Back in 2010, I wrote here about Pvt. Corey Clagett, a prisoner of the US military at Ft. Leavenworth. Pvt. Clagett was convicted of the crime of following an unlawful order and killing two al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq. His superior who ordered the killings is free on parole, and the man who killed a third one is not only free but has been promoted. Corey, the most junior of all those involved received an 18-year-sentence and a dishonorable discharge.
Corey, the most junior of them, Corey, the least prepared, Corey, the youngest, Corey, who has been made to pay more than anyone else for this crime, has now spent over four years in solitary confinement. It's not by any measure fair.
Corey, I find from visiting the admirable United American Patriots website, has a clemency hearing coming up on or about February 2. I am going to write a letter on his behalf according to the instructions (below) from his lawyer, Timothy C. Parlatore, with whom I've had the chance to discuss Corey's case at length over the years. If you feel moved to urge the US military to give Corey clemency -- as it has done for literally thousands of Iraqi and Afghan insurgents -- please do so as quickly as possible (this weekend would be ideal) because the hearing is coming up very soon.
From UAP's Clemency for Corey page:
Timothy C. Parlatore writes:
In January, Corey Clagett will have his initial hearing in front of the Fort Leavenworth staff. At that hearing, he will answer questions posed by the staff, who will then forward their recommendations to the Army Clemency and Parole Board in Arlington, VA. Corey’s attorney, Timothy Parlatore will then be appearing before the Board in Virginia, most likely on February 2 to argue for both clemency and parole. Corey’s attorney feels confident about these hearings, but still needs your help. We still need you to write letters.
While the focus of this submission will not be to contest the charges, you should know that I feel that Corey has an extremely persuasive case to bring before the Clemency Board.
At this juncture, it is helpful for those who wish to support Corey to write letters on Corey’s behalf to the Army Clemency and Parole Board. The goal is for people who support Corey’s clemency to write letters that express in simple but detailed terms why they believe Corey should be released. As such, I have put together some instructions to guide and assist you in writing a support letter on Corey’s behalf. I have included what I believe to be the best reasons for Corey’s clemency and I encourage you to adopt one of my theories and tell the board in your own words why this cause is important to you.
There are a number of considerations addressed below which are significant in connection with these letters. The important points are as follows:
- The letter should be addressed but not sent to:
Chairman, Army Clemency and Parole Board
1901 South Bell Street
Arlington, VA 22202-4508
Letters should either be delivered or sent to:
Timothy Parlatore, Esq.
260 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10016
The letters will be submitted to the Army Clemency and Parole Board along with other information pertinent to Corey’s case.
- The beginning of the letter should indicate that you are writing the letter in connection with Corey Clagett’s petition for clemency. It is important to state this in the letter so that the Parole Board will understand that you know the situation and, nevertheless, are willing to put yourself on record for Corey.
- The letter should briefly indicate who you are, what your occupation is, if any, and how you came to learn about this case.
- In your letter, you may refer to Corey as “Corey,” “PFC Clagett,” or “Mr. Clagett.”
- The letter should then indicate the reason Corey’s story has led you to write a support letter on his behalf. Tailoring your reason for support to one of my four arguments for Corey’s clemency will allow Corey’s petition to be coherent and persuasive. Here are the arguments I will make:
- The punishment does not fit the crime. Corey was placed in a war zone. In this environment and under these circumstances, his crime should not be punished with nearly the same severity as would a murder committed outside a war zone. Therefore, Corey’s punishment of 18 years should be shortened to the 4 years he has already served in solitary confinement.
- The punishment should be structured to rehabilitate, not destroy, Corey’s psychological state. Like most soldiers who have gone to war, Corey suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Instead of receiving treatment, Corey has served his sentence in solitary confinement for the past four years. As such, we are requesting that Corey’s status be upgraded to General Discharge, so that he may be transferred from the prison to an inpatient psychiatric facility with the Veterans Affairs Hospital.
