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Entries in 1st LT Michael Behenna (4)

Tuesday
Jul302013

Help Michael Win His Parole!

To all the thousands of Michael supporters,

Thank you so much for the huge outpouring concerning our request to contact your local VFW chapter about the courageous VFW Resolution to free Michael. We don’t know the final outcome of the Resolution as the VFW National Conference will not vote on resolutions until the end of this week. We will advise you when we hear the result.  We realize that the VFW request may have been more of an appeal to those who had military contacts, but we certainly appreciate all those supporters without military contacts that also cold-called their VFW’s to assist with Michael’s resolution.  

We have one more very important request for all who have followed Michael’s case and want to help him directly. Michael is eligible for parole for the first time in January 2014 and his parole packet must be completed by the end of August 2013. It is our desire to provide the Army Parole Board with hundreds of letters of support as well as letters of employment.  We want to leave no doubt in the Army Parole Board’s mind that Michael is more than an acceptable risk to leave prison; that in fact he is openly welcomed back into American Society by the public at large.

Please take the time to draft and sign a short letter of support (one page only) and/or a letter of employment, and either email or mail them to us for inclusion in Michael’s parole packet (the email and physical mailing address are at the bottom of this email.)  We have included a few bullet points for possible inclusion in your letters, but feel free to write with passion and from your heart. A note of caution…insulting the Board will be counterproductive as the Board did not place Michael in prison, but they hold the keys to his release.

Please address your letters as follows:  To the Parole Division – US Disciplinary Barracks

Letters of SupportHow you know Michael, or how you learned about and followed his case; what you know about Michael’s character and family support, or how you have read that he served the country honorably and has paid a severe price (a price that he will continue to pay throughout his life with a felony conviction); knowing the facts and circumstances surrounding Michael’s background, case, and service, you welcome him back into society and know he will succeed with such overwhelming support.

Letters with Offers of Employment:  Name of Business, Company, LLC, or Partnership; Position and Duties; Salary and/or Commission.  Note that Michael completed a Bachelors of Science from the Univ. of Central Oklahoma; studied history, military science and general studies while in college, and is well read (over 300 books while in prison).  He has also studied a lot about ranching while he has been incarcerated and would especially be interested in anyone who would hire him to work and learn to operate a ranching business.)

This is our first and hopefully our last time advising the Parole Board about the support base that has been encouraging Michael all these years and is patiently waiting for him to walk out of prison a free man.  For all the unbelievable efforts, tears, prayers, cards, and letters you have offered to Michael and our family, sending a letter to the Parole Board is the one way you can directly have your voice heard about what has happened to this brave soldier who was imprisoned for an action taken in a war zone to protect himself and his Brothers-in Arms.  Last week a jury in Florida exonerated George Zimmerman and said that he had the right to stand his ground when confronting an unarmed teenager.  The Army on the other hand declared that Michael lost that same right to defend himself when confronting a member of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq.  Please take this opportunity to let the Army Parole Board hear the thoughts of every day Americans who will not leave this Soldier behind and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

We must bind all the letters of support and employment letters into Michael’s parole packet and send it to the Army Parole Board BEFORE September 1st, so please send your letters to us no later than August 23rd (just a month away). 

Bless you for your continued support of our son,

Scott & Vicki Behenna

www.defendmichael.com

Email address:  sbehenna@cox.net

Mailing address:  1050 E. 2nd Street #169; Edmond, OK  73034

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The Snooper Report.
Join us as we Take Our Country Back.
Sic vis pacem para bellum
Fight Accordingly
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum
(If you want peace, prepare for war.)
Sic Semper Tyrannis!
Death to Tyrants

Saturday
Jul062013

Defend Michael - the war is NOT over!

