Hawaii Born Army Officer's Court Martial Begins

Sean Penn
Sean Penn
Jeff Brigham
Jeff Brigham

FORT LEWIS (KHNL) Outside the gates of a Fort Lewis courtroom, the theatre of war protests brought a leading man, actor and war critic Sean Penn.

"Just here to stand among the other supporters of it. Watada a decision in good conscience," says Penn

Penn and others rallied for Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada. Watada has refused to fight in the war because he says it's wrong. A stand that could land him in prison. A court martial against Watada started today, something his opponents have been looking forward to.

Jeff Brigham, Watada opponent says, "be even better at the end of the week when that weasel Watada is thrown in prison."

"What would happen to our military if they all decided they didn't want to go this war or that country," says Shelley Weber, a Watada opponent.

Undoubtedly Watada did disobey orders, but he claims they were not legal. Last June, he refused to deploy and said in a videotape doing so would make him party to war crimes.

Watada's attorney may have a hard time proving that point. Watada will be tried by a panel of officers of his rank or higher. Deliberations haven't begun, but already the judged has refused to allow Watada to make a defense stating the war is illegal. Judge John Head also ruled today to exclude several expert witnesses Watada hoped to call.

When the judge ruled against watada's expert witness, Watada's Attorney Eric Seitz tore into the judge.

A Lieutenant Colonel John Head, saying "This is flatly wrong, I have a right under the manual and the constitution, we're wasting our time in this courtroom, you have tied our hands, it's judicial misconduct."