The simplified version of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna’s story is that he received 25 years in prison for killing an Al-Qaeda operative that was subsequently reduced to a 15-year sentence. Though the longer version will show that Michael may have taken some missteps, which actually resulted from a bone-headed decision from his superiors, the notion that those missteps warrant his imprisonment is beyond far-fetched; it’s a miscarriage of justice.
Via Defend Michael:
On March 20th, 2009, Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Ali Mansur, a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. Mansur was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation and Army intelligence believed he organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.
During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.
During a radio interview with Ben Barrack on April 12, 2009, the mother of Lt. Behenna, Vicki Behenna – a former Asst U.S. Attorney said the following:
He (Michael) took upon himself to do an interrogation… He stopped his platoon… Michael and his interpreter and another soldier got out… Michael took Ali Mansur to a culvert, which was about 35 meters from an Iraqi checkpoint… Began asking him questions… Ali Mansur kept telling him, “I don’t know anything! I don’t know anything!”
Vicki then explained that Michael understood some Arabic but also relied on his interpreter.
…Ali said something he didn’t understand so he turned his head to look over his left shoulder to get the translation from the interpreter. When he did, he said he heard a rock hit the side of the culvert. When he turned back, Mansur was standing… Michael thought he was reaching for his gun because his hands were up and so Michael said he shot a controlled pair in self defense.
A very important figure in the case is a man named Dr. Herbert MacDonnell. When Barrack asked Vicki about who that was, Michael’s mother explained:
He was hired by the government to provide expert crime scene development to the government in preparation for the case… The government, the entire time, was saying that Michael executed him… but it didn’t really fit the forensic evidence because the forensic evidence was that the shots were horizontal… and there was a shot to the chest and to the right arm that went all the way through the body and one to the right temple that went all the way through the brain… The government argued that he executed him by shooting him in the head first while he (Mansur) was seated. Michael’s experts testified that that’s not possible, that the most logical scenario… was that Ali was standing because the shot entered under the right arm, clearly his right arm was up; it was positioned right where your arm would lay against your body.
Ok, two shots, right? One was under the right arm. Is it logical to assume that Behenna shot Mansur in the head and as the man lay dead, Behenna lifted up Mansur’s arm and shot him to prevent it from looking like an execution?
Nonetheless, keep in mind that Mansur was an Al-Qaeda operative.
Vicki continued, explaining that MacDonnell was called back by the government to “confer” about what Michael’s experts had said.
The government didn’t provide that information to Michael’s defense lawyers, that their expert agreed with Michael’s experts… Michael took the stand in his own defense and described exactly what I told you. Dr. MacDonnell was in the courtroom, listening to Michael’s testimony and he turned to another government and said, ‘My God, that’s exactly what I explained to you yesterday.'”
Another aspect to all of this that cannot be overlooked is the fact that Mansur was suspected of killing Behenna’s brothers. So, after the military ordered Mansur’s release, Behenna was ordered to be the one to release him. No one in their right mind finds this sensical. Michael’s father Scott had this to say during the interview:
It’s almost like me raping your daughter and then having… you giving me a ride home.
Scott quickly pivoted at a point when one might be experiencing sympathy for Michael and disgust for the forces that ordered him to give the murderer of his brothers a taxi cab ride home.
That really doesn’t play a whole lot into what happened in the courtroom… The government knew that it wasn’t murder; the government knew he was not sitting on a rock; he was standing. They alleged all the way to the final argument… that he was sitting on a rock and assassinated, contrary to what their experts said.
To understand the government’s case against Michael, one must grasp the level of hypersensitivity the government has for Muslim sensibilities. Unfortunately, the conviction of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna is in itself, an indictment of the government he fought for.
Then again, he didn’t fight for the government; he fought for his country.
The fact remains that when U.S. troops were sent to war, they were sent to kill Al-Qaeda operatives. First Lt. Michael Behenna killed an Al-Qaeda operative and was sent to prison.
The railroading of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna is a grievous affront to all men who have sworn to defend the United States of America.