By Kate Mucci, Producer, Out There Television
We have heard so many disgusting and disturbing accounts of war crimes committed by our own troops lately that sometimes it's hard to remember that the soldiers committing these atrocities are our neighbors and friends and relatives.
These young men and women are often doing the best they can, but are ill-equipped to fight guerrilla wars in 120 degree heat. Sure, some of them are brutal bullies: you know the ones; they beat up on the little kids or nerds in school. But generally they are the victims of a woeful lack of leadership and a system designed to ensnare them into "voluntary" service.
So what can we expect of the poor schmucks who joined the Army or Air Force or Navy or Marines, thinking it was the only choice for a career? They're told that the military is the best option for a job, and they believe it because the same despots that make a killing off war have made sure there is no real industry left in this country.
A young person getting out of high school can no longer get a secure job manufacturing something: a job where she can join a union, get benefits and be able to retire in a comfortable fashion. No, the people funding Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and the whole lot of war mongering neo-cons have made sure there will be volunteer canon fodder by making sure there are no options in industry on American soil. Hell, they've even made sure that many of the few jobs left in this country are farmed out to the privately owned prisons which are filled with people who got caught smoking pot three times, sent up to be prison laborers for the rest of their lives.
It's true that many of our military sons and daughters join out of a sense of honor and the desire to protect our country, but it's also true that many more join because they see no other options. They have been led down a pothole ridden path paved with the lies of the heartless hawks in Washington and drenched in the blood of innocent women and children, the body parts of their fathers and brothers, and the shredded pieces of our constitution.
Even though he was concerned about many of the things he had heard about the Iraq war, Lieutenant Watada said in a recent interview, "I was still willing to go until I started reading". He read James Bamford's book "A Pretext for War," which argues that the intelligence used to justify the toppling of Sadam Hussein was twisted by a group of neocons dedicated to changing the Middle East for the benefit of Israel. He also read "Chain of Command," by Seymour M. Hersh, about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and articles about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the Downing Street Memo. When he talked to soldiers returning to the U.S. from Iraq, he learned that many of them felt they may have committed war crimes.
And so, Lieutenant Watada wrote to his brigade commander and asked to resign his commission based on the fact that the Iraq war was illegal, immoral, and our military was only involved in it because of the lies and deceit of the civilian leadership.
That young man has more courage in his little finger than the whole lot of hawks in the White House and Pentagon put together.
He is my hero. He has everything to lose and virtually nothing to gain by standing up against the group of lawless frauds who run this country. He gives me hope that there are young men and women in the military who are disgusted enough to take a stand.
But the military leadership has decided that, rather than honoring the intelligence and honesty of one of their own; they are going to prosecute him. Rather than accepting his resignation and letting him go in peace, they have charged him with one count of missing movement (for not deploying), two counts of contempt toward officials and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.
I believe the fact that he stood up for the truth and his ideals is the most honorable and becoming thing any officer could do.
In my humble opinion, I believe this country would be a magnificent place if men like Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada led it. We would know that intelligence and reasonable thought are honored and the intent of our founding fathers to protect this new land from the dictatorial pursuits of dishonorable autocrats would be maintained.
Cowards like George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be relegated to the places and pursuits to which they are best suited: under rocks hunting rats. And we wouldn't have to worry that our leader was the laughing stock of the planet.