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Entries in Defend Michael Behenna (20)

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
Dec232010

Clemency Denied

To the thousands of Michael Supporters,

God bless each of you.  We have been in this fight together for the past two years and your encouragement and support has been the driving force behind all we have been able to accomplish.  Last year, the Clemency Board gave Michael a reduction of 5 years off his 20 year sentence.  On December 2nd we again pleaded Michael's case before the Army Clemency Board.  We pointed out to them that Michael's sentence was 50% larger than the highest sentence given to any soldier convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.  We also addressed Michael's unblemished record in prison for the past two years, his many accomplishments while incarcerated, and his unblemished civilian record. We stressed that he was not a threat to anyone and offered many letters of reference including those from the Governor of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Attorney General, Law Enforcement Agency Heads, and all of the supporters who took the time to write letters of support for Michael.  In addition, the entire Oklahoma Congressional Delegation offered their support for Michael’s clemency. We also had three letters of immediate employment for Michael upon his release.  After our arguments to the Clemency Board, the Board had no additional uncompleted factors for Michael, and the Chairman of the Clemency Board stated that Michael had “turned the corner.”  Unfortunately, on December 22nd, Michael was notified that all of our efforts fell on deaf ears and he was denied even ONE day of clemency by the Clemency Board and the Secretary of the Army John McHugh.  We have no idea why they denied Michael’s clemency request and can only surmise that the Secretary of the Army desires Michael to spend a substantial amount of time in prison.

Michael's Appeal Hearing before the Army Appeal Court took place on December 9th in Washington, DC and was well attended by Michael's family and a courtroom full of supporters who drove many hours to attend the hearing.  In the Appeal’s Hearing the Army seemed to be taking a new position on the facts of the case.  During Michael's trial in February 2009 the crux of the entire case revolved around whether Ali Mansur was sitting and executed or standing and reaching for Michael’s gun.  The Army prosecutor’s theory was that Michael executed Mansur while Mansur sat on a rock in a culvert.  Michael's testimony was that he was questioning Mansur in the culvert when Mansur stood up and lunged for his weapon.  The Army prosecutors claimed Michael's testimony was "impossible" and "self-serving" despite all the forensic evidence supporting Michael's version (including their own expert witness who they sent home rather than have testify.)  During the appeal’s hearing the Army seemed to back away from its original theory stating that even if Mansur was standing and reaching for Michael’s weapon Michael would still be guilty of murder because he lost his right to defend himself by pointing a loaded gun at Mansur.   Telling a soldier that they lost their right to defend themselves in a war zone….against a known terrorist… is just plain crazy talk by people who have never been in harm’s way.  It reinforces the point made by a newly elected Congressman who said that soldiers have to watch their back against JAG officers even more than an enemy that is trying to kill them.  But the most disappointing thing we learned at the hearing was that a decision on Michael’s appeal could take as long as 15 months.

I promise you as we have promised Michael:  we will never cease fighting for Michael’s freedom no matter how high or how hard the climb.  When we spoke to Michael this week he wanted us to wish each of you a blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; and to let you know his spirit is as strong as ever because of all YOUR support - for that, we Thank You!

We appreciate the many letters to Michael inspiring him to fight through this ordeal.  We encourage you to continue to write to him with your kind words of support (his prison address can be found on the website defendmichael.com.)  Also please continue to write to your Congressmen and Senators to ensure that they are aware of your feelings about our government treating its enemies better than we treat our bravest heroes.

Here are some articles by two writers who attended the Appellate Hearing:

Diana West - News of OK - Defend Michael

Peace to you and your families,

Scott & Vicki Behenna

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

Thursday
Jan212010

Edmond Soldier Convicted of Killing Detainee Receives Reduced Sentence

THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!

Edmond Soldier Convicted of Killing Detainee Receives Reduced Sentence

He was NOT a "detainee" either.  Judas H Priest!
Posted: Jan 21, 2010 2:26 PM
, Updated: Jan 21, 2010 3:44 PM
First Lt. Michael Behenna

Enlarge this picture

First Lt. Michael Behenna

News9.com

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Army's Clemency and Parole Board has reduced the sentence of an Edmond soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi detainee, according to Rep. Mary Fallin's office.  

First Lt. Michael Behenna was charged with killing an Iraqi detainee in September 2008. The Army's Clemency and Parole Board decided to reduce the sentence by five years for the second time.

The latest reduction brings the original 25-year-sentence down to 15 years.

Earlier this month Vicki Behenna and several family members made a trip to Washington D.C. to speak on her son's behalf at a hearing before the board.

In May 2009 Behenna's mother, Vicki Behenna said prosecutors withheld key evidence in the trial and asked the state's congressional delegation to investigate her son's case. The Behennas filed an appeal in December 2009.

First Lt. Michael Behenna is currently serving his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

More on News9.com:
-
Mother of Edmond Soldier Convicted of Murder Makes Appeal
- Petition Asks for New Murder Trial of Oklahoma Soldier
- Mother Fights for Soldier Son's Innocence 
- Preliminary hearing held for Oklahoma soldiers

THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!