Enemy treated more fairly then American troops (two articles)
US Army Lt Michael Behenna was court martialled for what he says was a shooting in self-defense of an Al Quaeda terrorist who tried to throw a piece of concrete at him then grab his weapon. Behenna was holding the (alleged) terrorist at gunpoint, a Glock handgun to be exact, and he opened fire killing the terrorist. Behenna claims self-defense, the army says it was murder. The case is sketchy and much of the evidence is unclear, as there are several differing accounts of the incident available to the public.
We have been in this fight together for the past two years and your encouragement and support has been the driving force behind all we have been able to accomplish. Last year, the Clemency Board gave Michael a reduction of 5 years off his 20 year sentence. On December 2nd we again pleaded Michael’s case before the Army Clemency Board.
We pointed out to them that Michael’s sentence was 50% larger than the highest sentence given to any soldier convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. We also addressed Michael’s unblemished record in prison for the past two years, his many accomplishments while incarcerated, and his unblemished civilian record. We stressed that he was not a threat to anyone and offered many letters of reference including those from the Governor of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Attorney General, Law Enforcement Agency Heads, and all of the supporters who took the time to write letters of support for Michael. In addition, the entire Oklahoma Congressional Delegation offered their support for Michael’s clemency. We also had three letters of immediate employment for Michael upon his release. After our arguments to the Clemency Board, the Board had no additional uncompleted factors for Michael, and the Chairman of the Clemency Board stated that Michael had “turned the corner.”
Unfortunately, on December 22nd, Michael was notified that all of our efforts fell on deaf ears and he was denied even ONE day of clemency by the Clemency Board and the Secretary of the Army John McHugh. We have no idea why they denied Michael’s clemency request and can only surmise that the Secretary of the Army desires Michael to spend a substantial amount of time in prison.
Michael’s Appeal Hearing before the Army Appeal Court took place on December 9th in Washington, DC.... In the Appeal’s Hearing the Army seemed to be taking a new position on the facts of the case. During Michael’s trial in February 2009 the crux of the entire case revolved around whether Ali Mansur was sitting and executed or standing and reaching for Michael’s gun. The Army prosecutor’s theory was that Michael executed Mansur while Mansur sat on a rock in a culvert. Michael’s testimony was that he was questioning Mansur in the culvert when Mansur stood up and lunged for his weapon. The Army prosecutors claimed Michael’s testimony was “impossible” and “self-serving” despite all the forensic evidence supporting Michael’s version (including their own expert witness who they sent home rather than have testify.)
During the appeal’s hearing the Army seemed to back away from its original theory stating that even if Mansur was standing and reaching for Michael’s weapon Michael would still be guilty of murder because he lost his right to defend himself by pointing a loaded gun at Mansur. Telling a soldier that they lost their right to defend themselves in a war zone….against a known terrorist… is just plain crazy talk by people who have never been in harm’s way.
It reinforces the point made by a newly elected Congressman who said that soldiers have to watch their back against JAG officers even more than an enemy that is trying to kill them. But the most disappointing thing we learned at the hearing was that a decision on Michael’s appeal could take as long as 15 months.
I promise you as we have promised Michael: we will never cease fighting for Michael’s freedom no matter how high or how hard the climb...
We appreciate the many letters to Michael inspiring him to fight through this ordeal. We encourage you to continue to write to him with your kind words of support (his prison address can be found on the website defendmichael.com.) Also please continue to write to your Congressmen and Senators to ensure that they are aware of your feelings about our government treating its enemies better than we treat our bravest heroes.
Here are some articles by two writers who attended the Appellate Hearing:
In a critical hearing for 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, the Edmond soldier's attorney argued Thursday that Behenna's 2009 conviction for unpremeditated murder should be overturned because key evidence was withheld and the judge failed to give the jury proper instructions.
Read more: http://newsok.com/michael-behennas-attorney-argues-for-reversal-of-conviction-says-edmond-soldier-didnt-get-a-fair-trial/article/3522296#ixzz19HeqfPs0
The New York Times recently reported (see link below) that the US military has initiated a policy to “reintegrate” imprisoned Taliban fighters to their Afghan communities. These Taliban fighters were caught with evidence that they had killed our soldiers, but are released to their families in an active war zone with merely a ‘pledge’ that they will not return to the Taliban. This appears to be the latest attempt to win the hearts and minds of our enemies and taking the ‘catch and release policy’ to a whole new level.
This brings us to Michael’s case. Michael has been incarcerated by the Army for over a year now. We have asked at every level that Michael’s constitutional right to a fair trial be granted so that all the evidence is disclosed to the jury. Doesn’t seem too much to ask for an American citizen who fought for his country does it? Yet Michael’s request for a new trial has been stranded. The Army seems to be in no hurry to have Michael’s case in front of the Army Court of Appeals as they have yet to file their response to Michael’s brief which was filed back in December 2009.
There is a double standard in play here where enemy combatants are given mercy, but our soldiers/Marines are denied mercy. For example, Marine SGT Larry Hutchins whose conviction was overturned several weeks by the Navy Appellate Court is STILL IN CUSTODY while the Navy appeals the decision to the next appellate level.
During the past year we have come to know the families of the other soldiers/Marines who have been charged and convicted of ‘murder’ of Al-Qaeda or insurgents while in a combat zone. We have watched as these soldiers/Marines and their families prepare for clemency hearings before the military clemency boards. (The Armed Forces have a procedure, independent of the appellate process, where an incarcerated soldier/Marine can appear before a clemency board and ask for a reduction of his sentence, or if the individual has served at least 1/3 of his sentence they may request parole.)
We have heard the hopelessness in the voices of the families when they learn that their son or husband will not receive ANY reduction in their sentence. It is difficult for these military families to know that based on a ‘solemn’ pledge Taliban fighters are released by theSAME US military leadership and allowed to return home to their families. What message does the US military send when we punish our own soldiers more harshly then we punish the combatants who have killed our brave men and women on the front lines of this war on terrorism?
Many of the soldiers/Marines I am speaking of, including our son, would never find themselves involved in the criminal justice system but for their combat experience. These soldiers/Marines do not have previous criminal histories, and their military records are replete with honorable service including purple hearts, bronze stars, and multiple deployments in defense of our country. Some of these soldiers fell victim to the military’s ‘catch and release’ policy that returns enemy combatants to the battlefield
where they return to fight our soldiers time and time again. Yet others were protecting themselves or their men in a combat zone. Even if they made mistakes in judgment during war, should they be sentenced to 10-40 years while the enemy is totally forgiven? Why shouldn’t the SAME military leadership afford our combat soldiers/Marines a second chance!
If the US military will release Taliban fighters simply on a pledge by their families that they will not rejoin the Taliban then we ask the same for our troops. These soldiers/Marines are not a threat to our society and deserve to be home with their families. We ask that you the American public stand with us. Our request is that each of you vouch for these soldiers/Marines and demand that our military extend the same mercy to them as they did to the enemy combatants who are trying to kill our soldiers every day.
Please write a letter to your Senator, Congressman, and the Secretary of Defense and advise them that this double-standard will not be tolerated.
NY Times Article – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/world/asia/24reconcile.html?src=mv
Diana West Article on releasing the Taliban –http://www.dianawest.net/Home/tabid/36/EntryId/1415/Clemency-for-Our-Troops.aspx
Please use this link to find your Congressional Delegates:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400
Click to view image: 'mb'
|The poll already expired - voting is no longer possible!|
|There's not enough evidence for a conviction|
|Liveleak on Facebook|