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Watada Charged for refusing to go to Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 06, 2006

As I mentioned in my previous post about this case (actually I mentioned it in the comments), Watada has been charged with violations of the UCMJ which have nothing to do with his reasons for refusing to go to Iraq. One was expected: missing movement.

The other two apparently have come as a surprise to both Watada and his attorney:
Watada's lawyer said he expected the missing movement charge, but was somewhat surprised by the decision to charge the officer with contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer, because it raises free speech issues.

"What he said about the war and the way the war began and the misrepresentations by the Bush administration are all true. Not only does he have a right to make those statements, he has an obligation to make those statements," said Eric Seitz, Watada's Honolulu-based attorney.

"The reasons why they are going after him for the things he said is because they want to muzzle him," Seitz said.
Not really. As I used to tell my troops when I was a company commander, "we're here to defend democracy, but this isn't a democracy and don't ever be dumb enought to think it is". The military in general and the UCMJ specifically has a completely different concept of what is and isn't permissible speech. It's good to know that if you choose to make the military your life.

My guess is Watada was told to keep quiet and wait for his Court Martial to have his say. My further guess, based on what he has said in the interim, is he left the Army with little choice but to charge him for what he said (or more correctly, how he said it). Article 88 of the UCMJ:
Sec. 888. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
As you can clearly see, the UCMJ does not find it to be a free-speech issue at all. And believing what you say to be true really has no relevance as to whether the speech was contemptuous toward officials. Of course, it almost goes without saying that if you're charged with contempt toward officials, you'll be charged with conduct unbecoming an officer (it is sort of a hand-in-hand thing).
Sec. 933. ART. 133. CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN OFFICER

Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
If you're interested, the missing movement charge is as follows:
Sec. 887. ART. 87. MISSING MOVEMENT

Any person subject to this chapter who through neglect or design misses the movement of a ship, aircraft, or unit with which he is required in the course of duty to move shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
None of the three charges are likely to allow Watada or his lawyer to use the court as a venue to denounce the war in Iraq or the administration. And all the court has to prove is his speech was contemptuous to officials, not whether it was true or not. Probably not a difficult task. And missing movement is a slam dunk.

But, as I said in my previous post, while Watada may not have the opporunity he hopes to have, the court will certainly have the opportunity to make an example of Watada if it chooses to do so.

The military has a different set of rules, and it behooves those who choose to serve to know that. They are different for a reason and those reasons have been supported and upheld by the judicial system of the United States in cases past. "Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" is not just an empty phrase. As I told my son when he enlisted, "you need to understand the rules in the military are different and strict. This is one of the few jobs in the world that they'll put you in jail for not showing up to work on time."

They'll also do it for saying the wrong things at the wrong time as Watada is about to find out.
 
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Comments
What? No article 134 charge? :-)
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I got an Article 15 for "missing movement." Lost my line number for Staff, lost a stripe, and served 180 days extra duty. I had missed an appointment with the base housing office. Mind you, I was a repeat offender, I had missed an appointment a little less than a year before that. In the USAF, any demotion is the end of your career. This was doing the heyday of the "Peace Divedend" purges, so that might’ve been part of it (turns out I wasn’t alone in being demoted for missing an appointment).

I’m wondering if Watada will get a sentence that is as much worse than mine as his "missing movement" was far more heinous than anything I did.


Kalroy

Incidentally, to those who may not know, I had the option of a courts martial, but you never want to go there when you’re guilty.
 
Written By: Kalroy
URL: http://kalroy.blogspot.com
What? No article 134 charge? :-)
Heh ... ah yes, the catch-all article. Nope, I think they figure they have enough on this guy, Mark.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
One aspect that eludes the general public is the source of the UCMJ - Congress. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is law enacted by Congress and is applicable to the United States military. The rules and articles contained in the UCMJ are not those chosen by the military but are required of the military by law, enacted by Congress just as any other law of the land. If you have a problem with the UCMJ and "Freedom of Speech" you can contact your Congressman and voice your displeasure.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Just out of curiosity, as a non-mil guy, but are there any provisions for conscientous objection once somehow has already (voluntarily) enlisted themselves in the armed forces?
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
There are all kinds of other charges that Watada could be burned for, most particularly disobeying the direct orders of a superior commissioned officer in wartime. There is some understandable resentment in enlisted ranks for some punishments that officers can skate through, but enlisteds get screwed on. But they are minor offenses of tardiness, trouble on the town that still get impact in the fitness report. But on big matters - officers swing worse. Among those are disobedience of lawful orders, missing mission movement, disrespect of elected officials and civilian leaders high on the chain of command.

Add the exclusive "conduct becoming an officer" which is legalise for saying an officer is a POS regarding upholding the honor of his/her position.

