Read all about the plight of the SEAL 3 at the Victory Institute.
The Victory Institute has launched “Operation Neptune’s Fury,” the initiative to stop the trials of the Navy SEALs accused of assaulting the al Qaeda terrorist behind the 2004 ambush that killed four Blackwater contractors.
The Navy’s case seems pretty weak as it is based on testimony of 1.) the terrorist (al Qaeda tells its “brothers” to accuse the U.S. of abusing/torturing them while in custody and 2.) a sailor who claims to have witnessed the alleged abuse (his five statements are contradictory).
A top military commander has stated that courts-martial for three Navy SEALs charged with allegedly mishandling a terrorist detainee will continue despite pressure from both Congress and the American people.
The three SEALs were part of the platoon that captured of Ahmed Hashim Abed, a top al Qaeda leader during a nighttime raid in September. Abed is the suspected mastermind of a 2004 ambush who killed four Blackwater security contractors – including a former SEAL – in Fallujah, Iraq.
Petty Officer Matthew McCabe is the only SEAL accused of actually assaulting Abed, and also faces charges of dereliction of duty and making a false statement. According to the Newport News Daily Press, court documents state that McCabe’s alleged assault amounts to a punch in the stomach.
Petty Officers Julio Huertas and Jonathan Keefe also face charges of dereliction and making a false statement. Huertas has a third charge that is pending investigation.
The trial is still set to continue despite a massive outpouring of public support. Thirty thousand Americans have signed Congressman Dan Burton’s (R – Ind.) online petition calling for the military to end the prosecution. In December, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R – Calif.) sent a letter signed by 33 members of Congress to Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting intervention. Later that month, Rep. Burton sent another letter, this time signed by 40 representatives asking that the charges be dropped. Over 98,000 people have joined a Facebook group supporting the SEALs, and over 114,000 have signed an online petition at Human Events.
“Instead of medals and commendations, our heroes are being met with twisted jurisprudence,” wrote Rep. Burton. “This sends a backwards message to our men and women in the military who are charged with carrying out dangerous missions and must often use aggressive force in dealing with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, commander of the Army’s Special Operations Command Central and the convening authority of the case, responded to the Rep. Burton’s letter on December 15th, stating that he is more concerned with an alleged cover-up than he is with Abed’s “relatively minor” injuries.
Gen. Cleveland wrote that Abed’s “alleged injuries were inflicted several hours after the operation had ended, and while in the custody and care of the U.S. at Camp Schweidler’s detainee holding facility.” But how could medical personnel determine exactly when Abed so-called injury took place, and how could they know that the injury wasn’t self-inflicted, or as a result of his capture?
“If the injuries were insignificant, why are the reputations of 3 expert warriors on the line?” asks Kay Day at The US Report. Indeed, Gen. Cleveland could have simply let the matter go, but opted for non-judicial punishment, which the sailors declined; accepting the punishment could have ended their career in special operations.
But did the alleged abuse even take place?
Lesson 18 of al Qaeda’s training manual says to convince the judge that the member was tortured and to complain of mistreatment to the court. It could be that Abed was just doing what he was trained to do – continue the battle from the courtroom (apparently the only environment that SEALs are vulnerable), whether the allegations are true or not. Unfortunately, it appears that the Pentagon is willing to risk the careers of three of the nation’s best warriors in order to find out as anyone above Gen. Cleveland could put an end to the trial as well.
Consider the effect this has on not just the special operations community, but also our conventional forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today’s battlefield has become an extension of the courtroom for our troops and has already had a significantly negative effect on our warfighting capabilities.
Day also asks, “Did military politics and political correctness perhaps play a role in their raising the allegations?”
Entirely likely. Especially when we consider the military’s PC reaction to November’s Fort Hood massacre, where Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire, killing 13 and wounded dozens more. Rather than asking commanders to be on the lookout for more jihadist activity from within the ranks, Army Gen. George Casey asked them to watch for a backlash against Muslim soldiers. Gen. Casey also said that “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” As to military politics, the current administration’s view of “engaging the enemy” is not done at gunpoint, but diplomatically. Therefore, it behooves military leaders to behave accordingly in order to earn their stars.
Worse than a perceived loss of the Gen. Casey’s beloved “diversity” is the loss of our military’s desire to serve and fight. The Pentagon must take into consideration the loss of morale and unit integrity that today’s Armed Forces experience because of cases like these. A soldier that is expected to fight both on the battlefield and in the court room can not win a war.
The US Report recently interviewed a Navy SEAL officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, on the effect the upcoming Special Courts-Martial of three SEALs has on the special warfare community. Petty Officers Matthew McCabe, Julio Huertas, and Jonathan Keefe face various charges over allegedly mishandling Ahmed Hashim Abed when they participated in the capture of the man authorities believe is a most-wanted al Qaeda leader.
Abed is the suspected mastermind of a 2004 ambush that killed four Blackwater security contractors – including a former SEAL – in Fallujah, Iraq.
Military charge sheets show allegations against the SEAL3; among them, that McCabe is accused of punching Abed in the midsection. Other charges include allegations that Huertas and Keefe covered up the incident.
“This prosecution will inevitably drive more quality SEALs out of the community,” TUSR’s source stated. “Many enlisted SEALs are already at odds end with the leadership and rules of engagement.”
Resources like the SEALs don’t just grow on trees. The Navy has just over 2,000 SEALs, which take years to train at a reported cost of half a million dollars per commando. No doubt this case – which military leaders could have dismissed entirely – provides even more insult to injury for these highly-trained warriors. In fact, the case can be stopped if Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the commander of Special Operations Command Central and the convening authority for the trial, or one of his superiors drops the charges.
“Overzealous inquiries have often found so-called abuses that were later easily explained, but often the explanations were disregarded,” said our source, who goes on to describe the legal minefield the commandos must negotiate in order to do their job: “SEAL field commanders often write detailed reports that emphasize professional conduct. Months and years later, investigators find criminal acts even though sworn and appointed leaders swear they never happened. Enlisted men are given substandard representation and threatened with years of punishment. Many are told they are being debriefed and not investigated, many are not aware that they are afforded the rights of search and questioning of all American citizens. Seven-page shooter reports have to be filled out if a SEAL handles a militant. All of which can be used against the operator in open court.”
When asked what effect this trial might likely have on future operations, our source stated that “This has already affected future operations. SEALs are hesitant to lay hands on suspected militants for fear of recrimination.”
The official U.S. Navy website states that during Operation Iraqi Freedom, SEALs were instrumental in the success of initial special reconnaissance and direct action missions including the securing of oil infrastructures; the clearing and reconnaissance of waterways; capture of high value targets, raids on suspected chemical, biological and radiological sites; and the first successful POW rescue since World War II. “[Naval Special Warfare] forces continue to conduct direct action, special reconnaissance and over watch missions throughout Iraq … They established a Foreign Internal Defense program, training and advising Iraqi Forces and have worked to prevent terrorists from conducting activities meant to disrupt Iraqi elections.”
That’s a lot to ask from such a small community. Clearly America needs these men defending our freedoms. But with their morale and unit integrity in such a steep decline, how can we expect these men to keep up such a high level of production?
“SEALs are tired of having to watch their back – not only from the enemy – but also from our own leadership,” said our source. Regardless of the legal obstacles they must overcome, the apparent lack of support from above, and of course fighting their enemies, the SEALs still manage to carry out their mission superbly.
As of this writing, the first trial is set to begin January 11.