TACOMA, Washington - December 11 - The "Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq"
will be held on January 20-21, 2007, in Tacoma, Washington, two weeks
before the February 5th court martial of 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada
at Fort Lewis. Organizing Committee members Rob Crawford, Associate
Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma says that the
national event "will put the Iraq War on trial, in response to the
Army's trial of Lt. Watada, the first U.S. military officer to
refuse deployment to Iraq."
Organizers announced the upcoming tribunal today, December 11th, on
the 60th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's
affirmation of the Nuremberg Principles, which--in the aftermath of
World War II--disallowed soldiers from following unlawful orders that
can lead to war crimes.
Nuremberg Trials prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, 86, said that "The
enduring lessons and principles of the Nuremberg trials were that
aggressive war is 'the supreme international crime' since it
incorporates all of the other crimes. In addition, Nuremberg held
that those responsible for crimes against humanity and major war
crimes will have to answer before the bar of justice."
Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and
human rights advocates will offer testimony, in a format that will
resemble that of a congressional committee. According to Dr. Lawrence
Mosqueda, member of the Organizing Committee and Professor at
Evergreen State College: "We are inviting testimony by Iraq War
veterans and experts to inform military personnel and other citizens
to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities in an illegal
war." Testifiers include:
*Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated
Iraq humanitarian aid;
*Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers
in the Vietnam War;
*Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton
*Nadia McCaffrey, Gold Star Families Speak Out; Brussels Tribunal
*Harvey Tharp, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and JAG stationed in Iraq;
*Antonia Juhasz, policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies
*John Burroughs, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy Executive
*Eman Khammas, Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).
*Benjamin G. Davis, Assoc. Prof. of Law, University of Toledo; expert
on law of war.
The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed,
make at his court martial. His defense attorneys maintain that the
war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article
Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada's defense argues
that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require
soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view,
deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that
permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.
A panel comprised of military veterans, members of military families,
students, and representatives of labor unions, local governments,
academia, and religious organizations will hear the testimony,
examine witnesses, and issue a fact-finding report. Panelists will
focus on the legality of the war, whether the invasion of Iraq in
2003 constituted a "crime against the peace," whether the military
occupation and economic constriction of Iraq constitutes a "crime
against humanity," and whether individual soldiers have an obligation
or duty to refuse unlawful orders.
David Krieger, who was a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii
during the Vietnam War, and is currently the Director of the Nuclear
Age Peace Foundation will serve as panel chair. Krieger, who was a
member of the Jury of Conscience at the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq,
observes, "The Citizens' Hearing will place the legality of the Iraq
War on trial. U.S. soldiers have always had the duty to disobey
unlawful orders. That obligation was strengthened at the Nuremberg
Tribunals following World War II. Following superior orders to commit
unlawful acts is not a defense."
Krieger asserts, "Lt. Watada's position is that if the war itself is
illegal, which he believes it to be, then orders to participate in
the war must also be illegal. There is a duty to disobey such orders.
If this position cannot be tried in U.S. courts, it must be tried
before the court of public opinion."
Lietta Ruger of Military Families Speak Out (MSFO), Washington state
chapter, says: "this hearing will focus attention on the role of the
U.S. government--rather than that of individual soldiers--in
perpetrating the crimes of the Iraq War."
Tribunal organizer and Evergreen State College geography professor
Dr. Zoltan Grossman comments: "The Citizens' Hearing will focus
critical attention on the underlying premises of the Iraq War at a
critical time when its future is being decided. The Citizens' Hearing
will heighten the discussion of the Iraq invasion and occupation in
the public--and within the military itself--as similar tribunals did
during the Vietnam War."
Nuremberg Trials prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz concludes, "The best way
to protect the lives of courageous young people who serve in the
military is to avoid war-making itself. One cannot kill an idea with
a gun, but only with a better idea. If people believe that law is
better than war, they must do all they can to enhance the power of
law and stop glorifying war."
The Evergreen State College's Tacoma Campus (1210 6th Ave.) will
host The Citizens' Hearing on January 20-21, 2007. The organizers of
the Citizens' Hearing are also launching a new website: http://
www.WarTribunal.org to provide regular updates about the project. For
more information about the case of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada, go to