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Aug 23

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 1:49 PM 

In the Iraq War on Defendants, killers go free. Captain John McKenna, left, was shot and killed by an Iraqi sniper while helping mortally wounded Lance Cpl. Michael Glover. The sniper responsible for both of their deaths was recently released by an Iraqi court. Today, the McKenna and Glover families marked their fifth anniversary of their deaths with a memorial in Rockaway.

From the New York Daily News:

The families had been assured that "as long as there is a Marine in Iraq, the sniper will remain in jail." Their already overwhelming loss has been compounded by the failure of the Defense Department to inform them that Muhammad (Big Ears) Awwad Ahmad had been released.

"Not to have called me or notified me," said McKenna's father, John McKenna 3rd. "Sort of like a kick in the gut."

The families learned of the release only in a response to a May 16 letter the elder McKenna wrote to then Defense Secretary Robert Gates. McKenna noted that the sniper had been captured by his son's fellow Marines.

"The temptation to get instant justice was strong," he wrote, "but his Marines told me, 'Capt. McKenna taught us that if we turn in an insurgent we might get more intelligence which will lead to additional captures and confiscation of weapons and plans.'"

The father went on to say that the last he had heard, the sniper had been incarcerated at Camp Bucca.

"Since our armed forces have a much reduced role in Iraq, I am not sure [of] the status of the sniper's case," his letter continued. "My family and the family of Lance Cpl. Michael Glover very much hope that you would be able to provide us with updates as to the status of this individual."

Almost three months later, the father got a response in the form of a four-paragraph letter dated Aug. 4, 2011, from William Lietzau, deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and detainee policy.

"Consistent with our legal obligations under [the] Iraq Security Agreement, Ahmad was transferred to Government of Iraq control in June 2010 pursuant to an Iraqi criminal warrant. ... Ahmad's case was reviewed by an Iraqi court, and he was ordered released on October 25, 2010, because of a lack of evidence."

The overwhelming but ignored evidence against Ahmad included a physical characteristic that made him eminently identifiable to the Marines who tracked him down after the killings. ....

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