I’ll let our readers say what they want about this story, but we’ll see where the facts shake out.  According to FoxNews, here, three Navy SEALs have been charged in connection with the capture of notorious Iraqi insurgent Ahmed Hasim Abed.  Here is the story:

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.The three, all members of the Navy’s elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called a captain’s mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

We’ll see what happens and keep you updated as facts develop.

25 Responses to “Potential Navy SEAL Court-Martial for Detainee “Abuse””

  1. COL Inyoface says:

    Ahhh, did the poor terrorist get a bloody lip? Hims must be upset…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would hazard a guess that Fox News has glossed over some important facts about the allegations here (shocker, I know). The charge sheets would be an interesting read. They would probably show that some other good order and discipline issues exist aside from the alleged assault (orders violations, false official statements, etc.) that aggravate this case. Considering the command wanted to take this to NJP first, it appears to find the alleged misconduct relatively minor while taking issue with more than just giving a suspected terrorist a “bloody lip.”

  3. Look, Man says:

    They probably adjusted his attitude after they had him hog tied. Not nice, certainly not legal, but understandable why that would be offered at a mast as opposed to CM.

  4. Some Army Guy says:

    Wow — I expected a lot more comments on this case here, since it’s become a cause de celebre in some circles. I hoped to find more insight and information.

  5. anonymous says:

    This makes about as much sense as charging the SEALs who shot the pirates with murder. What retard thought up this one?

  6. Southern Defense Counsel says:

    SAG,

    This story is long on emotion and short on facts. As such, I don’t think it’s appropriate for discussion here. I sincerely doubt that a SEAL CO would refer charges to Court Martial that he considered baseless. It’s not like the SEAL CO doesn’t wear the pin, or know what these guys go through. I would LOVE to sit in on this CM to see what the real deal is, and not the spin by Faux News or any other anonymous expert on this blog. Unfortunately, further information is not very forthcoming at this time.

  7. Some Army Guy says:

    SDC — I certainly understand and my comment wasn’t meant as a jab or complaint. There just aren’t many places in the blogosphere to find reasoned comments on these issues, and this one is certainly long on emotion.

  8. Frog o' war says:

    First, it seems naive to think that any officer wouldn’t either buckle to political pressure or pressure from his chain of command. Even a SEAL CO. Second, it stands to reason that if the boys roughed up objective amber in the heat of the moment(unlikely considering the training received and unequivocal presentation of ROEs), they would be glad to accept NJP rather than go through the courts martial process. Unless they were in fact innocent of even the ridiculously small charge of giving a terrorist a fat lip (I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion, but oh well…). Then they’d be annoyed enough to take the time and effort to publicly stick it to the idiot that charged them if only to make a mockery of the man to the rest of the chain of command. Just a thought.

  9. Some Army Guy says:

    @Frog — There should be no political pressure or pressure from the chain of command during the charging decision. That’s big-time UCI and an easy winner for the defense.

  10. Flea Baylee says:

    It’s not that the charges are “baseless,” but politically correct. I had a West Pointer charged with rape against another officer (female) after a hard night of drinking between the two. She doesn’t remember the act, thus she claimed raped. No one honestly believed her, but the way of sexual allegations are played in today’s climate demand a 32 IO at the least.

    It was dismissed after the 32.

    Despite my delusions of grandeur as an advocate – the facts carried the day.

  11. Cossio says:

    SDC,

    I believe you to be a doubting Thomas, we’ll see what the “real deal” is, but don’t be shocked if it turns out to be just like Fixed News said it was.

    Or are you forgetting LtCl. Allen West (BTW He’s running for Congress) ?

    He was “offered” NJP for pulling a gun out as a scare tactic to uncover a planned ambush. He barely escaped CM, and like these brave SEALs had the chance to decline it and go CM.

  12. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    SDC:

    “This story is long on emotion and short on facts. As such, I don’t think it’s appropriate for discussion here.”

    I hope you mean in the comments, because this is exactly the type of case CAAFlog should be following.