To all the thousands of Michael supporters,

On July 4th we celebrated the many freedoms that all of us enjoy because of the sacrifices of millions of brave men and women in uniform since the founding of our nation.  Of course July 4th was not a day of freedom for Michael or the other Leavenworth 10 who remain in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth.  For them it was a painful reminder that the freedom they fought for on our behalf is no longer theirs to enjoy.

The end of the legal struggle after the Supreme Court denied Michael’s petition for certiorari just causes us to turn up the heat in the political battle to convince those in power that there is no acceptable reason to keep Michael incarcerated.  In that light, James Wainscoat, a decorated veteran and strong supporter of Michael, has stepped up and helped his South Dakota State Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter to pass a Resolution that calls for Michael to be freed. This Resolution will be put before the National VFW Conference which begins July 20th in Louisville, KY.  Although this was a huge step forward, this Resolution has no chance of gaining the support of the National VFW Conference unless many more VFW Chapters rally their delegates to support the Resolution.  To this end we absolutely need your help NOW!!!

We ask each of you to contact your local VFW officers or State VFW delegates to voice their approval for this Resolution without delay.  It is important that the National VFW committee handling resolutions know that the plea for Michael’s freedom be heard by the full convention and voted on – not killed in committee.  Mr. Wainscoat said he felt that the VFW, which is the only veteran’s group recognized by a Congressional Mandate, has such a powerful voice with Congress and the Administration that a resolution by them could turn the tide in Michael’s favor.  Thus it is imperative that we have the support of as many States VFW Chapters as soon as possible.

The veterans of this country have always been committed to never leaving any of their troops behind. Through the powerful influence of the VFW, whose members have bravely fought for the freedoms we too often take for granted, we will hopefully find a way to bring at least one more Soldier home. Thank you for this important first political step towards Michael’s release.  Please feel free to pass this on to your military connections.

Bless you for your continued support of our son,

Scott & Vicki Behenna

www.defendmichael.com

 

Here is the Resolution:

Resolution No #1

RELEASE OF 1st Lt. MICHAEL BEHENNA

      Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was charged at an Article 32 hearing of Premeditated Murder of a known, capture or kill Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur while in custody during a field interrogation; and

      Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was ordered to return known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur to the Operational area (AO) and release him in accordance with the “Catch & Release” program of suspects, not having enough evidence to continue to hold them in custody for prosecution; and

       Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna took the known Al Qaeda operative back to the AO in handcuffs. Once inside the AO, he removed the handcuffs, stripped the suspect, and began to question the known Al Qaeda operative at gunpoint (in order to maintain control) as to his knowledge of the recent IED attack that had cost 1st Lt. Behenna the lives of two of his men, and two more seriously wounded; and

      Whereas, according to 1st Lt. Behenna, Al Mansur lunged at the lieutenant; whereupon the lieutenant fired two control shots, killing the known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur; and

      Whereas, the Army claimed 1st Lt. Behenna lost his right to self-defense as a result of pointing a firearm at the suspect for control, having removed the handcuffs from the suspect. Also in question was whether the suspect was executed in a sitting position or was attempting to disarm the Lieutenant, and cause bodily harm to 1st Lt. Behenna and others; and

      Whereas, the dispute and credibility factor surrounded the fact of whether the known Al Qaeda operative was in a defenseless sitting position or in an aggressive attack mode? The dispute came down to the unwavering statement of 1st Lt. Behenna, and that of the Iraqi interpreter who because of the darkness and distance from the culvert could not provide a definitive statement as to what happened at the moment of the shooting; and

      Whereas, the prosecution sent home their expert forensic witness whose testimony would have proven to be exculpatory evidence of self-defense on the part of 1st Lt. Behenna; and

      Whereas, lacking the exculpatory evidence of the prosecutions forensic expert on blood splatters and bullet trajectory; 1st Lt. Behenna was denied a fair trial, up to and including the request for a writ of Certiorari from the Supreme Court; the final attempt at his Constitutional right to Due Process; now therefore

     BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States that we support 1st Lt. Behenna and because he was convicted under such questionable circumstances of an alleged crime in a fast-moving and fluid combat zone against a member of the most feared enemy in the world, and has spent over four years in solitary confinement at Leavenworth Military Prison; we desire that 1st Lt. Behenna be released from prison immediately to attempt to pick up the pieces of his life.

