A November update from Scott and Vicki Behenna (which I missed it when it arrived in my inbox last month):
To the thousands of supporters of 1Lt Michael Behenna,
It has been awhile since we sent out an update. Michael's lawyers have filed the petition to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF). The CAAF is the highest court for the military justice system and is similar to the Supreme Court as they do not have to take your appeal. There were four issues on Michael's case presented to the CAAF and we would expect to hear within 30-60 days whether the CAAF will hear his case. If the CAAF does not choose to hear any of the issues, then Michael’s appeals are done. So you can see the importance of this appeal. We desperately need your prayers so that Michael’s conviction will be seen by the CAAF for what it is – an abomination of the military justice system. The CAAF judges are civilians, so it is our hope that they will look at Michael's case much differently than how the military judges have thus far.
Michael has his next Clemency Hearing the first week of January 2012. Although the Clemency Board disappointed us last year in not granting any Clemency (despite Michael being a model prisoner for the past two years), we know we will get to present Michael’s situation before a new panel. In addition, we are hopeful that with the US military leaving Iraq at the end of December, that the atmosphere of appeasement towards the Iraqi government may be different. If you want to help with Michael's Clemency you can draft a letter to the Clemency Board. A sample clemency letter is included below, but we ask that you PLEASE change up the language and add some additional thoughts, so the letters don't all look the same.
Also, we would like to get Michael's petition (currently 28,400) to over 35,000 signatures before our meeting with the Clemency Board. We would really appreciate it if you could blast out this request to everyone you can. You can sign the petition here.
Michael is handling his prison life remarkably well and is not caught up in the negative mindsets and daily doldrums of incarceration. His sights remain firmly on the day he will be released and finally returns home to his family. He very much appreciates all the support that you have given him and looks forward to being able to thank each of you for all your efforts on his behalf. Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and despite our struggles to free Michael from this injustice we have much to be thankful for. As the holidays near and Michael spends his 1000th day behind bars please keep him in your prayers and consider sending him a card or letter at:
Michael Behenna #87503
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
Lastly, a Special Forces soldier who Michael befriended in Leavenworth named Kelly Stewart has a new book about Stewart's politicized military trial (the author talked about Michael's case in the forward). I won't ruin the story for you, but suffice it to say that it is the most tragic, unjust conviction I have ever encountered. The book is called Three Days in August and can be purchased at the following link: http://threedaysinaugust.com/ Please pray that Kelly will receive a new trial so that he can clear his name once and for all.
Yours in the fight for justice,
Scott & Vicki Behenna
SAMPLE CLEMENCY LETTER
Deputy Assistant Secretary Mitrano
c/o Army Clemency and Parole Board
1901 South Bell Street
Arlington, VA 22202
Re: Clemency for 1LT Michael Behenna
Dear Ms. Mitrano,
I have followed the case of 1LT Michael Behenna since hearing about his conviction for killing an al-Qaida operative. I have read many news accounts about his conviction, the email written by the government forensic expert Dr. Herbert MacDonell, and the outstanding background of this young man, including his Officer’s Evaluation. I request, on his behalf, that you grant him clemency and immediately release him. His immediate release would give him the same opportunity that our military is affording enemy combatants who are being released in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please consider the “fog” this young man was operating under after having survived an attack on his platoon which took the lives of two of his soldiers just three weeks before, and the questionable decision to require 1LT Behenna to return the terrorist home. I have many questions about his conviction, especially hearing that critical evidence was withheld from his defense counsel and the jury. Give this young man the benefit of the doubt and release him so that he can begin to pick up the pieces of his life.