"'Yes, I have broken ranks. I have not been a good lieutenant ...," he said. "Otherwise, like those lemmings, we could all march off to our doom."
"Speaking Saturday before more than 70 people at the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Watada explained why he refused to go to Iraq, a decision that has him scheduled for a court martial on Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis. Since his decision last summer to purposely miss his Army unit’s deployment on June 22, the 28-year-old from Hawaii has gone from thinking he "never could or should do this" to becoming a vocal spokesman for raising public awareness against the war.
"'We all do what we believe in," Watada said.
"The odds of being convicted are likely because a judge at Watada’s Jan. 4 pre-trial hearing ruled that Watada’s lawyers cannot present arguments saying the Iraq war is illegal, which is Watada’s defense.
"'You can convict me and send me to prison," Watada said, "but in the grand scheme of things it changes nothing."
"According to his Web site, www.thankyoult.org, Watada swore allegiance to the Constitution and "not to those who would issue unlawful orders." He said that he is a servant of the people and public opinion has turned against the war.
"Watada also said the war is illegal because the reasons for beginning it and continuing it have been deceptive. "All soldiers in a free society must know the true reasons for why he or she is going to sacrifice their life," Watada said. "Do you think the American military will ever leave when there are profits to protect?"
"Though he still works at Fort Lewis — and tries to stay out of public places because of the hate mail he has received — Watada is using his role to encourage others to oppose the war.