This week's syndicated column:
Here I am again in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., the highest appeals court for the U.S. military. Last month, I was here to cover Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna's final appeal. Now I am waiting for Army Sgt. Evan Vela's final appeal to begin. I glance over at Evan's father, Curtis Carnahan, and Evan's wife, Alyssa, sitting together in the otherwise empty first row, and I can't believe it's been more than four years since Curtis first emailed me:
"I am Sgt. Evan Vela's father. I do not know if you have followed my son's case, but some people have drawn similarities between the Luttrell situation and Evan's."
Curtis was referring to Marcus Luttrell, whose 2007 best-seller "Lone Survivor" tells of four Navy SEALs, Luttrell among them, whose 2005 mission in Afghanistan was compromised when two unarmed Afghan goatherds discovered the SEALs hiding deep in Taliban territory. I had written a column discussing the excruciating fact that the thought of being brought up on legal charges in a military court back home weighed so heavily on these young Americans' minds that they decided not to save their own lives and their mission by killing the two Afghans, but rather to take their chances against the veritable Taliban army the pair would summon against them.
"It was the stupidest, most Southern-fried, lame-brain decision I ever made in my life," Luttrell later wrote of his decisive vote to let the two Afghans go. As a result of the decision the SEALs made on an Afghan mountaintop far from any courthouse, 19 Americans -- Luttrell's three SEAL teammates and 16 more special forces -- would be killed that same day.
But no one went to court.
In Evan's case, the leader of his elite sniper squad chose the other path. It was May 2007, in insurgent-controlled Iskandariyah, Iraq. When an unarmed Iraqi man compromised the team's "hide" and refused to cooperate quietly, the team leader chose not to risk drawing local insurgents to their position, but instead ordered Evan to kill the man. As a result of this decision, all of our soldiers came home that day.
But then they went to court. Long saga short, Evan Vela became the only soldier convicted of the killing. He was sentenced to 10 years at Fort Leavenworth military prison -- the shortest sentence of the so-called Leavenworth 10, as Curtis reminded me this week, using the nickname for a group of veterans who are incarcerated for a variety of desperate, blurry, fog-of-war shootings.
Listening to the procedural review of Evan's case, I am struck again by the ghastly surrealism of their plight -- the penalties the U.S. government has forced on its most dutiful sons for not committing, in effect, suicide as the Navy SEALs did in choosing to escape prison rather than death.
Meanwhile, literally thousands of incarcerated terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have been granted clemency or otherwise found their freedom. Recently, Ali Musa Daqduq, a Hezbollah mastermind who confessed to kidnapping, torturing and killing five American soldiers in 2007, walked free in Iraq. In December 2011, President Obama turned over Daqduq to an Iraqi court, which released him this month. According to the most basic moral calculus, this is neither fair nor right. As Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida recently wrote to President Obama, it's an "utter betrayal."
I steal another glance at the Carnahans, now focused on the court proceedings. Like the other Leavenworth families, they have been counting off the years by trials, appeals, clemency boards and pleas for congressional support. Back in early 2009, there were flutters in the news about a possible pardon for Evan from outgoing President Bush. Then nothing. No pardon. Which was, to my mind, unpardonable. George W. Bush should have pardoned Evan and the other soldiers, now prisoners, whom he ordered into a confusing, rules-restricted war against an army without uniforms on a battlefield without lines.
And so, the Leavenworth 10 sit in prison: Michael Behenna, Corey Clagett, John Hatley, William Hunsaker, Larry Hutchins, Michael Leahy, Joseph Mayo, Michael Williams, Evan Vela. Newcomer Derrick Miller has joined them. Miller last year drew a life sentence after unsuccessfully claiming self-defense in the killing of a suspected Afghan insurgent who had penetrated his defensive perimeter.
Memorial Day -- the day we mourn our war dead -- is coming. President Obama, give these men another chance at life. Pardon them.
Diana was also on this radio show talking about this.