  13. Bob McCarty says:

    Based on what I read above, I think you might be interested in two posts I published today about the assault charges against the three Navy SEALs:

    Retired Navy SEAL Questions Nation’s Mental State — Court-martial over a bloody lip? The recent news regarding the U.S. Navy SEALs who are facing trial by court-martial raises many questions about the current mental state of America’s military, its civilian leadership and the thoughts and feelings of the American people in general.

    Six Important Facts About the Assault Charges Three Navy SEALs Face for Doing Their Jobs — As my first investigative reporting effort related to the SEALs’ case, I offer six important facts about the case you’re likely not to read about in the mainstream media supplied to me by a source whom I cannot name inside the Pentagon.

  14. John O'Connor says:

    I don’t know anything about this case, but it raises a bigger picture issue about NJP refusals. What’s a xcommand supposed to do when it tries to resolve a minor matter in a minor proceeding, but the servicemember refuses. Then you end up in a court-martial that seems completely disproportionate to the offense charged. And then the DC asks the members whether the accused should get a “federal conviction” for the conduct. (BTW, if I were a judge, I would probably instruct on the NJP refusal if such an argument were made).

    So, while I know nothing about the facts, it seems wrong to view this through the lens of whether these guys should be court-martialed. They’re being coerut-martialed because that’s where they want to be. A different question is whether they should have been NJP’d for the conduct, and, like I said I don’t know the answer to that.

    I know some would like to “overhaul the vessel exception,” but one solution might be to embark the SEALs on a ship . . .

  15. Southern Defense Counsel says:

    No Man, etc.,

    I think that the case is appropriate to discuss here as a matter of military justice, but the problem is discussing the “facts” or, as seems more appropriate in this case, the facts as the defense sees them without any context.

    Cossio,

    You may be right. I may be crazy. I just think that jumping to conclusions and trying the case here without a critical side of the story (the Government’s) can only lead to throwing insults that may not be deserved. I could think of an instance where CM would be appropriate (SEALs capture bad guy, everything is cool, SEALs forget they are professionals 12 hours later and THEN bust up his lip just for kicks). In those instances CM wouldn’t be inappropriate. If it really was battlefield related (or before a time to cool off), then this seems as ridiculous as the masses want to portray it.

    Also a good point here. Since the CA here is the SPCMCA, the members are likely to be SEALs. If the members find the SEALs guilty can’t we really just say that this is the Operators policing their own? Like I said, I’d like to see what facts the government has before laughing them out of court…

  16. Wendell says:

    Bob,

    Earthshattering. You must have had a source deep within the bowels of the Pentagon for that one. How do I get one of them globull warming hoodies?

  17. CPT Rob M says:

    John O’Connor,

    Nice point about NJP refusals and the conundrum it puts commanders in.

    Is a judge (or, for that matter, government counsel) allowed to mention the fact that a servicemember demanded court martial and refused NJP, or would that violate M.R.E. 410? It seems like that would be helpful to the members, especially if, like you said, the defense counsel tries to make a court martial seem disproportionate.

    I’d also agree with the general trend that someone who’s offered NJP usually won’t turn it down if he’s guilty. Granted, my experience with rticle 15s was just dumb Soldier stuff, and I never had a Soldier demand a court martial. But I had a fellow commander who had 2 demand CM (I forget the offenses; I think it they were both unauthorized absenses). The BDE commander humored them and gave them both what they wanted. Proving the wackiness of the summary CM process, one got 30 days in jail, the other just had some money taken from him.

  18. Cossio says:

    Bob, nice article. I would like to hear the otherside (Government’s) on this one.

    SDC, you may be right yet…I’m just pointing out we have enough data points to tell us a Court-Martial can be invented out of anything.

    John O’Connor, correct me if I am wrong, but if a service member refuses NJP the Government still has the option of dropping the CM and NJP. I’ve seen it myself under a set of circumstances (NJP stemming from a tounge ring for a service member who was already facing court-martial charges)

  19. John O'Connor says:

    Right, Cossio, the CA can always offer NJP, have the accused say I’m not doing it, and then have the CA say, OK, I guess I’ll just drop it. That’s true.