2 of the 3 charges Watada faces involve a dishonorable discharge by the UCMJ and imprisonment. If they added the disobedience to a superior commissioned officer in wartime, theoretically, death. Though they’d never apply such a charge outside an act of cowardace or endangering troops or vital mission duty in an existential war of national survival. Which the optional Iraq War and the incredibly stupidly named Global War On( the tactic of) Terrorism are not - existential..

Watada has been lured into a very, very bad spot by liberal Democratic activists. Guy has put his dick on the chopping block convinced that Lefty activists and his Dad’s Japanese-American Democratic Network on Hawaii will make him a hero or keep him from serious consequence. Just as Jonathan Pollard thought the financial clout of the Israel Lobby would make his spy case become a little slap on the wrist.

Guess what? Watada is in the military system where any Line Army officer pontentially standing in judment of him at Court Martial knows someone who felt like Watada did, but did his duty all the same. And who personally knows of at least a few who went anyways and sacrified, even were maimed or died in the line of duty in Iraq. And no Leftist/Jewish liberal activist lawyer aside from SCOTUS membership has the least voice in Watada’s justice.

Thwaaaack! Off goes the pee-pee!





 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Just out of curiosity, as a non-mil guy, but are there any provisions for conscientous objection once somehow has already (voluntarily) enlisted themselves in the armed forces?
Not really. Rejecting conscientious objector status is part and parcel of the volunteer process. Volunteering for military service is an explicit rejection of conscientious objector status. The time to apply as a conscientious objector is when you turn 18 and register for Selective Service.

There is a process for applying for objector status if you’re already on active duty, but it’s only used sucessfully, as far as I know, when a service member undergoes a religious conversion to a pacifist religion, such as the Quakers. Political or policy objections are not a grounds for becoming an objector.

Moreover, declaring yourself to be an objector after your unit receives movement orders is always looked upon with a high degree of suspicion.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Moreover, declaring yourself to be an objector after your unit receives movement orders is always looked upon with a high degree of suspicion.
Right.

What CO status requires is a long pattern of that sort of belief/behavior, usually including their life before the military. Not something which just happened at a convenient (or as the military would see it, inconvenient) time.

That’s why you’ll see few if any allowed in a volunteer military, while in a draft military it is entirely possible for a legit CO to be there.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
My friend had a troop try the CO approach whilst in Germany. He got issued a "Tanker Bar" as his "weapon". Had to carry it with him at all times in the field. As my father used the say, "The Army can’t make you DO anything, but they sure as H$(( can make you WISH had done it."

Watada deserves what he’s getting. He enlisted AFTER Afghanistan...it’s not like he didn’t know about the GWoT.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Unfortunately, I’ve known at least one officer who managed to get himself declared a CO once his unit was mobilized. We had to deal with the guy while we were training people to go to Iraq. I had a difficult time even bringing myself to talk to the guy.
 
Written By: Andrew Olmsted
URL: http://andrewolmsted.com
Not really. Rejecting conscientious objector status is part and parcel of the volunteer process. Volunteering for military service is an explicit rejection of conscientious objector status. The time to apply as a conscientious objector is when you turn 18 and register for Selective Service.

There is a process for applying for objector status if you’re already on active duty, but it’s only used sucessfully, as far as I know, when a service member undergoes a religious conversion to a pacifist religion, such as the Quakers. Political or policy objections are not a grounds for becoming an objector.

Moreover, declaring yourself to be an objector after your unit receives movement orders is always looked upon with a high degree of suspicion.
Gotcha. So there are only "outs" for those who object to war on principal, not to those who may object with a specific war or foreign policy decision.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
PLUS, from what I have read Rosensteel, your conversion to the Society of Friends needs to be judged "authentic" not simply a dodge to avoid completing your service obligation.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Gotcha. So there are only "outs" for those who object to war on principal, not to those who may object with a specific war or foreign policy decision.
Yes. Exactly.

That’s why the pattern of behavior is especially important and the military will investigate your previous civilian life to ensure you were in principled opposition prior to the military as well (that’s at least the most assured way to gain CO status). They’ll interview your pastor, your parents, neigbors, school teachers, and others.

It’s not an easy designation to get. And, as I said, more likely to be awarded in a draft military than a volunteer military.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually, there is an Art 134 charge against Watada for disloyal statements.

The local Hawaii paper says Watada is facing six charges (and is where I got the Art 134 info) though it reads like four charges with at least a couple specifications.

The link and relevant citations are at myplace and milblogs (too lazy to link right now)
 
Written By: Army Lawyer
URL: http://armylawyer.blogsome.com
Also, there are a couple levels of conscientious objector status.

Relevant reg is AR 600-43 for the Army and DoD Directive 1300.6 generally.

There are two "classes" of CO:

Class 1-0: Svc member who sincerely objects to participation in any kind of war in any form.

Class 1-A-0: Svc member who sincerely objects to participation as a combtatna in war in any form, but whose convictions permit military service in a noncombatant status.

Objections to a particular war are not a valid basis for CO status.
 
Written By: Army Lawyer
URL: http://armylawyer.blogsome.com

 
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