Raw Story » Justice Dept. drops case against war resister Watada
By Stephen C. Webster
Published: May 6, 2009
Updated 1 day ago
The Department of Justice has dropped its case against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a war resister who refused Iraq deployment in June 2006 and denounced President George W. Bush’s decision to invade as illegal and immoral.
In Feb. 2007, military judge Lieutenant Colonel John Head halted Watada’s case following possible inconsistencies concerning a “stipulation of fact” agreed before the hearing. The decision led to a mistrial, ending Watada’s court martial. The Army appealed, but a judge said Watada could not be tried again on the same charges, as it would violate his right to be free of double jeopardy.
The Justice Department is dropping its appeal of that judge’s decision.
“Because there are no longer any criminal charges pending against Lt. Watada, and because (his) military service has been extended far beyond his normal release date, he anticipates that he will soon be released from active duty,” Watada’s attorney, James Lobsenz, said in a media advisory published Wednesday. “He plans to return to civilian life and to attend law school.”
“Settle set aside two specifications of the same charge — conduct unbecoming an officer — which stemmed from public statements Watada made against the war and President Bush,” reported Vanessah Ho for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“Settle left the door open for the United States to pursue those charges later. Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek said he did not know if the Department of Justice intended to refile those charges.”
One of the charges was filed for statements Watada made during the 2006 convention of Veterans for Peace, held in Seattle.