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01-07-07, 03:05 PM #1
Mother fights for son who said no to war
Mother fights for son who said no to war
By Linton Weeks
The Washington Post
Carolyn Ho is a mother on a mission.
She came to Washington, D.C., in mid-December to build support for her son, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.
Barring some kind of miracle, he will be court-martialed Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis. If convicted, he could be sent to military prison for six years.
Like many Americans, she believed she could come to the capital and change the world. Or at least her small part of it.
She was acting purely on instinct, wanting to do everything in a mother's power to protect her son. "I'm here to get what I can," said Ho, of Honolulu. "I'm going to put it out there."
At the very least, she hoped for some kind of letter of support. She was in Tacoma Wednesday for a news conference when she received a letter from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Ho read an excerpt over the phone:
"The issue that [Watada] has raised deserves to be publicly debated and considered. And I will use my platform as a member of Congress and chair of the 'Out of Iraq' caucus to highlight the failed policies of this administration and stimulate discussion. ... Your son has shown great integrity and dignity in his objection to the war in Iraq, and I commend you for working so hard on his behalf."
Ho sighed and said she found the letter to be "disappointing."
But it was something.
"Work of mothers"
During her Capitol Hill quest, she was accompanied by several seasoned lobbyists, but they let her do the talking. She sat down with staffers in the offices of Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and aides from the offices of Reps. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., John Conyers, D-Mich., and Waters.
Ho sees her efforts as part of a larger, multifaceted wave challenging the Bush administration from every angle.
Phoebe Jones, of Global Women's Strike, an international anti-war network that supports Ho and Watada, was at Ho's side on Capitol Hill.
"The work of mothers is protecting life, beginning with their children," Jones said. "And that is really the opposite of the obscenity of war."
Her son "based his decision on facts," Ho said. He studied the war in Iraq and decided it was illegal. He asked to be shipped to Afghanistan; his request was denied. He was offered a noncombat position in Iraq; he said no thanks.
Because the United States entered the war based on false premises, Ho said, the war is illegal. It is thus her son's constitutional duty to disobey orders.
So she asked that members of Congress get involved. She said that she would prefer that the military accept her son's resignation and dismiss all charges against him.
She asked, "Just who is the criminal here? The one who is refusing to participate in war crimes?"
The Army's side
From the Army's standpoint, the case is simple. Tens of thousands of soldiers have passed through Fort Lewis on their way to the war and have not asked for special treatment, said Army spokesman Joe Piek.
Watada, 28, signed on for military service in 2003 with full knowledge that he might have to fight an unpopular war, Piek said. "This is a case about a soldier who refused orders to deploy to Iraq. ... That is the bottom line."
Watada has been charged with one count of "missing movement," which means he did not board one of the planes taking his 3rd Brigade to Kuwait on June 22. In Kuwait, the brigade's 4,000 soldiers received their orders.
He also is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, for subsequent statements he made. For now he is assigned to a special-troops battalion while awaiting his court appearance.
To Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, the situation is more complicated.
"The United States talks out of both sides of its mouth," Seitz said. "We've prosecuted soldiers in other countries for following orders to commit war crimes. But God forbid you should use that refusal as a defense in this country."
To Carolyn Ho, congressional staffers were polite and receptive. She came at an inopportune time, she was told several times. Congress had adjourned for the holidays.
She left with little more than encouragement and good wishes. A high-school counselor, Ho had been on leave since the end of September. She had to get back to work.
Ho went back to Hawaii for Christmas, but is in the Seattle area for the hearing.
"People are stepping gingerly," she said about congressional action. "There's a wait-and-see approach."
01-07-07, 06:06 PM #2
shouldn't have joined the military service
01-07-07, 06:09 PM #3
Lotta tall trees going to waste out there. Missing a movement/desertion in time of war-what's the diff? Especially for an officer!
01-07-07, 06:15 PM #4yellowwingGuest Free MemberHe also is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, for subsequent statements he made. For now he is assigned to a special-troops battalion while awaiting his court appearance.
01-07-07, 07:37 PM #5
He needs his okole fried in macadamia nut oil.
