Recent developments have further weakened the case against three Navy SEALs charged with assaulting an al Qaeda detainee. One development will impact the case for all three—the inadmissibility of a statement given by Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe.
At a Scottsdale, Ariz. rally on Saturday, Petty Officer Matthew McCabe – the only SEAL actually accused of striking the detainee – announced that he passed an independently-administered polygraph on March 16.
Neal Puckett, McCabe’s attorney told The US Report, “No military polygraph was administered.”
SEALs captured Ahmed Hashim Abed without firing a shot in a 2009 nighttime raid. Abed is believed to be responsible for the grisly 2004 ambush in Iraq where four security contractors were murdered and their bodies mutilated. Once in U.S. custody, Abed claimed to have received injuries that court documents state amount to a punch in the stomach.
More than 150 supporters attended the event despite the venue’s limited seating. Congressman John Shadegg (R – Ariz.), one of the event’s speakers, stated that trying these SEALs in a case like this is “creating our own demise.” Shadegg is one of 77 co-sponsors of HR 977, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.). HR 977 honors McCabe, Huertas, and Keefe for their “heroic actions.” The bill was introduced in December, and has been referred to committee.
In September, 2009, members of SEAL Team 3 captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, the man believed to be the mastermind of the 2004 Fallujah ambush where four Americans were murdered and their bodies mutilated and hung from a bridge. Although Abed was armed, the SEALs apprehended him without firing a shot.
However, the military has brought charges against three of the SEALs involved in Abed’s detention. As the al Qaeda training manual instructs, Abed has claimed that he was abused. According to court documents, his injuries amount to a punch in the stomach.
Rightfully so, the convening authority of the courts-martial has since deemed that Abed will not be present at the trial, and his statements will not be allowed as evidence.
But in the meantime, the military has offered no corroborating evidence, such as photos or medical reports, to support the prosecution. All it appears they have now is five conflicting statements by a sailor that claims to have witnessed the incident. There is also a chain of custody issue: Before being transferred to U.S. custody, Abed was initially detained at an Iraqi facility. If Abed truly was struck, how can the military know for sure that the alleged injury didn’t take place during his stay with the Iraqis?
The SEALs were initially offered an Article 15 hearing. Although it carried lesser punishments, accepting the hearing would have been viewed as an admission of guilt. Instead, the SEALs chose to have a trial by courts-martial, where all the evidence would be considered, but the punishments are significantly more severe.
These fine operators have experienced far more pain and suffering during any given moment of any training evolution than what this terrorist has alleged. How can we invest years and millions of dollars honing the skills of these elite warriors, only to ruin their careers over accusations of our enemies?
If the SEALs wanted to rough up Abed, they could have done so prior to or during his capture. But they didn’t. Then they could have accepted the Article 15 hearing and perhaps continued serving in their unit. But they didn’t.
The American public is against these trials. Congress has sent multiple letters to our military and political leaders. Members of the special warfare community have privately expressed that this trial has already negatively affected the way they do business. Does our leadership really want to put the words of an al Qaeda operative over our country’s national security?
It is a travesty that the military allowed this trial to go forward. Basing a case on the word of a terrorist, conflicting statements, chain of custody issues, and no corroborating evidence is a slap in the face of our fighting forces. This courts-martial will serve to embolden our enemies, and will undermine the effectiveness of our armed forces.
Director, The Victory Institute
Obama, Medvedev expected to finalize a treaty Friday that cuts deployed nuclear weapons by one-fourth.
Lt. Gen. Ben Mixon, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, wrote a letter to the editor in Stars & Stripes opposing the repeal of DADT. SecDef Gates and ADM Mullen rebuked Mixon, saying he was acting within his rights, but his remarks were “inappropriate” and “ill-advised.” (thanks to SoldiersMom at Blackfive for locating the letter)
Rules of Engagement: Air support pilots learn to hold back
SEAL 3 Courts-Martial Update: The military judge responsible for the case has ordered the convening authority to grant immunity to five SEAL witnesses, or the case may be abated and postponed indefinitely. As of this morning, my sources state that MG Cleveland agreed to grant immunity. But their request doesn’t imply guilt:
The five men’s refusal to testify under their Fifth Amendment right doesn’t mean they have anything to hide. Citing Supreme Court rulings, Carlos noted that one of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions “is to protect innocent men… ‘who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.’ “
A legal defense fund has been established to assist our SEALs with their legal costs, which proceeds from the Victory Institute’s “Free the SEALs” merchandise are sent. Author Betty Kilbride is also donating proceeds of her book to the SEAL defense fund. Visit her Facebook page or her publisher’s website for more.