Watada, whose supporters say is the first commissioned Army officer to refuse publicly to fight in Iraq, has
called the war illegal and immoral. He rejected conscientious objector status, saying he would be willing to fight in Afghanistan.
Government and defense lawyers laid out their arguments to a seven-member panel of officers, the equivalent
of a jury in a civilian trial, who will determine Watada's fate.
"The accused sat comfortably in his office while the soldiers in his unit deployed to Iraq," said Capt. Scott
Van Sweringen, the prosecuting attorney. "The manner and content of his statements were disgraceful."
Outside the gates of Fort Lewis, an Army base near Seattle, demonstrators supporting and opposing Watada waved
banners and held signs. One anti-Watada demonstrator held a sign that read "Jail Weasel Watada."
Inside the courtroom, Watada, 28, sat quietly wearing his formal dark-green dress uniform and answered most
of the judge's questions with either a "Yes sir," or "No sir."
The government called Lt. Col. Bruce Antonia, Watada's commander, as a witness. Antonia, who called Watada
"a smart, generally hard-working officer," said he was disappointed that the defendant went public with his comments after
promising in private not to create a media frenzy.
Watada does not deny that he refused to go to Iraq, criticized the war and accused U.S. President George W. Bush's administration of deceiving the American people to enter into a war of aggression.
"There are no real facts in dispute here," said Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz. "The only real question is why."
The defense aims to show that Watada acted on principle and tried to avoid a public confrontation with the
Army by offering to resign his commission or fight elsewhere.
Seitz told reporters on Monday he would consider a lighter sentence for Watada as a victory after the military
judge limited the scope of the defense strategy.
The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, denied the defense's motion to argue the legality of the war, saying it was
not a matter for a military court. He also disallowed the defense's entire witness list as irrelevant.
The two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer stem from public comments Watada made encouraging soldiers
"to throw down their weapons" to resist an authoritarian government at home.
Defense lawyers had intended to argue that his comments were free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The judge decided prior to the trial that there are limits to an officer's rights to free speech.
The military panel will decide whether Watada's criticism amounted to misconduct posing a danger to the loyalty,
discipline, mission and morale of the troops.
"He was acting out of his own conscience. He was not compelling anyone to act out," said Seitz. "At most,
he engaged in an act of civil disobedience."
The defense was expected to present its case on Wednesday. If a guilty verdict is returned, the trial will
enter the sentencing phase.