1st Lt. Michael Behenna: Now is the Time for Justice

by ROS PRYNN January 8, 2010
Yesterday in Washington, D.C., Army Ranger 1st Lt Michael Behenna's case came up for a clemency hearing. This American hero is serving a 25-year sentence for a crime he did not commit. That's right: this American soldier is another in an ever growing list of American soldiers convicted as criminals for doing the job for which the U.S. Army trained him.
I can hardly wait when all of the libtards in the military are "removed from service".
Sound familiar? Murtha must be proud.
The Story ...
On March 20th, 2009, 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. The “victim”, Ali Mansur, was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation, and was suspected to have organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.
During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.
I have heard Michael's mother, Vicki, and 1st Lt. Behenna's girlfriend, Shannon talk about the struggle for justice for this Airborne Ranger. You can find archives on this case over at Do The Right Thing.
In June 2009, I wrote this:
Here we go again. Back in March, I highlighted a piece that Snooper had written about this travesty. You can go here for that. Now, from Family Security Matters comes this:
Imagine that you’ve learned in your local newspaper and on TV that a serial murderer is stalking and killing people in your community. Anxious and concerned for the safety of your family, you buy a gun.
Then your worst nightmare happens. Lying in bed and drifting off to sleep, you hear a loud sound downstairs – the unmistakable explosion of your front door being battered down and the menacing footsteps of an intruder climbing the stairs to your bedroom. You cock your already-loaded gun, and when the thug lunges at you, you shoot.
Now dead, he is positively identified as the man who murdered the other people in your town… and you are hailed as a hero.
You don’t consider yourself a hero at all, but simply a regular citizen protecting his family. When polls are taken about what you did, 90 percent of people say they would have done the same thing, six percent say they would have “reasoned” with the intruder, and another four percent said, “I don’t know.”
But theory has no place in the real world of American soldiers who have volunteered to protect and defend our country and are faced not with neighborhood thugs but with al Qaeda terrorists who have told the entire world that their Number One mission is to kill all the “infidels” – particularly Americans – who disagree with their Islamist agenda of establishing a Muslim-driven Caliphate of Islamic “law” in the Western world...."
To follow this story is to really wonder WTH is going on. To see how the trial was conducted, and how this hero's rights were trampled and ignored, is a damning indictment of the very country 1Lt Behenna swore an oath to protect. It really IS an obscenity. Family Security Matters has this excellent write up on this gross miscarriage of justice of yet another of America's finest.
They end with:
The Behennas and their many supporters have mobilized to help Michael and they urge everyone to contact his or her elected official to make sure that justice is done. And because the government has limitless resources but they don’t, they’ve established a Legal Defense Fund to help their efforts.
1LT Michael Behenna Legal Defense Fund
c/o Jack Dawson, co-trustee
100 Park Avenue, Second Floor
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102-8099
Rachel Lawrence Mor, co-trustee
3037 N.W. 63rd Street, Suite 251
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73116
Many are taking notice of what has been done to Michael Behenna. Many are crying foul as our troops are being unjustly prosecuted for doing what they are trained to do: ridding the world of terrorists. (Haditha, or most recently, Navy SEALS anyone?)
Back in October, 2009, Canada Free Press had this to say:
This one stinks out loud. I am referring to the military trial of Army Ranger 1Lt. Michael Behenna of Oklahoma for the charge of murder of an Al Qaeda operative in Iraq in which military prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence provided by the military prosecution’s own expert witness from the defense team until after the trial wrapped up. As a likely result, Behenna, 25, was sentenced in March of this year to 25 years in prison for unpremeditated murder.
Bright spot: tireless parents (mother on team that convicted Timothy McVeigh, father former state investigator) and the entire Oklahoma Congressional Delegation, now pressing the clemency board for fair treatment. Details (petition, defense fund info, and news, including a recent, compelling LA Times two-part story on the case) at Defend Michael.
Go here to read all the background on this.
Now is crucial time as to whether Michael Behenna will see freedom, justice. Again, from Snooper:
WASHINGTON — Vicki Behenna has 10 minutes to plead her son’s case.
Where does she begin?
In the last few months, she has developed hours of arguments about why U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was wrongly convicted of killing a suspected terrorist in Iraq in 2008, why his 20-year sentence for unpremeditated murder was too severe compared to other sentences for the same offense and why the military rules for detaining suspected terrorists make no sense in a combat zone.
She will have to condense all that into a matter of minutes when she appears Thursday before the Army Clemency and Parole Board in Arlington, Va.
Vicki Behenna, of Edmond, is a federal prosecutor — she was part of the team that won conviction of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh — so she knows something about making concise and cogent arguments in a legal setting. When she appears before the clemency board, though, it will be “as his mom,” she said last week.
She said she has been given 10 minutes to address the board and that she will focus primarily on the length of her son’s sentence for unpremeditated murder. Though she hasn’t been able to find a central data bank of courtmartial sentences, she said the longest other recent sentence she could find for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone was 11 years. Her son originally received a 25-year sentence, which was reduced to 20 years. Michael Behenna, who is 26, is serving that sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The clemency hearing is just one of the legal routes being pursued by Behenna and her husband, Scott.
Houston attorney Jack Zimmerman recently filed an appeal claiming Michael Behenna’s conviction should be overturned, in part because prosecutors didn’t turn over evidence that would have corroborated Behenna’s story that he shot the victim in self-defense. The evidence was the opinion of a renowned expert on bloodstains.[emphasis mine]
The Behennas have also enlisted Oklahoma attorneys and elected officials to write letters to military leaders and the clemency board urging that Lt. Behenna’s case be handled fairly and according to legal principles.
Behenna suspected that Ali Mansur had been involved in planting a roadside bomb that killed two members of his platoon and wounded others.
Behenna had arrested Ali Mansur at his home, and Behenna was the one ordered to take Ali Mansur back home when he was released from custody.
Behenna shot and killed Ali Mansur that night after questioning him. Prosecutors said it was an execution; Behenna claimed Ali Mansur had been trying to grab Behenna’s gun.
The case has received national media attention and has been taken up as a cause on some Web sites, including one started by the Behennas called DefendMichael.com; a petition posted on the site seeking a new trial for Lt. Behenna has more than 6,500 signatures.
Bev Perlson, whose son has served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and who started a group called Band of Mothers, accompanied Vicki Behenna to lawmakers’ offices on Capitol Hill in early December. Perlson features Lt. Behenna’s case promi nently on her Web site and said in an interview last week that she is encouraging veterans and others to show up at the hearing on Thursday.
Though the public is not allowed into the hearing, Perlson said it would be an important show of support just to have people outside the building.
“It just breaks my heart what happened to Michael,” she said. ...
It’s heartbreaking to see yet another of America's finest denied the justice that they serve to bring to other countries around the world.
The hearing is now over, and we await the verdict. We shall see if justice for our soldiers is just empty rhetoric, or if we really do believe in the values upon which the United States of America was founded.
As Snooper says: pay attention!
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Ros Prynn is a journalist/writer/editor, who is also writing three books. Her travels, paired with her warped British sense of humor, have shaped her world view. If you listen very carefully, you might hear her singing: “I proudly stand up next to you…” to her American “family” and friends. She has an international readership (including the U.S. State Dept.) and you can find her own blog at http://assolutatranquillita.blogspot.com/.  

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