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Oct 21

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 5:45 AM 

This one stinks out loud. I am referring to the military trial of Army Ranger 1Lt. Michael Behanna 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, Behanna, 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.

An aside: One of the many reasons I came to harbor animosity toward George W. Bush was for the way he, the commander-in-chief, let so many of the soldiers he sent into war twist in the vortex of political correctness and political appeasement. I can think of so many men President Bush turned his back on when they needed his support and, of course, pardons, and I know my list is incomplete: Col. Allen West, Lt. Ilario Pantano, the Haditha Marines, Sgt. Evan Vela, Larry Hutchins, Marine X, the Fallujah Marines, Capt. Roger Hill ... The Navy SEALS immortalized in Marcus Luttrell's book Lone Survivor belong on this list as well. Who can forget that one of the reasons the 4-man SEAL team, compromised deep in Taliban territory, didn't kill the Afghan man and boy who had discovered their hiding place, was fear of military prosecution at home?

End result? 19 Americans miliitary men dead in an epic wartime disaster. But there was no "crime" committed that day to prosecute, either -- and that's what counts in the shameful world of military justice. The SEALs feared the Taliban fighters who would ultimately overwhelm them shortly after they released the man and boy less than they feared a JAG team that would have thrown the book at them if they had lived through the mission. Looking at Michael Behenna's outrageous treatment, among the others, it's easy to see why.

This can't go on.





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