Court: Army Deserter Ehren Watada Cannot Be Retried Following Mistrial

Lieutenant Watada refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 because he foolishly and ignorantly believes the Iraq war is illegal. He was charged for missing movement and conduct unbecoming. That trial ended in February 2007 after the judge declared a mistrial.

The case fell apart when it turned out that Watada had stipulated that he did not deploy with his unit as ordered and that he gave interviews without authorization. In the military judge’s view, Watada hadn’t realized the legal consequences of the stipulations, since they largely amounted to admitting the charges. The prosecution had already rested, but their case relied in large part on the stipulations which the military judge wanted to strike. The military judge decided that the best thing to do was declare a mistrial and start over.

Today, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle said the military could not retry Watada. Settle held that the military judge “did not exercise sound discretion” in ruling a mistrial. Accordingly, subjecting Watada to a second trial would violate his Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy.

Watada is a bit of a figurehead for the Left, since he was the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. The military is considering its options. It may go ahead with just the conduct unbecoming charges or appeal the district court’s decision or both.

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~ by Gabriel Malor on October 21, 2008.

3 Responses to “Court: Army Deserter Ehren Watada Cannot Be Retried Following Mistrial”

  1. HAAHAHA “he foolishly and ignorantly believes the Iraq war is illegal” OK cuss…here’s the gauntlet….now the burden of proof is on you. Prove to me that the invasion of iraq was legal. Let’s see how you play it. I think you can’t do it, but i will be willing to listen to your logic. C’mon big guy. Here’s your chance.

  2. wes, dropping into a post two months later demanding proof is usually going to get you a big ball of nothing, but since it’s Christmas, I’ll point you in the right direction.

    The War in Iraq was authorized by Congress in the AUMF 2002. From an American standpoint, that is all that it takes to make it legal. The occupation of Iraq was subsequently upheld at the U.N. Thus, the war was legal.

    If Watada wanted to show that it was not legal, he would somehow have to prove that Congress’s authorization for the use of force was somehow substantively or procedurally improper. Obviously, he can’t.

  3. Attempts to impugn a serving officer’s character reveal an anti-military as well as an ideological bias, even if the writer intends to “support” the military. Lt. Watada has not deserted to date; he is still reporting for duty, in the Army, at Ft. Lewis, WA. His superiors, unwilling to consider his legal arguement, have simply continued his service beyond the contract date.

    Look into Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. If Congress authorizes a violation of international law, then Congress itself is in violation of its own charter. If misled into the authorization by the Executive Branch, the Executive committing this crime against peace would logically be liable for violation of both Article Six and the Senate’s treaties with foreign powers under international law.

    Focusing on a narrow national ideological interpretation of duty helped the German Army descend into the very conditions which led to definition of official culpability. Lt. Watada understood this, did his duty by refusing movement, and continues to do his duty by reporting to the sideline desk he is being punished with for non-conformity to the unofficial code of ignorance.

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