- Corey’s punishment is disproportionately harsher than those who were involved in the crime and those who have engaged in similar crimes. SSG Girouard, Corey’s immediate superior who ordered the killing, received a sentence of 10 years in confinement and is already out on parole. SPC Graber, a member of Corey’s squad who killed the third detainee, served a sentence of 9 months confinement, was retained in the service, and has since been promoted. Corey Clagett, the most junior of all those involved, received a sentence of 18 years and Dishonorable Discharge.
- Corey’s cooperation in the criminal prosecution deserves a substantial sentence reduction. Unlike civilian judges, military judges do not have the discretion to sentence defendants below the statutory minimum if defendant’s cooperated with authorities. That discretion rests solely with the convening authority and with the Army Clemency and Parole Board. The great weight of evidence shows a legislative intent to decrease sentences for cooperative defendants. In light of Congressional intent, and Corey’s open cooperation with the government in this matter, Corey’s sentence should be considered served.
With regard to the above arguments, I am not asking you to reargue these points to the board, for I will be articulating them in Corey’s petition. However, if any one of my arguments is the reason you decided to support Corey’s case, please explicitly state which argument and include details as to why that argument speaks personally to you.
- It is very helpful for a letter like this to be written in your own words with details relating to your experiences in life. The Clemency and Parole Board receives letters all the time on behalf of petitioners that are one paragraph long and recite, in a conclusory way, that the writer thinks the defendant deserves clemency. Without having some details as to why the writer thinks Clemency is proper in this case, a Clemency and Parole Board has no basis to know whether such a letter really counts for anything or is simply a case of someone doing a favor for the defendant. A letter that speaks from the heart and from personal experience, with details of actual incidents, can be a valuable asset to the defendant. However, we have also prepared a sample form letter which you can use.
- Finally, it is not necessary that the letter be typewritten. It can be handwritten but please make sure the Clemency and Parole Board can read your handwriting. If handwritten, please write on only one side of the page.
This is the ‘Clemency Sample Letter‘ in an Microsoft Word format that you may personalize and print out.
Clemency Sample Letter
1 Main Street
Chairman, Army Clemency and Parole Board
1901 South Bell Street
Arlington, VA 22202-4508
Dear Members of the Clemency and Parole Board,
I am writing to indicate my support for Corey Clagett’s in his upcoming clemency hearing on June 3, 2010. My name is W.T. Door and I am a musician from Anytown, USA. I learned about Corey’s case from listening to the Rick Amato radio show on KCBQ. Listening to the facts of Corey’s case, I felt that a grave injustice has taken place. I believe in the arguments of Corey’s attorney, Tim Parlatore, and hope that you find them persuasive as well.
First, I believe the American justice system should not punish soldiers, fighting to protect the very sacredness of that system, in the same way it punishes those who commit heinous crimes here within our own borders. A killing in the midst of war is not the same as a premeditated murder in the United States and the punishment should reflect this difference.
Second, instead of being locked up, I believe Corey needs psychological treatment from the VA. Even though Corey committed a wrong, I feel strongly that the four years in solitary confinement he has already served is more than enough and he now deserves rehabilitating treatment.
Third, as I understand it, Corey’s sentence is much longer than those who committed the crime with him, specifically the man who ordered Corey to kill the Iraqi. This information came as a complete shock to me, how is that justice?
Finally, I believe that Corey should receive a lower sentence because he chose to cooperate with the Government. Corey’s cooperation showed me that he was taking responsibility for his actions.
Thank you for giving me the chance to write on behalf of a cause I care deeply about. As an American, I hope that Corey’s clemency petition will be granted and that he will be released.
This is a sample of a real letter written by Mrs. BJA:
January 6, 2011
Army Clemency and Parole Board
1901 South Bell Street
Arlington, VA 22202-4508
c/o Timothy C. Parlatore, Esq.
260 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10016
I am writing on behalf of Corey Clagett’s petition for clemency.
