By Diane Ako
SEATTLE (KHNL) Was Watada right or wrong to not go to Iraq with the rest of his unit last month? You spoke and we listened. Tonight, we have Watada himself respond to your comments on khnl.com. KHNL news 8's Diane Ako was the only Hawaii reporter given access to the Lieutenant. She has an interview you'll see "Only on 8".
Viewer Roberta writes: "He freely enlisted. Took advantage of the benefits to become a commissioned lieutenant. Now he objects. He enlisted after 9-11 so he knew what he was getting into. I have had several family members go to Iraq. Two even volunteered to return. To let him get away without consequences is a slap in the face to the many men and women who have sacrificed for this country."
Watada responds: "It's true I freely enlisted, but I don't know what they're talking about that I took benefits. My school was not paid for. I did enlist after 9/11 and invasion of Iraq but at that time I didn't know what I know now, that this war was waged out of deception on the American people. I'm not trying to minimize the sacrifice many other service people are making in Iraq. Sure there should be consequences for every action."
Viewer Shawn writes, "What did Watada expect when he enlisted as an officer in an infantry unit after the war had started? For him to use a 'change of mind' as a defense shows just what a coward he is."
Watada says, "It's not just a change of mind. When you see something that is illegal and you didn't realize it before and now you see that's wrong, now you see that's illegal, how can you go ahead and take part in it?
Viewer Keoki says, "I applaud Lt. Watada for standing up for what he believes. The US army backed him against a wall. He is a real hero in my eyes."
Watada smiles and says, "Well thank you very much. Like I said before, I joined the military to serve all the American people."
Reporter Diane Ako shows Watada the tabulated results. "More than 87% of our viewers think you should face jail time if convicted."
Watada says, "Everybody's entitled to their opinion. Certainly it's a simplified question."
One thing he is happy about is that viewer polls like KHNL's get people talking about the war. "Maybe people, instead of talking about the NBA finals at the water cooler, are talking about this."