received training but now you won't fight. Can you explain your rationale behind this?
EHREN WATADA: Sure. I think that in March of 2003 when I joined up, I, like many Americans, believed the administration when they said the threat from Iraq was imminent — that there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout Iraq; that there were stockpiles of it; and because of
Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist acts, the threat was imminent and we needed to invade that country immediately in order to neutralize that threat.
Since then I think I, as many, many Americans are realizing, that those justifications were intentionally falsified in order to fit a policy established long before 9/11 of just toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and setting up an American presence in Iraq.
Bullshit. I've said it before and I'll say it again. There were WMDs in Iraq. Were they there after we waited around with our thumbs up our butts for months on end while the UN pondered its belly button? Hell no. They are now most likely in Syria (or, if Saddam was really the psycho nutjob that I think he was, they may even be over in Tehran...). But I firmly believe that Iraq had WMDs AFTER Desert Storm and before our 2003 invasion.
Were the reports falsified? No. Show me one instance in which falsification has been proven beyond a doubt. Was there a policy to topple Saddam prior to 9/11?? Good God, I hope so. We should have done it right the FIRST time around back in '91 but we couldn't find the spine to do it right back then.
SITES: Tell me how those views evolved. How did you come to that conclusion?
WATADA: I think the facts are out there, they're not difficult to find, they just take a little bit of willingness and interest on behalf of anyone who is willing to seek out the truth and find the facts. All of it is in the mainstream media. But it is quickly buried and it is quickly hidden by other events that come and go. And all it takes is a little bit of logical reasoning. The Iraq Survey Group came out and said there were no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and during 2003. The 9/11 Commission came out and said there were no ties with Iraq to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. The president himself came out and said that nobody in his administration ever suggested that there was a link.
And yet those ties to al-Qaeda and the weapons of mass destruction were strongly suggested. They said there was no doubt there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout 2002, 2003 and even 2004. So, they came out and they say this, and yet they say it was bad intelligence, not manipulated intelligence, that was the problem. And then you have veteran members of the CIA that come out and say, "No. It was manipulated intelligence. We told them there was no WMD. We told them there were no ties to al-Qaeda. And they said that that's not what they wanted to hear."
It's all in the mainstream media?!? HA!! So was the report that they had found that missing jetliner in Indonesia and that 12 people had survived. Just because it exists in the MSM doesn't make it true.
The intelligence that we had at the time was the intelligence we went with. Of COURSE the CIA is going to try to cover its ass. The fact is that our intelligence abilities in the middle east have been weak, at best, since the 1970s.
Yes, it would have been great had we stumbled across a big warehouse full of mustard gas, anthrax, and Furbys all tied up with a big red bow on top. But we didn't. Does that mean that WMDs were not in the possession of Saddam Hussein at any time prior to 2003? Um, no. It just means the crazy (and very DEAD) SOB was good at hiding them.
Does that give Lt. Watada permission to refuse to deploy with his unit? Um, no. Sorry Ehren.
SITES: Do you think that you could have determined some of this information prior to joining the military — if a lot of it, as you say, was out there? There were questions going into the war whether WMD existed or not, and you seemingly accepted the administration's explanation for that. Why did you do that at that point?
WATADA: Certainly yeah, there was other information out there that I could have sought out. But I put my trust in our leaders in government.
SITES: Was there a turning point for you when you actually decided that this was definitely an illegal war?
WATADA: Certainly. I think that when we take an oath we, as soldiers and officers, swear to protect the constitution — with our lives as necessary — and those constitutional values and laws that make us free and make us a democracy. And when we have one branch of government that intentionally deceives another branch of government in order to authorize war, and intentionally deceives the people in order to gain that public support, that is a grave breach of our constitutional values, our laws, our checks and balances, and separation of power.
SITES: But Lieutenant, was there one specific incident that happened in Iraq or that the administration had said or done at a certain period that [made you say] "I have to examine this more closely"?
WATADA: No, I think that certainly as the war went on, and it was not going well, doubts came up in my mind, but at that point I still was willing to go. At one point I even volunteered to go to Iraq with any unit that was short of junior officers.
SITES: At what point was that?
WATADA: This was in September of 2005. But as soon as I found out, and as I began to read and research more and more that the administration had intentionally deceived the public and Congress over the reasons for going to Iraq, that's when I told myself "there's something wrong here."