01-07-07, 07:44 PM #6Originally Posted by yellowwing
01-07-07, 08:20 PM #7
Probably went to college on a full ride ROTCsy grant and when they took his little wooden gun away and gave him a combat weapon he called his mama. Ok Lieutenant go supervise the painting of rocks and the raking of leaves.... I'm sure when that private says shure to ya they meant to say sir.
I hope his degree in underwater basket weaving and his military record serve him well. Maybe they should just give mom an M-16 and let him stay home and suck his thumb. Grrrrrrr
01-07-07, 08:29 PM #8
When he joined, in 2003 we went to war because of WMD, right?
He is willing to fight in Afgan.
01-07-07, 08:52 PM #9
Philosophically speaking........ what if he wanted to go to Iraq and the Army wanted him in Afganistan? Would he have missed movement? Would he have called his mom in to fight his battles?
01-07-07, 09:03 PM #10yellowwingGuest Free Member
Wikipedia has some good info on Lt Ehren Watada. Appently he was an Eagle Scout and football star. The significant detail is that his Father "Bob Watada, served for ten years as executive director of Hawaii's Campaign Spending Commission."
Is this a spectacle carefully planned for politics?
01-07-07, 09:17 PM #11Originally Posted by Bulkyker
I can't answer your questions of course but to assume he is not willing to go into combat is not something that I saw in the article.
He is trained and ready so I say send his tail to Afgan as the Army can use all the assets it can find.
As far as not following orders go? He should wear that rank he has a long time!
01-08-07, 09:25 AM #12
I'm thinking he should have thought of these "moral" implications BEFORE signing up for service. Folks this is a "poster boy" for some politicians to get their agendas boosted. Next to terrorist, politicians are more of a threat to our nation than even ol' Osama Bin Laden at times. I can respect someone's desire not to go to war. Hell most of us don't or did not relish the thought of fighting, but as Marines or in this soldier's case order's are order's and unless it's a truly unlawful order you do what your told. Sounds like this kid got his degree from the Micheal Moore school of how to weaken your nation. I personally hope they punish this trooper to the full extent of our military law. Even if you don't want to do it for your nation at the very least he should want to go to be there for his brothers in arms. What a pathetic person.
01-08-07, 09:34 AM #13
"Phoebe Jones, of Global Women's Strike, an international anti-war network that supports Ho and Watada, was at Ho's side on Capitol Hill.
"The work of mothers is protecting life, beginning with their children," Jones said. "And that is really the opposite of the obscenity of war." "
As the mother of a Marine who has served two tours in Iraq - including the seige of Fallujah - and is preparing for his third "all expense paid" trip to the sand box, I beg to disagreee with Pheobe Jones' definition of "mothers' work" -and somehow I doubt she has children.
A mother's job is to prepare her child for the real world - not the world that we would all like our children to see.
A mother's job is demonstrate to her child that there is right and there is wrong - selection of either can bring consequences, but the selection of right will usually bring a consequence that once can be proud of.
A mother's job is to prepare her child for their role in life and the responsibility that the role will bring - be it soldier, tailor, tinker, spy as the old nursery rhyme goes - and to give them the knowledge that there are time when the job is not perfect - but you do your best.
A mothers' job is to instill in her child respect for his or her country, its history, traditions, laws and government. Let the child understand that dissent is healthy, each citizen does have a vote and that is a responsibility as well as a privilege.
It is a mother's job to teach the child that once your word is given, it cannot be easily taken back. Once an oath is sworn, to forsake that oath is wrong. It is, frankly, a mother's job to start the process of understanding "Honor, Courage, Commitment" early in a childs' life. It is a code that has meaning and relevance well beyond the Corps.
If Ms. Jones does not agree with my definition of "mothers' work", then I will have to remind her - as a kid who grew up in Brooklyn, in a "Mafia" neighborhood" - to please do her best not to ever be in my vicinity - because sometimes "mother" is only half a word............................
01-08-07, 10:03 AM #14
Hoorah! for you MarineMom; well said!
01-08-07, 10:16 AM #15
Wow what can ya say to that!?!?!? Ooh rah Marinemom!
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