News Release

Military Personnel Refusing War


Available for a limited number of interviews, First Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the war in Iraq. He said today: “I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership.” He stated at a news conference on June 7: “My oath of office is to serve and protect America’s laws and its people. By refusing an unlawful order for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today.” Video from that news conference is available at: Watada’s “Stryker Brigade” deploys to Iraq in the coming week.

Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, Cohn spoke at the news conference with Watada. She wrote the article “First Officer Publicly Resists War.”
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Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, who is currently in a military prison. At a recent Congressional briefing about conscientious objection, she stated: “My husband went to war. He saw mass graves filled with dead bodies of old people, women and children. He watched dogs feeding on their bodies. … When he returned home, my husband and I wrote publicly about our feelings for this and all war. … My husband took the course available to him and filed a Conscientious Objector application.

“His command, in an effort to punish him for his humanity, and because they could not do so for the public comments that he and I had made, chose to disregard his application, and … found a way to put him in prison. … My husband violated no regulations. His command violated many. The command’s flagrant disregard for military regulations and laws of humanity sent my husband to jail as a prisoner of conscience.”
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Wright is a retired Army Colonel and former State Department diplomat. After 16 years in the diplomatic corps, she resigned in May 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She said today: “I was in the military for 29 years and what many soldiers are doing today is just extraordinary. When I resigned from the diplomatic corps, there were no ill effects on me other than quitting a job. But many of these soldiers are risking a great deal for their principles.”
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Zeiger is producer and director of “Sir, No Sir,” a film about active duty soldiers who resisted the Vietnam War. He said today: “Soldiers today are facing many of the same issues U.S. soldiers faced during the Vietnam War: being an occupying army in a Third World country; being part of a war with justifications that were a lie and with a growing number of people back in the U.S. opposed to the war. GI’s during the Vietnam War responded in ways which have been largely erased from history.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167