CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ehren Watada's stepmother, Rosa Sakanishi, and father, Bob Watada, attended a news conference yesterday to support their son, who is refusing to fight in Iraq. Karen Nakasone, at right, of the Japanese American Citizens League of Honolulu spoke at the Nagasaki Peace Bell near City Hall.
Watada renews offer to resign his post
The Army officer wants a reprimand in lieu of a court-martial
Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has again offered to resign his commission from the Army and is willing to accept any type of administrative punishment in place of a court-martial, his attorney said yesterday.
Eric Seitz said his client is willing to accept a reprimand, fine and reduction in rank rather than face a court-martial for refusing to go with his Stryker combat unit to Iraq last month.
Seitz said the offer was made to Army prosecutors this week as both sides prepare for a pretrial Article 32 hearing at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 17.
The Army has twice refused Watada's offer to step down as an Army officer or serve in some other combat zone, like Afghanistan.
Watada is the first Army officer who might be court-martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq. The 28-year-old has refused to participate in what he believes is an illegal and immoral war. He is a 1996 Kalani High School graduate.
An artillery officer assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Watada was charged with missing a movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer. His unit deployed to Iraq on June 22.
Seitz said Watada could be imprisoned for more than seven years, if convicted, and dishonorably discharged.
He said Watada is not willing to accept any jail time as part of any pretrial agreement.
Seitz hopes to get the Army to agree to a similar settlement he negotiated for Jeffrey Patterson, the Kaneohe Marine who refused to deploy to Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.
Patterson was imprisoned because he refused to accompany his unit to Kuwait, but was freed by a federal judge before his Article 32 pretrial or preliminary hearing, Seitz said, and later administratively separated from the Marines.
Seitz believes the Army faces an uphill battle with Watada.
He said he does not believe the Army realized "how big a deal this was going to be when he refused to go. I think they always believed he was going to back down."
Yesterday, nearly a dozen organizations gathered under the Nagasaki Peace Bell on the grounds of City Hall to express their support for Watada. These organizations included the Japanese American Citizens League of Honolulu, American Friends Service Committee, Hawaii People's Fund, Code Pink Hawaii, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait and Not in Our Name.
Bob Watada said his son is "only standing up for the Constitution."