You know — like what we’re supposed to do with the guys in Gitmo soon? Yeah — that’s workin’ out pretty good for this Ranger:
- April 21, 2008: Lt. Behenna’s platoon was attacked by Al Qaeda operatives. The attack resulted in death of two of Lt. Behenna’s platoon members, two Iraqi citizens, and wounded two additional soldiers under Lt. Behenna’s command.
- May 5, 2008: Known terrorist Ali Mansur was detained at his home for suspected involvement in the attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon
- May 16, 2008: Army Intelligence orders the release of Mansur
- Lt. Behenna, who lost two members of his platoon just weeks earlier, was ordered to transport Mansur back to his home
- Lt. Behenna attempts a final interrogation of Mansur prior to his release
- During the interrogation, Behenna is attacked by Mansur and is forced to defend himself. During the altercation, the terrorist is killed.
Lt. Behenna failed to properly report the incident
- July 2008: The U.S. Army charges Lt. Behenna with premeditated murder for the death of Al Qaeda operative and terrorist Ali Mansur.
- February 23, 2009: Lt. Behenna’s trial begins
- Government and defense experts agree on the trajectory of the bullets killing Mansur
- Prosecution expert Dr. Herbert MacDonnell initiated contact with defense attorneys explaining his agreement with the testimony of Lt. Behenna and his presentation to prosecutors supporting Lt. Behenna’s version of events.
- Dr. MacDonnell is then not called to testify in the case
- Jack Zimmermann, defense counsel, asks prosecutors if they have any exculpatory evidence that should be provided to the defense (referring to Dr. MacDonnell’s demonstration). Prosecutors deny having any such evidence.
- Prosecutors withholding of this evidence allowed them to argue that Lt. Behenna executed Ali Mansur while seated when the forensic experts, including Dr. MacDonnell, agree that Ali was standing with his arms outstretched when shot
- Lt. Behenna is convicted of unpremeditated murder and assault by a military panel of seven officers, none of whom had combat experience.
- On March 20, the judge denied defense motions to declare a mistrial and to order a new trialLt.
- Behenna is currently serving a 25-year sentence
1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was an excellent officer. He received his call to serve his country while attending the University of Central Oklahoma. He is from a family of public servants, his mother being an Assistant United States Attorney and his father a retired Special Agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He has served the Army and the United States with honor and dignity.
To sacrifice the life of this Oklahoma soldier over the death of a known terrorist, is a breech of faith with all who are serving our country.
My own thoughts here:
- Lieutenant Mike “failed to properly document the event” where the terrorist is killed. That’s more than a bit vague. Did he only give a verbal report instead of a written report? Did he use the wrong form? Did he file the report a day late? Did he not use his full payroll signature when signing the report? The military, as a branch of the United States government, is a bureacracy of it’s own, and just as convoluted and labrynthine as it can be. This sounds to me more like “piling on charges” than any deliberate attempt to conceal evidence . However, it’s an essential point to the government proving it’s “premeditation” case. Hence, that’s why they charge him with an essentially “bullshit” charge.
- That the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence — evidence that would have proven the innocence of Lieutenenat Mike — is not only improper conduct for an Army Officer — it is an offence that can get a lawyer disbarred. (Make me wonder if they did this on their own, really.)
- And whatever happened to a “jury of their peers” exactly? I understand that all Army courts-martial are either adjudicated by either a panel of military judges or a jury of officers — but all of the officers had no prior combat experience??? In today’s Army, where some units have rotated overseas 4 or 5 times???
Was this jury hand-picked by somebody?
You can read a LOT more on Lieutenant Mike’s case HERE, including all the official court documents, more photos, and a link to donate to his defense fund.
And spread the word. Don’t let this officer languish in prison for a paperwork error, for God’s sake.