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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 1:47 p.m., Friday, November 17, 2006

Forum to discuss Watada challenge to Iraq war

Advertiser Staff

Honolulu-born Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's challenge to the legality of the war in Iraq will be discussed Sunday afternoon at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus.

Sponsored by the Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, "Ehren Watada: Conscience and Constitutionality" will feature Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada, along with the 28-year-old lieutenant's attorney, Eric Seitz, and UH Richardson School of Law professor Jon Van Dyke, who will address the constitutionality of Watada's actions.

The free public event runs 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the School of Architecture auditorium and will include questions.

Since being charged June 22 for refusing to deploy with his Fort Lewis Stryker unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Watada has been assigned to administrative duties and prohibited from traveling beyond a 250-mile radius of his base in Washington.

Earlier this month, Fort Lewis, Wash., commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik recommended that the Army proceed with a general court-martial against Watada for refusing to deploy. Watada and his attorney had been in negotiations with the Army since an Article 32 hearing on Aug. 17 to avert a trial, but talks broke down this month.

The 1996 Kalani High School graduate several times tried to resign his commission, and publicly made known his intentions to refuse to deploy with his Stryker vehicle unit when it left for northern Iraq. On Aug. 12 at a Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Watada advocated a strategy that he said became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War. "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."

Watada will be tried early next year for missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt toward officials for comments he made concerning the Bush administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq. If convicted of all charges, he could be sentenced to six years confinement and be dismissed from the service.

The Japanese American Citizens League is a private, nonprofit national organization committed to committed to upholding human and civil rights. For additional information about the event, contact Yoshie Tanabe, 394-1908.