Buyers' remorse. Lovely. He's refusing to deploy because he had second thoughts. You know, I'm actually glad he's NOT over there with my husband. What a lousy, worthless liability he would have been. Lily-livered. That's the best description I can come up with. Pathetic. And he didn't really start to doubt things until "it wasn't going well." Ah, a fair-weather soldier. Gotta love those.
SITES: You've said that you had a responsibility to your own conscience in this particular situation. Did you also have a responsibility to your unit as well? I just want to read you a quote from Veterans of Foreign Wars communications director Jerry Newbury. He said "[Lt. Watada] has an obligation to fulfill, and it's not up to the individual officer to decide when he's going to deploy or not deploy. Some other officer will have to go in his place. He needs to think about that." Can you react to that quote?
WATADA: You know, what I'm doing is for the soldiers. I'm trying to end something that is criminal, something that should not have been started in the first place and something that is making America less safe — and that is the Iraq war. By just going there and being willing to participate, and doing my job, or whatever I'm told to do — which actually exacerbates the situation and makes it worse — I would not be serving the best interest of this country, nor the soldiers that I'm serving with. What I'm trying to do is end something, as I said, that's illegal, and immoral, so that all the soldiers can come home and this tragedy can come to an end.
It seems like people and critics make this distinction between an order to deploy and any other order, as if the order to deploy is just something that's beyond any other order. Orders have to be determined on whether they're legal or not. And if the order to deploy to a war that is unlawful, if that is given, then that order itself is unlawful.
Refusing to do your JOB is not doing anything for the soldiers. It is self-serving and cowardly. Neither of which helps our soldiers or the war effort in any way, shape, or form. If the order itself was unlawful or illegal, there are channels through which the complaint must go. The MSM is not one of those channels.
SITES: Do you think that you made a mistake in joining the military? Your mother and father support you in this decision, and your father during the Vietnam War refused to go to Vietnam as well, but instead joined the Peace Corps. He went to his draft board and said, "let me join the Peace Corps and serve in Peru," which is what he did. Do you think in hindsight that that might have been a better decision for you as well?
WATADA: You know I think that John Murtha came out a few months ago in an interview and he was asked if, with all his experience, in Korea, and Vietnam, volunteering for those wars -- he was asked if he would join the military today. And he said absolutely not. And I think that with the knowledge that I have now, I agree. I would not join the military because I would be forced into a position where I would be ordered to do something that is wrong. It is illegal and immoral. And I would be put into a situation as a soldier to be abused and misused by those in power.
STIES: In your speech in front of the Veterans for Peace you said "the oath we take as soldiers swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people." Can you expand upon that a little bit — what did you mean when you said that?
WATADA: The constitution was established, and our laws are established, to protect human rights, to protect equal rights and constitutional civil liberties. And I think we have people in power who say that those laws, or those principles, do not apply to them — that they are above the law and can do whatever it takes to manipulate or create laws that enable them to do whatever they please. And that is a danger in our country, and I think the war in Iraq is just one symptom of this agenda. And I think as soldiers, as American people, we need to recognize this, and we need to put a stop to it before it's too late.
While the Constitution is designed to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity", there is nothing in that document that has been found to prove this war illegal. And Congress sure as hell isn't going to do that - the majority of them voted FOR the war in the first place (well, except Jawn Kary who voted for it before he voted against it...or something...). To actually believe that this war is illegal (which, in my uneducated opinion, it is most definitely NOT) would mean that every servicemember who has participated in any part of OIF would be a war criminal.
Hmm...I don't think so.
What this comes down to is the fact that Lt. Ehren Watada is a coward with an agenda. Just like his daddy before him. The lineage is steeped in cowardice.
Yes, this war is ugly. Yes men and women, American and Iraqi, are dying and being injured. Yes, it is a tough road to navigate and it can be murky at times. But deposing Saddam was the RIGHT thing to do. About 12 years too late but still the right thing to do. And I guarantee that, had we not and Saddam had gone on to cause problems, the people out on the streets of Honolulu today waving signs that urge support for Lt. Watada would be the ones wailing the LOUDEST that the United States should have done something to stop that madman before he had a chance to cause problems.
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.