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Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Watada Case

Lt. Ehren Watada

A Mother Fights for a Soldier Who Said No to War

By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 4, 2007; Page C01

Carolyn Ho is a mother on a mission.

She came to Washington in mid-December to build support for her son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.

Barring some kind of miracle, he will be court-martialed on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis, about 45 miles south of Seattle. If convicted, he could be sent to military prison for six years. There's going to be a pretrial hearing today.

Like many Americans, she believed she could come to the capital city and change the world. Or at least her small part of it.

She was acting purely on instinct, wanting to do everything in a mother's power to protect her son. "I'm here to get what I can," said Ho, who is from Honolulu. Dark hair pulled back. Dark eyes that moisten when she speaks of her son. Soft voice. "I'm going to put it out there."

At the very least, she hoped for some kind of letter of support before today's hearing. Late yesterday afternoon, a letter arrived. After a lot of worry and work.

Lobbying Congress is no day at the spa.

During her Capitol Hill quest, she was accompanied by several seasoned lobbyists, but they let her do the talking. She moved along the halls, sitting down with staffers in the offices of Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and aides from the offices of Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

In closed-door meetings, Ho told the same story. She sees her efforts as part of a larger, multifaceted wave that is challenging the Bush administration from every angle. At the same time the president is advocating an increase in the number of soldiers in Iraq, there is on the home front an increase in the number of vocal opponents of the war. "I believe my son is part of this movement," Ho said.

I have mixed feeling about this case. Watada abandoned his men who were deployed to Iraq. He wasn't a private, he was an officer and they needed his leadership.

The vast majority or resisters have at least one combat tour under their belt.

On the other hand, his argument that the war is illegal is clearly a persuasive one. Not one which will past muster with a court martial, but persuasive. I hope they give him the minimum punishment, since not guilty is very unilikely

posted by Steve @ 1:30:00 AM

1:30:00 AM

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