Thursday, July 13, 2006

Exlusive Interview w/ Lt. Ehren Watada; Answers oppositions questions

In the most recent 'exclusive interview' with Lt. Ehren Watada, on July 12, 2006, in Seattle, WA, hear him respond to legitmate criticisms and oppositions to his decision to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. As an Officer of U.S. Army, he has taken his responsibility seriously to discern legal from illegal orders. In his best judgment, he has refused to deploy to Iraq as in his consideration it is an illegal order to an illegal war. There has been plenty of time now between June 7, 2006 when he announced his intention and decision to refuse to deploy with his Stryker brigade unit for people to weigh in with opinions to his decision. Hear for yourself, first hand, Lt. Watada respond to those criticisms.

Much of what has been stated as opinion critical of Lt. Watada pose legitimate questions, deserving to be discussed and considered. Lt. Ehren Watada, as a trained Officer, fully expects the range of opinions questioning of his decision and is no stranger to military cultural training and process. Hear him first hand respond to the criticisms in the videos posted at exclusive July 12 interview with Diana Ako . Before commenting with criticisms already expressed and Lt. Watada's responses to those criticisms, please first actually listen to Lt. Watada himself, then comment. Thank you.

Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada support continues to grow and actions of support for Lt. Watada continue to be planned in the upcoming days and weeks before his first scheduled Article 32 military hearing set for August 17, 2006. As one of those on the national coordinating council of Friends and Family of Lt. Watada, I can tell you candidly that the expected opposition from military at Fort Lewis, WA is as expected, but simultaneously as hoped, there is also considerable support from Fort Lewis military as is being shown privately for Lt. Watada.

There is not, imo, a right and wrong absolutism opinion to have on Lt. Watada's decision. Rather, there is considerable middle ground to explore with the invasion/occupation of Iraq at a critical stage for our deployed military. As our political leaders continue to posture in what positions or stands to make regarding Iraq, it seems evident that any forthcoming changes will need to be initiated by courage of a different kind. I believe Lt. Watada IS exercising a different kind of courage and I salute him for his willingness to make a different kind of sacrifice of service on behalf of his country.

I say this as a military family with two returning Iraq veterans in our family. Both will face repeat deployments to Iraq. Both are Sgts in U.S. Army and I support their bravery as I do every one of our military troops. In supporting a different kind of bravery exercised by Lt. Watada, I do not believe this in any way diminishes support and pride in the service in combat of my own loved ones, of our troops. I believe that it is entirely possible for military families to support our troops best by wading through the complexities instead of settling for the forced dialogue that pits military family against military family with fixed opinions for which there seems to be no middle ground.

I say this as a military family well exposed to the culture, honor and dignity of military life; raised in military family; young wife to young husband deployed to Vietnam; married to Vietnam-era veteran; and now mother, grandmother with son-in-law and nephew who have served proudly in OIF and are Iraq veterans. Serving proudly does not with absolutism indicate belief in the value of invasion/occupation of Iraq as much as it harkens back to a time-honored tradition in military to serve proudly at the behest of the Commander-in-Chief. I believe Lt. Watada's decision and action call attention to the loss of trust in this Commander-in-Chief and I will say betrayal of this Commander-in-Chief in committing our valued military and young in an ill-defined military mission. I did not need Lt. Watada to tell me what I already came to believe in that this Commander-in-Chief has abandoned our troops which I have said myself a number of times.

As a supporter of Friends and Family of Lt. Watada, I have had opportunity by invitation of Friends and Family of Lt. Watada to speak in two radio interviews in late June with what could be characterized as conservative belief sets. One interview with Larry Elder show which I thought went well on both sides; facilitating what would be expected opposition and criticisms from which Lt. Watada does not wither and full expects as part of the dialogue. The other interview was more local to Seattle, in what could be characterized as a perhaps an Evangelical political talk show (pardon my lack of perhaps a better characterization). Oddly, I found that interview to be far more aggessive and less facilitative of actual discussion. However, that was in the immediate weeks following Lt. Watada announcement of his decision in public press conference in Tacoma, WA.

Some weeks have passed, and as the newness and knee jerk reactionary reactions give pause to more deliberate consideration, I hope the discussion can continue with courage, dignity and honor on all sides.

Thank you and I encourage your support for a different kind of courage and will lend that support to Lt. Ehren Watada in the days and weeks ahead. It is my belief he is providing a service to this country for which he is willing to give up his liberty, freedom, and life.

Lietta Ruger
Military Families Speak Out
Washington state chapter


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