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Rockland Green to attend Watada Court Martial

RCP&J Peace Vigil Observes Court Martial of Lt. Ehren Watada

& Sends off David Mitchell to Witness Watada’s Trial

The Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice (RCP&J) has held a peace vigil in opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq in Nanuet every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for over four years. RCP&J demonstrates to inform and rally Rocklanders against this illegal, immoral and unnecessary war and the attendant deaths and other horrors in violation of International Law & our own Constitution. Last Saturday, while 46 vigiled in Nanuet, other Rocklanders (including two busloads) traveled to join a march at the Capitol in Wash., D.C. to demand that the new Congress implement public sentiment to end the war.

This coming Saturday, February 3rd, RCP&J again will show its support for Lt. Ehren Watada, whose court martial begins Monday, February 5th at Fort Lewis Army base in Washington state. Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse an order to deploy to Iraq. Lt. Watada argues that the war and occupation in Iraq and its conduct are illegal and immoral; and, therefore, his deployment order also is illegal. This creates (in addition to the demands of his own conscience) a legal obligation for him individually to resist under the principles and precedents of individual guilt and responsibility established in the Nuremberg Trials by which we tried the Germans after World War II. Lt. Watada is not seeking just an individual exemption based on conscience, although that would be a courageous and admirable position in itself. He is attempting to put the war itself on trial. In preliminary rulings the Court has ruled the legality of the war and deployment order a “political question” that cannot be raised in Lt. Watada’s defense. However, Lt. Watada’s stand and court martial is creating a powerful forum against the war.

David Mitchell, a member of the Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, will be traveling to Fort Lewis, WA, to stand in solidarity with Lt. Watada and his family. Forty years ago David Mitchell was imprisoned for his resistance to the draft during the Vietnam War on the grounds that it was aggressive, immoral and illegal in violation of International Law and the U.S. Constitution. The courts in David Mitchell’s case, as in Lt. Ehren Watada’s case today, held that arguments about the legality of the war and its conduct were “irrelevant. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas dissented and wrote that these issues should be addressed — especially since the Nuremberg precedent “purports to lay down a standard of future conduct for all the signatories.” Douglas also noted that, according to the Nuremberg precedents, “waging of a war of aggression’ is a ‘crime against peace’ imposing ‘individual responsibility.”

As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson (the leading U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg) had stated:

If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Lt. Watada states:I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America’s laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war. I fulfill that oath today.”


[Editor’s note:  David Mitchell is a State Committeeperson to the Green Party of the New York State.]

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