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9.27.2009

lt. ehren watada allowed to resign from army

First Lt. Ehren Watada, who made headlines as the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for publicly refusing to go to Iraq, will be allowed to resign from the Army and granted a discharge "under other-than-honorable conditions": Army Officer Who Refused Iraq Duty Is Allowed to Resign.

Lt. Watada's resignation marks the end of a high-profile, three-year legal battle that included unsuccessful attempts by the Army to court martial him.

In 2006, Watada refused to deploy to Iraq with his unit, based in Fort Lewis, Washington, arguing that the war was illegal and that he would be a party to war crimes. He was charged with missing his unit's deployment and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President George W. Bush and the war -- statements he made while explaining his actions.

His court-martial ended in a mistrial in February 2007. The Army sought a second court-martial, but a federal judge ruled that it would violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to six years in prison and been dishonorably discharged.

According to his attorney, Watada had tried to resign previously, but the Army had refused to allow it. It seems that the Army realized it couldn't defeat him in a courtroom, and finally accepted his resignation this time around.

Watada will officially complete his service (currently a desk job at Fort Lewis) on Friday. More here: Army to discharge Hawaii soldier who took stand against Iraq war.