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ALERT! New trial for Lt. Watada 10/9/07!

from Veterans for Peace chapter 69, Watada Support Committee San Francisco

Dear folks,

The Army is threatening to go ahead with a new court of martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada on Oct. 9th. This is in gross violation of law and the Constitution, because his lawyers have appealed against a second trial on the basis of double jeopardy. For quite some time, Ehren’s lawyers were proceeding on the assumption that since the appeal is in progress in the court system, the Army would cancel or postpone the Oct. 9th court martial. But now it is only a week and a couple of days away, and nothing has been cancelled or postponed. The trial is looking very much like it is on, yet nothing has been confirmed one way or the other.

If the court martial is indeed going to happen, we need all the help we can get! We need all our friends and allies around the country to hold teach-ins, demonstrations, press conferences (if you have lawyers who can address the double jeopardy issue, please have them speak), write letters to the editors, anything you can do, on the weekend prior to Oct. 9 and/or on the day of. Anyone who can to come to Ft. Lewis and support Ehren in this critical moment, please come.

The catch here is that the Army has us set up: If we mobilize in a big way and they postpone the trial, we may look foolish if we don’t frame it right. On the other hand, if we don’t mobilize and the court martial occurs, Ehren can be railroaded while his supporters are caught sleeping. Either way, this looks like a perfect ambush by the Army.

However, the primary legal point here is the fact that an appeal on the basis of double jeopardy, guaranteed in the Constitution, is under attack. If we mobilize around this basic point, then we are proved right no matter what happens. Even if they postpone the court martial at the last minute, the question would remain: Why did they wait so long? By not canceling the court martial immediately when the appeal on double jeopardy was filed, they were attempting to erode the core Constitutional principle of double jeopardy. In that case, if they postpone or cancel the court martial at the last minute, we can rightfully claim a victory. If they proceed with the court martial, we rightfully voice our outrage. By simply speaking the truth to their power, we turn their ambush on it’s head.

Let me provide some background here. In pre-trial motions, the Army judge, Lt. Col. Head (the same judge who lied and forced a mistrial when things didn’t go the Army’s way in the first trial), said that double jeopardy didn’t apply because they have ³³different rules²² in the Army. When Ehren’s lawyers cited specific Army regulations and case law that proved double jeopardy does apply in the Army, the judge simply rejected the facts out of hand. The entire pre-trial motions were very scripted and controlled by the judge, who told the prosecution what to say and limited what the defense lawyers were allowed to say. The appeal is still in process and there are several layers of appeal yet to be exhausted before the appeal has run it’s course. It is clearly illegal and unconstitutional to hold a trial until the question of double jeopardy is finally resolved – but the Army is doing it. It appears that Ehren is about to be railroaded by a kangaroo court in which the whole proceeding will be very controlled and scripted and the outcome pre-determined. After they ³³convict²² Ehren and put him in prison, perhaps the Army will then say that since he’s been convicted and imprisoned, the appeal is irrelevant and invalid. This is what is going down.

Ehren’s parents, Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi, and Carolyn Ho will be going up to Ft. Lewis for the court martial. So will folks from the San Francisco Bay Area including myself. Anyone who can, please join us! For those who can’t, please organize some event in your local area to publicize this issue. Thanks very, very much.

I apologize for this extremely late notice. Ehren has been prevented from communicating anything of substance to any organizers because of heavy military surveillance, and this came to our attention only now. As you can imagine, there have been frantic discussions since then. Plans are being thrown together at the last minute, and as of now I can’t tell you exactly what will happen or what plans different peace groups might develop. Basically we are all flying by the seat of our pants and I would say to everyone everywhere, just do whatever the hell you can do with whomever is willing to do it with you. Please circulate this email widely among peace activists, thanks.

Michael Wong
Veterans for Peace chapter 69
Watada Support Committee San Francisco
mlwong@jps.net

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