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As the house of cards that was constructed to lead us into Iraq continues to fall down, City on a Hill Press salutes US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who is courageously standing atop the most solid of foundations—the United States Constitution.

The first active-duty soldier to refuse deployment in Iraq and publicly speak out against the war, Lt. Watada has joined the growing group of brave dissenters whose voices and rights are being repressed after questioning the unjust decisions of the Bush Administration. With the war in Iraq escalating toward more violence and chaos each day, and Bush’s preparations to attack Iran, this country desperately needs the likes of Lt. Watada to fulfill duties as soldiers, as Americans, and as humans.

This quasi-democratic government is slow to respond to the post pressing of their constituent’s demand—to end the occupation of Iraq. It is in this day that those of Lt. Watada’s stature must be allowed a voice to question why their superiors keep sending them to die in a war that the American public was fooled into supporting and now clearly opposes. Lt. Watada is leading the way straight into that which our country holds most sacred—the rule of law.

Last summer, Lt. Watada was arrested for refusing to board a plane headed for a tour in Iraq and telling the press that he believed the war was illegal. Lt. Watada said that it was his duty under the military’s code of conduct to refuse orders to serve in what he deemed an illegal war.

“An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity,” Lt. Watada said in a speech following his decision. “Our duty to the Constitution is an obligation, not a choice.”

Lt. Watada faces a court marshal and up to four years in prison. He signed a stipulation agreement (a deal with the prosecution) mandating that the prosecution drop two counts for speaking against the war to the press, in exchange for Lt. Watada acknowledging that he refused to deploy and that he spoke out against the war—illegal acts for military personnel. On Feb. 7, during the third day of Lt. Watada’s trial, Lt. Col. John Head, in a moment of confusion, declared a mistrial due to procedural misconceptions.

Many may accuse Lt. Watada of manipulating the rules just to save his own neck. But his commitment to military duty seems to be as solid as his commitment to the Constitution, as he said that he would serve in Afghanistan. But instead of recognizing this dedication, the government is trying to make him an example, and he hasn’t even blinked as he continues to stick his neck out for the real moral values of our country.

While Lt. Watada is the only soldier to have spoken out against this war on the grounds of its illegality, there are others taking equally important stances in order to bring the fallacies of this war to the people and, like Lt. Watada, are being denied justice for doing so. In January about 1,000 service members signed a letter that was delivered to congress as an “appeal for redress.” The letter was simple:

“As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.”

The stage has been set for the estimated 8,000-10,000 soldiers who have gone absent without leave (AWOL) to join in the calls of dissent. After all, they are the ones who have been on the ground experiencing the horrors and contradictory reasons for this war, and they are the ones who should be allowed to say “enough is enough.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that the American people, and especially those who have committed to serve this country, are done with this war, and are becoming increasingly ready to do whatever necessary to bring it to an end. It is becoming increasingly clear who the true patriots are.

As a true patriot and defender of the United States Constitution, we salute you Lt. Ehren Watada. Now we ask ‘who’s next?’

_For more information go to www.thankyoult.org_