A lieutenant says he is going to refuse to go, saying it's an unjust war. Anti-war groups are rallying to his defense.
Lt. Ehren Watada of the Stryker Brigade writes, "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to ‘stay the course.’ I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression.
"I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home." - signed LT.
His name had been kept a secret until now, but Lt. Watada's father confirms that his son is taking this bold step and told the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper that he's proud of his son.
Fort Lewis says since the lieutenant hasn't done anything official yet, there's no violation. But should he decide to go ahead with this, he could be charged with 'desertion' or more likely with 'missing the movement' of his unit.
It's happened before with a sergeant who refused to go. Sgt. Kevin Benderman was sentenced to 15 months for refusing to go to Iraq.
Lt. Watada asked for reassignment and tried resigning his commission, but the Army refused. His attorney tells us from Hawaii that Watada is not against all wars, just this one.
"I've been doing this for nearly 40 years and I'm somewhat astounded that in the context of a war that is becoming increasing unpopular that they are relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues," said attorney Eric Seitz from Hawaii.
This doesn't sit well with fellow soldiers.
"We're here to serve our country and fight and that's his job," said Private Nathan Hanson. "It's his duty."
Anti-war protestors, many of which demonstrated at the Port of Olympia recently, are rushing to his aid. They have put up a Web site believing he's the first commissioned officer to refuse to go.
The lieutenant says he'll make his intentions official Wednesday at noon and that's when his defense team will kick into gear.
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