Army lieutentant charged with refusing to deploy to Iraq to face court-martial

By: MELANTHIA MITCHELL - Associated Press

SEATTLE -- An Army lieutenant who challenged the Bush administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq and then refused to deploy to the country will face a military trial, the Army said Thursday.

Fort Lewis commander Lt. Gen. James Dubik recommended that the Army proceed with a general court-martial against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.

Watada, 28, was charged with missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt toward officials for comments he made about President Bush.

The Army later added another specification of conduct unbecoming an officer based on his comments in Seattle during the national convention of Veterans for Peace in August.

Dubik referred only the charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer, the Army said.

The officer, from Honolulu, has said he believes the war is illegal. He was first charged after he refused to deploy to Iraq on June 22 with his Fort Lewis Stryker unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

At an Article 32 hearing Aug. 17, prosecutors showed video footage of Watada at the veterans' convention, calling on other soldiers to stop participating in U.S. involvement in Iraq.

If convicted of all charges, Watada could serve six years' confinement and be dismissed from the service. No date has been set for the trial.