Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bore Patch: A Soldier is being railroaded

I just grabbed this off of BP's website:

Bore Patch: A Soldier is being railroaded

By the Pentagon, no less.

1LT Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years for the murder of an Iraqi detainee he says attacked him. The Government's own expert witness filed an affidavit saying that he told the prosecutors that Behenna's story was the only explanation that fit the forensic evidence. I've read the affidavit, and it is damning of the Government's actions.

Behenna's attorneys were not informed of this testimony. He was convicted, and a motion for a new trial has been denied.

Please pass this on. Bloggers, please post a link to Lt Behenna's site.

Hat tip: A Large Regular.


LSP said...

I'll certainly post a link

God bless.

Borepatch said...

Thanks for passing this on Albert, and LSP.

dukkillr said...

Maybe a bit more research is in order?

I have a nearly Pavlovian reaction when someone who saw or heard not a single witness or piece of evidence suddenly questions those who did. What makes you an expert?

Sometimes judicial results don't fit what I believe is right. Occasionally it's even happened when I've sat and watched or participated in the whole trial. But it's far more often that a biased special interest weighs in on something they have only a very slanted view on. Then they declare a travesty and throw half truths into the media wind hoping something will take flight.

He was convicted by the military. By a panel (military jury) the attorney for the co-defendant described as "This panel looked like the best bet for a jury nullification. Young officers, with relatively junior rank for a military panel, who were probably fairly independent, and yet in the end, they sentenced Behenna to 25 years. A more senior officer panel may have given him more time." This is not some liberal San Francisco jury pool, it's frankly, the people who could best judge this situation. They would know better than nearly every person posting on this subject (including me). They live a military life and presumably have seen the way modern warfare is conducted. They've seen and heard all the evidence, how many of the internet/armchair lawyers can say that? None.

He was convicted because they took a suspect into custody, drove him into the desert, stripped him naked, and shot him in the forehead. There apparently was conflicting testimony that he was pleading for his life and/or may have stood up. The body may have been blow up and was burned. Fragments of grenades were found at the scene. As best I can gather from the reports of the defense attorneys, two eye witnesses (including one GI) testified that he WAS NOT STANDING. The most pro-defense jury I could imagine was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now I'm not actually saying this result is a good one. If exculpatory evidence was withheld I believe he should receive a new trial. I have faith he will be given every opportunity as he works through the appeals process. It appears the testimony in question was similar to that of the defense expert and was not exculpatory in nature. Further, it was provided to the defense prior to trial. The central issue seems to be that the experts agreed with each other, sorta, but disagreed with the eye witnesses. I'm only going into this because it's so wildly different that the picture painted by the website linked to above. I'm not vouching for any fact in question personally but I'd trust the freaking defense lawyer before some shmuck on the internet.

Now as to the fairness of the law itself? I'll quote the attorney again, "In this case, the Iraqi was under the care and control of the US forces. As CPT Poirier, the lead prosecutor in our case, said in her closing argument in US v. Warner, this is the type of crime that requires that “we” send a message to soldiers not to commit these types of battlefield attorcities. Now, in our case, I believed that she was wrongfully characterizing our client’s conduct, but the point was made nonetheless. Soldiers must follow the rules regardless of their personal vendettas.

In LT Behenna’s case, the panel seemed to send a message that officers cannot decide for themselves how they are going to distribute justice. If we as a nation are going to occupy and administer justice in Iraq, then we will require our officers to follow the law. No matter whether you agree with the panel’s decision to heavily sentence LT Behenna or not, there is certainly a requirement that we not lead Iraqi citizens into the desert, strip them naked and then shoot them point blank in the forehead. The panel has sent that message loud and clear with a twenty five year sentence."

A link:

Albert said...


I was thinking of you when I posted this, I'm glad you noticed and weighed in.

I haven't had a chance to look into this, and only made a very cursory exam of the info.

I tend to be suspicious of military convictions, I tend to think that someone is getting hung out to dry, while the senior officers walk. Like at Abu Grabe (SP).

But thanks again for your professional opinion and perspective. It's too easy for me to look over some of these pertinent facts as you pointed out.


LSP said...

Thanks for that DK, I think your 'research' point is compelling.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rasch,

Thank you for support of 1LT Michael Behenna. All he wants is the right to a fair trial with ALL of the evidence presented to the panel so that they can reach a verdict that is not compromised by the prosecutors' actions. Your previous posters are following the lead that the prosecutors started during the court-martial. They threw statements around without any proof and even hid a lot of the evidence until after the verdict was reached. If the physical evidence did not fit their theory of an execution, then it was discarded. They called the LT's testimony about the events as "impossible", "improbable", and "a complete fabrication" when they knew their own witness had told them it was "the only logical explanation that fit the forensic evidence". As for the "eye witnesses" that testified about the shooting, there are none! During cross-examination, SSGT Warner admitted to making several statements with conflicting versions and finally admitted to not being on the scene during the shooting but instead he was relieving himself in the bushes 35-50 meters away. The interpreter, Harry, never testified that he saw the shooting as well. He said that the last time he saw Ali he was seated and the next time he was lying on the ground. Harry was at least 10 meters away, not looking toward the culvert, during a sand storm, and it was getting dark when the shots rang out.

Ali was not shot execution style in the forehead. There are two bullet holes. Both have a horizontal trajectory, through and through, and enter from the right side of the body and exiting the left. The first shot was under the right arm without touching the arm at all. The second shot is in the right temple as Ali dropped to his knees after the first shot. The body rested on the ground on the right side. If he was shot executions style, then how did the shot get under the right arm with dried blood on the back of the left hand? Ali was not a small man and would have been very heavy to lift up and shoot horizontally from the ground up.

As for the panel knowing what soldiers go through in combat zones, that is not the case. Not one of the panel members have one day of experience in combat.

There is much more to this case than meets the half-truths that continue to seep into the internet blogs. What it boils down to is that the LT did not recieve the right to due process that he volunteered to put his life on the line to protect. That is the least that the US Army owes to the LT and is not too much to ask.