Submitted by Department of South Dakota

To the National VFW Committee on NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS The intent of this resolution is: To obtain the release of 1st Lt. Behenna, in order for him to establish his new life after his military career was terminated.

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The Snooper Report.
Join us as we Take Our Country Back.
Sic vis pacem para bellum
Fight Accordingly
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum
(If you want peace, prepare for war.)
Sic Semper Tyrannis!
Death to Tyrants

Thursday
Jun172010

An Outrageous Double Standard

To the thousands of Michael Behenna supporters:

The New York Times recently reported (see link below) that the US military has initiated a policy to “reintegrate” imprisoned Taliban fighters to their Afghan communities. These Taliban fighters were caught with evidence that they had killed our soldiers, but are released to their families in an active war zone with merely a ‘pledge’ that they will not return to the Taliban.  This appears to be the latest attempt to win the hearts and minds of our enemies and taking the ‘catch and release policy’ to a whole new level.

 

This brings us to Michael’s case.  Michael has been incarcerated by the Army for over a year now.    We have asked at every level that Michael’s constitutional right to a fair trial be granted so that all the evidence is disclosed to the jury.  Doesn’t seem too much to ask for an American citizen who fought for his country does it? Yet Michael’s request for a new trial has been stranded.  The Army seems to be in no hurry to have Michael’s case in front of the Army Court of Appeals as they have yet to file their response to Michael’s brief which was filed back in December 2009.

There is a double standard in play here where enemy combatants are given mercy, but our soldiers/Marines are denied mercy. For example, Marine SGT Larry Hutchins whose conviction was overturned several weeks by the Navy Appellate Court is STILL IN CUSTODY while the Navy appeals the decision to the next appellate level.

During the past year we have come to know the families of the other soldiers/Marines who have been charged and convicted of ‘murder’ of Al-Qaeda or insurgents while in a combat zone.  We have watched as these soldiers/Marines and their families prepare for clemency hearings before the military clemency boards. (The Armed Forces have a procedure, independent of the appellate process, where an incarcerated soldier/Marine can appear before a clemency board and ask for a reduction of his sentence, or if the individual has served at least 1/3 of his sentence they may request parole.) We have heard the hopelessness in the voices of the families when they learn that their son or husband will not receive ANY reduction in their sentence.  It is difficult for these military families to know that based on a ‘solemn’ pledge Taliban fighters are released by the SAME US military leadership and allowed to return home to their families. What message does the US military send when we punish our own soldiers more harshly then we punish the combatants who have killed our brave men and women on the front lines of this war on terrorism?

Many of the soldiers/Marines I am speaking of, including our son, would never find themselves involved in the criminal justice system but for their combat experience.  These soldiers/Marines do not have previous criminal histories, and their military records are replete with honorable service including purple hearts, bronze stars, and multiple deployments in defense of our country.  Some of these soldiers fell victim to the military’s ‘catch and release’ policy that returns enemy combatants to the battlefield where they return to fight our soldiers time and time again.   Yet others were protecting themselves or their men in a combat zone. Even if they made mistakes in judgment during war, should they be sentenced to 10-40 years while the enemy is totally forgiven?  Why shouldn’t the SAME military leadership afford our combat soldiers/Marines a second chance!

If the US military will release Taliban fighters simply on a pledge by their families that they will not rejoin the Taliban then we ask the same for our troops.  These soldiers/Marines are not a threat to our society and deserve to be home with their families.  We ask that you the American public stand with us.  Our request is that each of you vouch for these soldiers/Marines and demand that our military extend the same mercy to them as they did to the enemy combatants who are trying to kill our soldiers every day.