Our military is the best in the world, those men and women are the pride of our nation. They are sent into situations that are dangerous and when they finally return home, many of them come in a box or damaged beyond belief. Our politicians care nothing about them, they run the war from home with no clue about the reality of the situation. Thy are not allowed to win quickly and come hom; remember Vietnam? How many of the heads of the Department of Defense actually served? Does Leon Panetta now belong in that position - I say not. It is a national shame that we send them to Iraq and Afghanistan to be slaughtered but demand from them the political correctness that pervades this and other administrations. No matter who the President is, this never should be allowed to happen.
I agree this man should be granted clemency. I did call my congressman, Roscoe Barlett, he is on the Armed
Services committe. Wouldn't this be a great thing to have Lt. Mike Brehanna out on Memorial Day weekend?
For our Country and Republic.
THIS IS AN UTTER OUTRAGE AND TOTAL MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE . WHY SHOULD THE ILLEGAL CURRENT MIS ~ ADMINISTRATION OD badrak ' insane ' obummer IMPRISON AMERICAN MILITARY FIGHTING MEN FOR WAGING NECESSARY WAR ON ALL ENEMY COMBATANTS AND INFORMANTS IN ORDER TO SAVE THE LIVES OF AMERICANS ????? THE TRUTH IS THAT obummer HIMSELF SHOULD BE IMPRISONED FOR THE TREASON , FRAUD , LIES , SOCIALISM , DESTRUCTION OF ECONOMY AND BAD GOVERNANCE HE HAS PERPETRATED UPON THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA .
WHY WOULD ANY INTELLIGENT PERSON VOLUNTEER FOR SERVICE IN ANY BRANCH OF AMERICAN MILITARY KNOWING WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THESE BRAVE MAN ?????????????
BECOME INFORMED ABOUT THE ACTUAL SUCCESS OF A FEW ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE FORCING COURTS , POLICE , CONGRESS , AND OTHER OFFICIALS TO ABIDE BY EXISTING LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION .
SEARCH : JUDICIAL WATCH , UNITED STATES JUSTICE FOUNDATION , PATRIOTS FOR AMERICA AND OTHERS HAVE ALREADY DONE AND CONTINUE TO DO . JOIN AND HELP SAVE AMERICA .
What is extremely sad and disgusting is that any other leader would have stood up for not only these10 soldiers,but for anyone defending our country,and would have told the enemy that all is fair in love and war.Being that ovomit is a muslim and member of the muslim brotherhood he is not as we have seen going to do anything for our troops.I have to appeal to anyone who reads these comments to please continue writing your senators and congressman to please for the sake of saving our country to start taking the steps to remove the traitor in the White House as soon as possible. How can anyone who can read and write not see that ovomit is truly as evil as evil can get,and has no interest in America except to destroy it for his own political agenda.I,m asking all hispanics to please not buy into the lies that obuma is telling them or to accept any of the gifts that he is offering,he is just using you for his dictorial purposes,he does not care about you or anyone else but himself,in the long run if he is re-elected we will all suffer.
This an example of why we should not be in the middle east. Their tactics are designed to use our rules against us. They do not wear uniforms, or abide by any rules of engagement. They not only torture (true torture) prisoners, they behead them and execute them publicly, normally videotaping for dispersal to the masses. Knowing all of this to be true how can our leaders imprison our soldiers for merely doing what must be done to protect the lives of our soldiers and themselves? How can this be? My God, this is so frustrating, I see our troops every day and pray for them to do well all the while knowing that they are being put at a disadvantage from the word go, it tears me up inside to know this and watch these young men and women train for the war that is not a war.
According to Behenna's own testimony — and according to the corroborating hypothesis of one of the prosecution's own expert witnesses — Mansur rose from the rock and lunged for Behenna's gun. Behenna fired two bullets in self-defense, killing Mansur. And therein lie the seeds of appeal.
How can one "lose your right to self defense"?
Michael Savage relentlessly fought for his freedom for the longest time, use to have an atty fund. What is happenening to our service members is a tragedy, political pawns. Everytime I see BO or Michelle acting like they give a ...., it makes me ill, don't think they give a crap about them, it is all one big farce and photo-op for the Marxist-in-Chief and his Michelle Antoinette.