Army of One?

February 6, 2007 | | 1 Comment

Should a soldier be permitted to refuse deployment? What if the soldier thinks the war to which he is being deployed is illegal, and his simple presence in the country (Iraq, if that’s not clear yet) would “make [him] a party to war crimes.” ABC News is running a story about the upcoming court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada. In addition to refusing deployment, Watada is also being charged with “conduct unbecoming of an officer” for making public speeches against the war – some to packed crowds.

Just as freedom of speech is limited for you and me (no shouting “FIRE!”, as they say), Watada’s freedom of speech, as an officer, is limited as well. The article takes care to point out that Watada is not permitted to “encourage other soldiers to disobey orders.” It’s not clear whether Watada has actually so encouraged, although I imagine the government might try to make the argument that by publicly speaking against the war and refusing to go (under threat of imprisonment), Watada is “encouraging by example.” Watada’s court-martial began yesterday, and the soldier’s fate should be decided by week’s end.

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1 Comment so far

  1. William & Mary ACS » Blog Archive » Canon of Constitutional Avoidance? Why?? on November 22, 2007 5:07 am

    […] example, just last night the court-martial of Lt. Watada, the officer who was arrested for criticizing the Iraq War and failing to show for duty, ended in […]

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