An Army lieutenant who called the Iraq war illegal and refused to deploy cannot base his court-martial defense on the war's legality, a military judge has ruled.Howie P.S.: Truthout's Geoffrey Millard interviews Lieutenant Ehren Watada's
Lawyers for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada planned to argue at the Feb. 5 trial that the war was illegal because it violated Army regulations that wars must be waged in accordance with the United Nations charter.
But in a ruling released Tuesday, Lt. Col. John Head said "whether the war is lawful" is a political question that could not be judged in a military court.
Seitz had hoped the judge would allow him to present a "Nuremberg defense," derived from the post-World War II tribunals that established a soldier has an obligation to disobey an unlawful order.
But Head wrote that the legality of the Iraq war is a political question and not one for the courts.
And past cases have established that a soldier's motives are irrelevant when he or she is charged with missing movement, the judge ruled.
Seitz had argued for dismissal of the conduct unbecoming charges on the grounds that the statements were protected by Watada's First Amendment rights.
At a press conference, in interviews and in a speech at a Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Watada condemned the Bush administration for what he called "a betrayal of the trust of the American people."
"And these lies were a betrayal of the trust of the military and the soldiers," he said.
Head cited previous cases in the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that held service members' free-speech rights are limited.
parents on the eve of his court-martial. They spoke about their son and his
courage as he faces the fight of his life.