I am a patriotic U.S. citizen interested in helping young men like Corey who have served their country see proper justice. Whether or not Corey is ‘guilty’ is not the main issue of my letter. The main issue is the harsh prison sentence, his treatment, and his mental deterioration in Ft. Leavenworth.
I personally write to Corey and a few of the other former soldiers to try to keep their spirits up. I cannot begin to imagine how they must feel to wake up every day locked in a jail cell — while we are giving numerous rights and privileges to non-uniformed enemies.
I was very angry at our justice system when I read about Corey and others like him in similar situations. These brave men are not “soldier machines,” – they are actually HUMAN and they can err. Who is perfect? Who has never made a mistake? What 20 year olds always have good judgment on every issue? These men are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s dad, etc. Are their lives LESS valuable than the lives of our enemies? It seems that way by the sentences our soldiers are given for things that happen in war. At the same time, we let vicious enemies – who would cut our heads off in an instant without a blink – flee on a mere ‘pledge’ that they won’t return. We have increasingly convoluted rules and poor to very bad leadership that treats our enemies as victims and makes our troops jobs impossible. People who have actually taken the time to read his story support Corey. “Armchair soldiers” judge him quickly without knowing the facts or – worse — without caring about learning the facts.
Please let me make myself clear: I am NOT advocating the ‘wanton’ killing of prisoners and I am not insinuating that actual “crimes” are never committed in a war zone. However, I do not believe this, in any way, was a “wanton killing” for the “thrill of it,” etc. I believe with all my heart that Corey was obeying orders.
The real question to ask is: Why are we taking so many prisoners in the first place and trying them in a court of law? Had Corey and his comrads just killed the men without first taking them prisoner, there would be no issue. We are imprisoning more and more American soldiers now than at any other time in our history. Is it because they have suddenly “lost all their morals?” NO. It’s a HUGE RED FLAG that our war policies and rules are convoluted and confusing. I also find it quite interesting indeed that higher ups are NEVER PUNISHED. Just the lowest ranking troops. Why is this? Because it is easy to use them as scapegoats for bad rules and policies and bad leadership? If we at least imprison some American soldiers, it looks to the world that we are “responsible” and ‘better than they are.’
I feel that Corey’s punishment/sentence has been and is beyond harsh considering this young inexperienced soldier was placed in a stressful, intense and deadly war zone. In this kind of situation I feel it highly unfair that his “crime” should not be judged with the same severity as a civilian murder. Corey’s sentence is harsher than a common criminal thug robbing a 7-11 store and killed a clerk to get cash! THESE SITUATIONS ARE NOT AT ALL SIMILAR nor should be judged in a similar way. Does the clemency board believe that Corey is a “common criminal” who had evil intentions? Most people don’t — I certainly don’t.
An 18 year prison sentence is almost as long as this young man has been on this earth. Child rapists and random killers get off much easier – and they have internet access and other privileges in civilian prisons. Corey is not – in any way- comparable to these “hardened criminals” with long records and no chance for rehabilitation. I believe you would agree with that. Although I understand his mental state is rapidly DETERIORATING, he is still young and able to lead a full and productive life, if given the chance. Corey has NO record of any criminal activity in his past. He was a normal young man who was thrown into a very complex situation with high level political maneuvering behind the scenes. This is not right or fair.
I’m sure this nightmare in Corey’s life was not a chapter he anticipated or desired when he volunteered to serve his country. When I read about his sentence and the years of solitary confinement, I was not only SHOCKED but very angry, as many are. Angry that our own government does not treat our own soldiers properly.
Experts say the most CRUEL thing you can do to a person is to socially isolate them. This is TORTURE and will create profound and lasting effects on a person’s psychological state. If torturing prisoners or detainees such as in Guantanamo Bay, is not allowed; why are we doing it to our own soldiers?! Is this the intention? Is the intention to punish appropriately or to break them down completely? I am honestly not sure at this point!
