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Watada’s pre-trial hearing for court martial begins today

January 4th, 2007 No comments

Back in June 1st Lieutenant Watada (Army) publicly refused to deploy to Iraq for the Iraq War, saying that he believed the war to be illegal and that it would make him party to war crimes. His court martial is set to begin in February, but the pre-trial hearing begins today.

Recently, journalist Kevin Sites attempted to understand Watada’s decision in a phone interview. Below is an except in which Watada discusses the punishment he faces in his court martial:

SITES: Tell me about the repercussions you face in this court martial.

WATADA: Well I think with the charges that have been applied to me and referred over to a general court martial, I’m facing six years maximum confinement, dishonorable discharge from the army, and loss of all pay and allowances.

STES: Are you ready to deal with all those consequences with this decision?

WATADA: Sure, and I think that’s the decision that I made almost a year ago, in January, when I submitted my original letter of resignation. I knew that possibly some of the things that I stated in that letter, including my own beliefs, that there were repercussions from that. Yet I felt it was a sacrifice, and it was a necessary sacrifice, to make. And I feel the same today.

I think that there are many supporters out there who feel that I should not be made an example of, that I’m speaking out for what a lot of Americans are increasingly becoming aware of: that the war is illegal and immoral and it must be stopped. And that the military should not make an example or punish me severely for that.

Transcript from the Hot Zone Team

I am not one of those supporters. I think that the 1st Lieutenant should take responsibility for what he has done, and accept his punishment.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Doesn’t Work?

January 3rd, 2007 No comments

A Zogby Poll from last month supposedly indicates a shift in military attitudes concerning the longstanding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Some interesting statistics from the poll:

. . . Of those in combat units, 21% said they know for certain that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian, slightly less than for those in combat support units (25%) and combat service support units (22%). One in five troops (20%) in other units said they know for certain someone is gay or lesbian in their unit. Overall, nearly half (45%) say there are people in their unit they suspect are gay or lesbian, but they don’t know for sure. Slightly more than half (52%) say they have received training on the prevention of anti-gay harassment in the past three years. But 40% say they have not received this type of training, which is mandated by Defense Department policy . . .

General Shalikashvili (retired, Army) shares his opinions on gays in the military in yesterday’s NY Times:

. . . I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

But if America is ready for a military policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, the timing of the change should be carefully considered. As the 110th Congress opens for business, some of its most urgent priorities, like developing a more effective strategy in Iraq, share widespread support that spans political affiliations. Addressing such issues could help heal the divisions that cleave our country. Fighting early in this Congress to lift the ban on openly gay service members is not likely to add to that healing, and it risks alienating people whose support is needed to get this country on the right track . . .

Categories: Marines, Media Tags:

Every U.S. military branch exceeds its 2006 reenlistment goals

January 3rd, 2007 No comments

Buried at number 8 on Time Magazine’s Top 10 list of underreported stories of 2006:

MORE U.S. TROOPS WILLING TO REENLIST
While there was much talk about the Army raising the maximum age for new recruits from 35 to 42, the lesser-known development is that the Pentagon managed not only to meet, but to exceed its 2006 reenlistment goals for every branch of the military. Most significantly, the Army met its retention goal of 64,200 in August, with two months to spare before the end of the fiscal year. Another surprising sign of the times: by mid-October, the Marine Corps had received 3,870 re-enlistment applications and thus was on its way to meeting 63% of its annual retention goal less than two weeks into the new fiscal year.

Read more of Time’s Top Ten lists.

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From Father to Son, Last Words to Live By (NY Times)

January 2nd, 2007 No comments

This article was written by the fiancé of First Sgt. Charles Monroe King. First Sgt. King was killed by an IED in October.

He drew pictures of himself with angel wings. He left a set of his dog tags on a nightstand in my Manhattan apartment. He bought a tiny blue sweat suit for our baby to wear home from the hospital.

Then he began to write what would become a 200-page journal for our son, in case he did not make it back from the desert in Iraq.

For months before my fiancé, First Sgt. Charles Monroe King, kissed my swollen stomach and said goodbye, he had been preparing for the beginning of the life we had created and for the end of his own.

He boarded a plane in December 2005 with two missions, really — to lead his young soldiers in combat and to prepare our boy for a life without him.

Continue reading article on nytimes.com.

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Disabled vet sues Michael Moore

June 1st, 2006 No comments

Article from Reuters by Jason Szep.

A U.S. war veteran who lost both arms in Iraq has sued Oscar-winning director Michael Moore for $85 million, saying television clips were used without his permission in the anti-war documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” and gave a false impression that he opposed the war.

Sgt. Peter Damon, 33, a supporter of President George W. Bush and the Iraq war, claims Moore misused the footage to portray him “in a false light” and as “disagreeing with the president about the war effort and as disagreeing with the war effort itself.”

“It was kind of almost like the enemy was using me for propaganda. What soldier wants to be involved in that?” Damon told CBS’s local television news affiliate. “I didn’t lose my arms over there to come back and be used as ammunition against my commander-in-chief.”

In a suit that also names Miramax Films Corp. and several other film companies, Damon says Moore never sought his consent for using segments of an NBC Nightly News interview with Damon while he was in hospital.

According to the complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston and obtained by Reuters on Thursday, Damon is seeking damages for “loss of reputation, emotional distress, embarrassment, and personal humiliation.”

Damon said he felt betrayed by the filmmaker, whose “Fahrenheit 9/11” won the top prize at the Cannes film festival and was the highest-grossing documentary ever at nearly $120 million.

. . .

In an interview in front of his house, Damon told local CBS television: “The original idea was supposed to be something positive about the treatment we were receiving … not something to be used in a story talking about veterans being left behind because as you can see behind me I’m the last person who can say I am being left behind,” he said, gesturing to his home.

Damon is seeking $75 million in damages, while his wife is seeking another $10 million due to “mental distress and anguish” suffered by her husband because of the film. He said he would donate the money to veteran’s groups.

Michael Moore

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