Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Court-Martial Hearing for Watada Underway--Now Declared Mistrial

To my surprise it appears that the court-martial hearing for Lt. Ehren Watada will last only two or three days.

Watada is charged with refusing to obey an order to deploy to Iraq with his unit. Watada has publicly defended his actions by claiming that the order to deploy was illegal because the war itself is immoral and illegal.

One reason his hearing is expected to be so short is that his primary defense (the moral or legal status of the war) was held to be inadmissible.

Today's story also stated that a plea-bargain that would have sent Watada to prison for 18 months was turned down by the defense.

My guess is that it might have been a good thing to have agreed to that plea-bargain insofar as I cannot imagine him receiving a sentence of less than two years. He could be sentenced to as much as 4-years in prison with a dishonorable discharge.

I have previously offered my opinion on the case in a post, Lt. Ehren Watada's Court Martial.

UPDATE: The hearing has been declared a mistrial on the grounds that Watada may did not intend to admit guilt when he signed a document refusing to obey the order to deploy. Assuming the trial reconvenes in mid-March as the Judge has recommended, it may be that Watada will be allowed to present his reasons for believing the order to deploy was illegal and that he was morally and legally obligated to disobey that order.

It would then need to be determined as to whether the U.S. Military's presence in Iraq was legal or not in order to either vidicate or convict Watada. I cannot imagine such a matter to be within the pervue of a military court-martial hearing. How this will be resolved within the military justice system I have no idea.

Even so, as one who supports the role of conscience in all areas of our lives I am glad that this aspect of Watada's defense will be given a hearing. I believe it is his right. Regardless, of course, he should still be held responsible for his decision.