Skip to comments.The Only 'Murder' Here Was Of Justice
Posted on 08/05/2011 12:57:03 PM PDT by Kaslin
They are the forgotten warriors of the Iraq War, the men whose lives and families and careers blew up in "murder" charges on a vicious battlefield, the pieces coming down in Fort Leavenworth's military prison where the men now serve long sentences. Together, they make up the Leavenworth 10, not always at Leavenworth and not always 10, a group of cold-luck cases still working their way up the ladder of appeals and the clemency process, their families hoping to free them before many more years go by.
They all got bad news recently when word came that the Army Court of Appeals denied Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, 28, a new trial despite the introduction of exculpatory evidence originally withheld by the prosecution. Behenna faces 13 more years of a 15-year sentence for the unpremeditated 2008 "murder" of an insurgent who killed two of his men in post-surge Iraq, an al-Qaida terrorist for whom the Army would issue a kill/capture order before realizing he was already dead.
Why no new trial?
At almost the same time, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Juan Garcia overruled recommendations from the Naval Clemency and Parole Board and from brig officials at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station that Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins, 27, be granted early release. Hutchins has served more than five years on a 15-year sentence that was reduced to 11 years. The sentence was once recommended to be cut to five years, and once thrown out (he spent nine months free starting June 2010). He faces the balance of the 11-year-sentence for conspiracy and unpremeditated "murder" of a man he believed was the killer of Marines and civilians in pre-surge Iraq.
Why no parole?
I put quotation marks of incredulousness around "murder" because this was a war zone -- a chaotic, urban war zone in which counterinsurgency theory (COIN), winning hearts and minds, just didn't go according to the book. Those restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs) failed to impress jihadists or their clans with America's good intentions, and the schizoid mishmash of firepower, nation-building, harsh interrogations, bribery, police work and social work made our forces pawns of an untenable policy. These young men shouldn't be the ones to pay for that policy. We should use this week's one-two punch of "military justice" for some national soul-searching. It's the least we can do for men who risked everything for our country.
The two cases are quite different, but they share more than miscarriages of justice. Reading back before the judicial nightmares began is to follow two warriors contending with a basic COIN flaw: the notorious practice known as catch-and-release, the opaque, bureaucratic process by which U.S. forces risked their lives to "arrest" insurgents on the back-alley battlefield only to see them released to kill again for "lack of evidence." In both Behenna's and Hutchins' cases (and others), catch-and-release was the ultimate manifestation of chaotic command and no control, and served as a common trigger of events. Behenna himself had to drive home the very insurgent known to be responsible for the IED (crude, handmade bomb) that recently killed two of his men. He decided to perform one more interrogation himself during which the insurgent rushed him, at which point Behenna fired. This is the self-defense scenario supported by the prosecution's own forensics expert. It was suppressed at Behenna's trial and ignored on appeal.
Hutchins' case is more complex, involving an eight-man plot to "snatch" and kill a "prince" of the insurgency, someone responsible for everything from IEDs to recruiting suicide bombers. Again, it was catch-and-release, and not for the first time, that lit the fuse for this Marine squad. They caught the terrorist and then, on release, had to drive him home. They later decided to fake an incident in which the "prince's" killing would be ROE-lawful. While Hutchins waited in ambush, the wrong man was seized, they all shot at him and then covered up the incident. No Marine was confined for more than 525 days except Hutchins (11 years).
Hutchins also drew a rebuke from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who, while Hutchins appealed and sought clemency, slandered him as a premeditated and indiscriminate murderer. Hutchins lawyer, Maj. Babu Kaza, points out that Hutchins was found guilty of neither allegation and that Mabus' unprecedented public comments constitute "unlawful command influence" on the workings of justice.
At least that's what the military calls these nightmares. Do you?
Hey Kaslin. You do know my nephew, Sgt. Evan Vela, is one of the Leavenworth 10?
No I didn’t know that. I hope everything will turn out alright for him.
He’s still alive, eh? And he only got 10. Really good now that they have changed the rules for the freshman class and made the mandatory minimum LIFE.
Another piece by Diana West.
Thanks for the ping. Good to see someone writing about this disgraceful mess. It needs to somehow get out in the open.
She’s written several pieces over the last several years.
We’ve tried to get it more onto a national stage. Col. Allen West is/was supposed to be getting it in front of the Armed Services Committee.
It is worse than disgraceful. And the perpetrators have a lot to answer for.
I've always caught a whiff of "political show trial, Chicago-style" about these proceedings.
Although, to carry them off in true Chicago style, Obozo would have staged them at 2 a.m. in an empty warehouse with a rubber truncheon.
I first learned about Lt Behenna’s case in this article from 2009 by Joan Swirsky from Canada Free Press.
You just have to keep on pushing.
And copy Bush?
Do you know anything about Andy Holmes or David Lawrence?
Both of these freshmen are like dead men walking.
David's case pisses me off so much I shouldn't begin to speak. With The Holy O rushing off to suck Karzai's 0!3k in appeasement.
Watch for as many plea agreements as the new ones can muster. Just think of all the money us taxpayers will save by not having long, long prosecutions the government can hardly afford, BUT WILL.
Search FR keyword Vela. The articles I've posted about Evan. Do the same for Behenna. Maybe you have on Michael's.
I just got an update on Andy Holmes. But it is NOT for general distribution.
Some really good people are involved here.
Kas, this cr@p started under GW, and his rules of engagement for the practitioners of the religion of pieces.
When a JAG goes with a unit, it is not to protect our men.
JAGs don’t go out pressing for indictments. It’s up to the commander to decide whether to charge someone.
So it’s President Bush’s fault, huh?
Unlawful Command Influence. Mabus learned at the knee of the serial defamer John Murtha, after all. Mabus loved Murtha's methods so much he named a damn ship after the disgusting old gasbag. Birds of a treasonous feather, and our warfighters suffer because of it.
YES IT IS. But you can bet for all his I love the troops line he ain't losing any sleep.
Murtha's defaming comment about the Haditha Marines being "cold blooded killers" and Mabus's defaming comment about Hutchins being a premeditated and indiscriminate murderer come from federal officials in our government that have taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.
In my view if they didn't break their oaths with those statements they came damned close and neither were or are worthy of their positions.
No. They broke them (oaths) and the law. Just wasn’t anyone in a higher authority who disagreed.
The New York Times printed an article in May of last year entitled US Tries to Reintegrate Taliban Soldiers.
Now we move forward to this year (2011). I am in the process of getting the audio/video of this testimony of Admiral Mcraven, but you will notice that the Admiral stated the policy was to release the terrorists to their elders with no pledge signed. (Not that the pledge would be followed anyway.)
Here is the article on Admiral Mcravens testimony from June of this year:
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
We all know the members of Congress are on August recess now, but many of us may have the opportunity to attend Town Halls and/or events where we might get to talk to our representatives. That would be the perfect time to ask them why our own soldiers are kept in prison for doing their job, while we release terrorists to return to battle to fight our troops again! Why not let Michael Behenna and our other soldiers at Leavenworth sign a pledge that they won't return to battle and release them to their elders...ie, their moms and dads?
Here is a link with ALL Representatives in the US House by state and district. Please start emailing and calling, even if your call is just leaving a message.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.