    CPT Rob M.,

    I guess the issue re an NJP refusal is how would it be relevant, strictly speaking, on the question of guilt or innocence. That said, if the DC used the “doesn’t deserve a federal conviction” line in argument on findings, I think if I were the MJ I’d be inclined to advise the members the accused refused NJP.

  20. Wendell says:

    Cossio,

    “Bob, nice article.” Are you serious? That blog is a joke, the article could have been written by a under-grad student with no connection to the military. Bob should have just wrote the 6 points in this blog, rather than put the tease out there and make us go to his site to read the drivel. The only redeeming quality is that I may get a gloBULL warming hoodie out of it.

  21. NinjasLeadTheWay says:

    First of all, it’s insane that this is even a topic of conversation. So they punched the guy in the mouth. Who cares? He was probably getting belligerent, as detainess regularly do. I would have used the butt of my M4 and left him missing some teeth. I am glad that the Navy Seals exhibited slightly more professionalism than me. But no one should even be questioning this. It’s insane. The guys a terrorist and if the Navy Seals took him out of the truck, put him on his knees, and put a bullet in his head, I think they’re completely justified. It’s ridiculous to think that even when we’re at war in two countries, we have to come home and fight here. Best of luck guys. I hope all the charges are dropped and someone waterboards the prosecution until their eyes bleed.

  22. Bracknell says:

    Ninjas — your comment requires, in the tradition of JS Mill, immediate refutation. Using the butt of your M4 might be gratifying, it might even be morally just, but it is unlawful. Ours is a nation of laws. The President and the Congress, collectively (and thus, the people), have required us not to conduct ourselves in that way. When we act ultra vires — satisfying our own base desires in an unchecked and unregulated system of frontier justice — we dishonor the Constitution. The oath isn’t just something you mumble each time you get promoted. Read it sometime, and really THINK about the words.

    John O’C — I have never, ever, in 18 years of service, seen a commander fail to send a servicemember to court after he refused NJP. The possibility of NJP refusal should be a factor in every commander’s decision (and legal advisor’s advice) to offer NJP. No commander worth his salt can be seen offering NJP and then taking no action when NJP is refused and court-martial is demanded. The system, in that unit, at least, would implode on itself. NJP is, in itself, an act of mercy in some circumstances.

    Second, while I recognize that the vessel exception treads on some purists’ sense of fair play, I would go in the opposite direction and expand the vessel exception to deployed units in contingency operations. It makes no sense to me that a sailor embarked on an amphib in the Indian Ocean has no option to refuse NJP, but a Marine who falls asleep on post in Indian Country can refuse NJP and require the gov’t to fly trial support all around the country (Iraq, Afghan, HOA, wherever) at the expense of THOUSANDS of dollars and substantial personal and operational risk to aircrew, counsel, and others.

    Finally, to all: I don’t think there’s any support for the proposition that these three SEALS are going to be judged by SEALS. I’m pretty sure the court was convened either by the commander of JSOC or the commander of SOCCENT. While there are plenty of special operators in both of those commands, there are also general purpose force officers and enlisted servicemembers assigned who could wind up on the panel – administrators, communicators, intel folks, fiscal folks, MPs, etc.

    Rob Bracknell, LtCol USMC, USJFCOM

  23. Bracknell says:

    PS interesting issue on whether it would be error for MJ to advise members that member refused NJP if DC raised the “federal conviction” argument. the “federal conviction” argument is essentially impermissibly asking the panel to nullify, so maybe the judge could state the member refused NJP in a curative instruction. The issue would require more research than I’m prepared to commit to comment in this blog right now!!

  24. Sailor says:

    Hit him a-damn-gain !

  25. LCDR Ponder says:

    I think that they should be given a promotion and a medal for not shooting the bastard.