Please write a letter to your Senator, Congressman, and the Secretary of Defense and advise them that this double-standard will not be tolerated.

Bless you for your continued support,

Scott and Vicki Behenna

http://www.defendmichael.com

NY Times Article

Diana West Article on releasing the Taliban

Please use this link to find you Congressional Delegates:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington DC 20301-1400

Friday
Feb262010

A Cause Worth Fighting For

To the thousands of Michael Behenna supporters,

One year ago today closing arguments were made by the Army prosecutors determined to get a conviction even if that meant withholding evidence and lying to the jury.  Captain Jason Elbert told the jury that what Michael Behenna testified to regarding the shooting of Ali Mansur was ‘impossible’.  Yet all three prosecutors (Captains Poirier, Roberts, and Elbert) knew better.  Their own expert witness, Dr. Herb MacDonell, had told them earlier in the week that the only logical explanation based on the evidence was that Mansur had to be reaching for Michael's gun when he was shot.   Because their expert’s testimony did not help their case the prosecution team sent him home rather than put him on the stand to testify.  They were not going to let the facts get in the way of a guilty verdict.

So it was that one year ago at around 8:30pm on a Friday night a jury of non-infantry officers convicted Michael of unpremeditated murder and the following day sentenced him to 25 years in prison.  This for killing in self defense a known member of Al Qaeda that Army intelligence knew had organized an attack on Michael’s platoon that took the lives of two American soldiers and two Iraqi soldiers.  For those of us sitting in that Kentucky courtroom the moment when the verdict was read is forever seared into our soulsFor Michael it was absolute betrayal by a country he (unlike the prosecutors) had risked his life to defend.

As we told you last month, Michael’s clemency board hearing resulted in a five year reduction in his sentence on top of the five year reduction granted by the General of the 101st Airborne.  So Michael is now serving a 15 year sentence at Fort Leavenworth and if he serves his full sentence he will rejoin the real world when he is 40 years of age.  Short of the Secretary of the Army intervening, the next phase in getting justice for Michael is the Appellate process.  Michael’s appellate brief was filed on December 22, 2009 and the military response was due on January 22, 2010. The Army did not produce a response on their due date, but instead asked and was granted a three month extension, which makes their new due date April 21, 2010.  Coincidentally that happens to be the anniversary date that Michael’s soldiers Adam Kohlhaas and Steven Christofferson were killed by Mansur and his Al Qaeda cell.

Michael began his incarceration on March 20, 2009.  One of the last things he said to us that day as he was being taken away in handcuffs was ‘Don’t let me be forgotten.’  I can proudly say that YOU HAVE NOT LET MICHAEL BE FORGOTTEN!!!  It is your cards and letters that gives him purpose each day in prison.  The highlight of Michael’s week is when the guard drops off mail to his cell.  On one recent day he received 175 pieces of mail.  From nearly every state in our great country and from places as far away as Australia he has received cards and letters of support that has lifted his spirits and helped Michael and our family endure something that no American family or soldier should ever face – being prosecuted for defending yourself against the most vicious terrorist group in the world.

Our fight for justice is a marathon, not a sprint.  Like Michael, we all have to be prepared for a long fight. But in the end it is a fight we will win and see the day when Michael is free once more.  In this next month please raise awareness about Michael’s case and continue to write your Congressmen, Senators, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of Defense to call for Michael’s immediate release pending the appellate decision.  And most importantly, please drop Michael another letter or card that reminds him that he has not been forgotten.

The links below will catch you up on Michael’s continuing story and show you the true 1LT Michael Behenna:

A  YouTube video of Michael (Thanks to Kyle and the Foo Fighters)

Michael Savage 1/25/10 update on Michael’s case

Contact info for all US Representatives and Senators

Thank you again for your overwhelming support of an American  soldier we proudly call our son.

Scott & Vicki Behenna

http://www.defendmichael.com´╗┐