While Lt. Ehren Watada awaits his fate at a court martial at Ft. Lewis, Washington in February, American citizens, including Iraq War veterans, will come to nearby Tacoma to participate in a Citizens’ Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq. The organizers of the January 20-21 “tribunal” indicate that it is of particular relevance to military personnel and their families, and welcome their attendance. Lietta Ruger from the Washington chapter of Military Families Speak Out states: “I do hope my brothers and sisters in military families will take an interest in this hearing as relevant to their immediate lives and concerns.”

Citizens’ Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq

January 20, 2007 (10 am-4 pm) & January 21 (10 am-4 pm)

The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus
1210 Sixth Avenue, Tacoma, Washington

Program at www.wartribunal.org

The Citizens’ Hearing will be an opportunity for internationally known experts to present their research into the war’s legality, and for those personally affected by the Iraq War to present their experiences. U.S. public opinion against the war is at an all-time high and President Bush’s “surge” strategy is not winning favor with the new Congress or with some soldiers and their families. Dr. Zoltan Grossman of the tribunal organizing committee asserts: “The discussion within the White House and Congress has focused on how to fight the war, not why it is being fought. Under these circumstances, American citizens (including military veterans and families) have the responsibility to start asking tough questions about the underlying premises of the war.”

Lt. Watada maintains that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. He further argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only “lawful orders.” Lt. Watada’s defense requested that these issues be admitted into the court martial, as they were in the 2005 Navy trial of Iraq War refuser Pablo Paredes.

Citizens’ Hearing Panel Chair David Krieger asserts, “If Lt. Watada cannot get a full hearing about the war’s legality in a military trial, then his case should at least be aired in the court of public opinion.”

Testifiers will include experts in military policy, international law and war crimes, including:

Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;

Daniel Ellsberg, Military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War and

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University.

Testifiers will also include military veterans, and others directly affected by the Iraq War, including:

Ann Wright, Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;

Darrell Anderson, Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart; and

Harvey Tharp, Former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and JAG stationed in Iraq.

The format of the Citizens’ Hearing will resemble that of a congressional hearing. A panel of citizens 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 constituted a “crime against peace,” whether the military occupation of Iraq constitutes a “crime against humanity,” and whether individual soldiers have an obligation or duty to refuse unlawful orders that may lead to “war crimes.”

The 12-member Citizens’ Hearing Panel will include veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as more recent veterans. It will include a military family member, Gold Star family member, and high school student (representing youth of military age). The Panel will also include a government leader, religious leader, labor union member, and health care worker.

The Citizens’ Hearing will be held at the Evergreen State College’s Tacoma Campus (1210 6th Ave.) on January 20-21, 2007 (10 am-4 pm). It is free and open to the public. The program (including testifiers and panelists) can be found at http://www.WarTribunal.org For more information about the case of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada, go to http://www.ThankYouLT.org

Testifiers, half of whom are military veterans, also include:

Antonia Juhasz Policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq

John Burroughs Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy Executive Director

Benjamin G. Davis Assoc. Prof. of Law, University of Toledo; expert on law of war

Francis Boyle Professor of international law at Univ. of Illinois (via video)

Geoffrey Millard 8 years in Army National Guard; awarded 13 medals

Dennis Kyne 15 years as Army medic & drill sergeant; trained in NBC warfare

Chanan Suarez-Diaz Former Navy hospital corpsman; Purple Heart and valor commendation

Nadia McCaffrey Gold Star Families Speak Out; Brussels Tribunal advisory board

Eman Khammas Iraqi human rights advocate (via video)