On March 6, the court-martial will begin in
Before his first deployment to
When Aguayo and his wife, Helga, saw an article on the Internet about conscientious objector Stephen Funk, they realized that Aguayo was a conscientious objector.
After he applied to be a conscientious objector three years ago, Aguayo was sent to
A week after Aguayo’s habeas corpus petition was denied on August 24, 2006, his unit was slated to deploy to
Rather than court-martialing Aguayo, Army personnel told him he would be going to
In his statement to the Court of Appeals, Aguayo wrote: “In my last deployment, I witnessed how soldiers dehumanize the Iraqi people with words and actions. I saw countless innocent lives which were shortened due to the war. I still struggle with the senselessness of it all â€“ Iraqi civilians losing their lives because they drove too close to a convoy or a check point, soldiers’ being shot by mistake by their own buddies, misunderstandings (due to the language barrier) leading to death. This is not acceptable to me. It makes no sense that to better the lives of these civilians they must first endure great human loss. This, too, is clear and convincing evidence to me that all war is evil and harmful.”
“I also oppose war,” Aguayo added, “because I have seen first-hand the direct result of deployments to war zones. As a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, I have seen many veterans whose lives have been shattered. Many men came back with missing parts, and countless physical and emotional scars, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have personally seen my comrades come back to commit suicide, drink themselves to death, and develop a strong addiction to drugs. It is obvious to me that these menâ€™s lives were destroyed by war. What participation in war does to our own soldiers is another reason why war is fundamentally immoral and wrong.”
Aguayo received positive recommendations from the chaplain and Capt. Sean Foster, who held Aguayo’s conscientious objector hearing in
But the Court of Appeals sided with four officers who recommended Aguayo’s petition be denied. None of the four interviewed Aguayo. The appellate court mentioned that Aguayo was agnostic and cited a report that said Aguayo lacks a “religious foundation” to be a conscientious objector.
Aguayo, who was born in
AugustÃn Aguayo is represented by National Lawyers Guild lawyers James Klimaski, Peter Goldberger, and James Feldman. For more information on Aguayo’s case, see http://www.aguayodefense.org/.
Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the