These young men that sign up for our military in combat positions have more guts and heart and patriotism than the average American — that is what our country is all about. I am thankful for young men like Corey willing to risk their LIVES AND LIMB. I support all of our soldiers — the vast majority of them are intelligent, patriotic Americans and very good people. Each and every one of them is precious to someone, deserving of basic constitutional rights, which are being denied by the broken system. Why do we treat those who would cut our heads off in an instant without a blink MORE rights and privileges than our own loyal American soldiers who fight for our country?
Keeping Corey incarcerated at this point does no good for anyone. He has served his time and then some! Corey is clearly not a “danger” to society. Keeping him incarcerated with his deteriorating mental state is nothing less than TORTURE. It hurts Corey, it hurts his family who has undergone very rough times including Corey’s brother who recently tried to take his own life.
Keeping him incarcerated will not UNDO what’s been done. It just causes more pain, more suffering. Does our military justice system want to be viewed as MONSTERS with a thirst for evil, or is it staffed by HUMANS — with a sense of fairness and compassion and taking into account the complexity and stress of this bad situation.
Personally, I believe that too many of our young soldiers like Corey are used as scapegoats for bad “rules” and irresponsible leadership. This is wrong. Corey’s “sentence” should be to rehabilitate him, not to destroy this young man’s psychological state — even further. To destroy one’s psychological state is something a Communist country would do – like Cuba, Iran, etc – not our country that is supposed to be fair and just.
Five years of solitary confinement has broken this young man’s spirit and caused him to be severely depressed. I feel so strongly about this since hearing about this case, I have written many letters to advocate for 1) Full constitutional rights for our American soldiers, 2) Fair and just sentences, and 3) the dissolution of solitary confinement in the USA. Solitary confinement is very cruel to do to animals, studies have shown monkeys will go crazy as to be expected; let alone human beings! This kind of treatment is NOT something that fits the morals and values of mercy in the United States of America in any way, shape or form. This kind of treatment of our soldiers, our sons, our husbands, our brothers, is NOT representative – in any way — of the great U.S.A. I am ASHAMED of our military justice system.
Corey is HUMAN and has been punished and suffered enough for his “crime.” Not only from stressful and complex military operations, but PTSD, which has been proven to affect judgment; and second, from his horrid treatment during his pre-trial — keeping him in shackles 23/7 with the lights on – and now– solitary confinement. Can it get worse?! We don’t even treat our enemies this badly! How can we expect our young men, who are not even experienced in life, to always know what to do, especially when they have been traumatized by the very places and situations our military has put them. This makes waterboarding look like a walk in the park.
I have also learned that Corey’s punishment is disproportionately harsher than those who were involved in this situation and those who have been involved in similar military operation situations. WHY? Corey was the most junior of all those involved yet received the longest sentence and has been dishonorably discharged. This does not seem fair at all. Corey’s honesty and cooperation in the criminal prosecution deserves a substantial sentence reduction.
As a side note, I know that many parents and others of loved ones are not so sure about supporting their loved ones decision to join our military anymore. They are quickly learning that if they get involved in something bigger than themselves, they might go to prison. Why should anyone volunteer to fight wars for our country if they often have to choose between getting KIA (and then are considered a hero) — or risk being imprisoned with harsh and cruel sentences if you make a mistake or get involved in something beyond your control.
Keeping in mind the suffering and torture this young man has endured for the past 5 years of his young life – while many his age went to college to party with their parents money, etc, etc. keep in mind Corey’s honesty and cooperation, his willingness to accept responsibility, etc. consider his sentence as served and release him so he may receive the psychological help he now so desperately needs – to heal himself and his family.
Thank you for listening to a patriotic citizen who supports our soldiers – our loyal young men (and women) who so bravely and valiantly fight for the very freedoms we too often deny them. They deserve better. Much better. And Allen West agrees. I can only hope West will be our next Commander in Chief.