Here’s a link to a Leavenworth Times article about the “Leavenworth 10 Freedom Ride,” which will be held on 4 September in Leavenworth, Kansas.  The event, organized by Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna’s father, is a rally for eight servicemembers confined at the USDB who were convicted of homicides in Iraq.  (Two of the “Leavenworth 10,” including Marine Sergeant Lawrence G. Hutchins III, have been released.)

The event will be held entirely off-post.

Here’s a link to the event’s website.

46 Responses to “Leavenworth 10 Freedom Ride planned for 4 September”

  1. Has actually worn the uniform outside an office says:

    Great cause here…we should all support this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why? Provide support for your position other than insinuating that most if not all on here have not “worn a uniform outside an office” which does little to help you advance an argument.

    p.s. Many of us have deployed, and many of us weren’t always military attorneys but were enlisted or FLEPs.

  3. any mouse says:

    But some of us aren’t in the Army or the Air Force, so we’re restricted from wearing some uniforms in places outside the office, like say the movie theater or grocery store.

  4. Anon says:

    How interesting that a blog entry on the subject of murders commited in a war zone morphs into comments about uniform regulations!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What’s wrong with letting this guy feel special for wearing his uniform outside an office? This blog is a tough crowd.

  6. Code 45 says:

    Just goes to show…we in the defense bar will whine about almost anything, and try to distract from the real issue. It’s just habit, we can’t help ourselves.

  7. RY says:

    Don’t know if any of you have seen the movie “UP” but this thread makes me think of the line: “squirrel!” Ahh, yes, sometimes defense counsel find amusement in things distant from the issue at hand.

  8. soonergrunt says:

    Bringing it back on topic here,
    Hey, Has…
    You know what the difference between me, a four-tour Infantry vet, and those guys is?
    I didn’t throw my military bearing, humanity, discipline, and professionalism out the window.
    When I consider how many people have been acquitted at Court Martial for actions in the war zones, I am absolutely convinced that these men are exactly where they need and deserve to be. They made my life harder in the combat zones by making it harder for the enemy to rationalize surrender, and they make it harder back home because people see the uniform and not the man and a certain portion of the population assumes that war crimes is just the way we roll. Thanks, Charles Graner!!
    They all had defense counsel and as fair a system as could be, so it’s a fair bet that each of them deserves his sentence.
    Screw every one of these guys, and screw the people who try to excuse their behavior.

  9. Anonymous says:

    soonergrunt, thanks for your insight into this. What the people who protest these sentences often neglect to mention is that each of these soldiers/Marines/sailors etc had an absolute right to have fellow soldiers/Marines/sailors pass on whether they really ought to be in prison for their actions. In some cases, they exercised that right, and were duly sentenced by fellow servicemembers. In others, they gave up that right, ostensibly because they thought they had a better chance with a Judge (who is, incidentally, also a soldier/Marine/sailor). And the final say on sentencing was the CA, who is also a soldier/Marine/sailor. So, kwitcherbitchen. Obviously, at least 2 fellow servicemembers thought these people deserved to be where they are.

  10. no one in particular says:

    I liked the comments better when they were about “office rangers” and not about the dipsticks in jail.
    Can we go back to irrelevant topics? Or at least birthers?

  11. Dew_Process says:

    Soonergrunt,
    With due respect to your considerable and honorable service, the system sometimes does not work in a fair manner. While I agree that Law of War violations endanger our own combatants, such as yourself (one of the core reasons for the LoW and for respecting it), at least one of them, 1LT Behenna, did not have a fair trial.

    And, by fair trial, I’m not talking about abstract perfection — I’m talking about putting the evidence out for the court-martial to consider and then let the chips fall. In Behenna’s trial, there is a bona fide issue that key evidence was deliberately withheld from the defense by the prosecution.

    Our system to be fair, depends upon giving the Accused the benefit of the doubt, unless and until the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But, the presumption which you astutely recognize, is that the system operates in a fair manner.

    That didn’t happen in Behenna’s case — would the withheld evidence made a difference in the verdict? Maybe, maybe not. But, none of us has a crystal ball. My point here is simply that the evidence should have been presented to the members for their consideration with all of the other evidence. But, the Defense could not present what they did not know about.

    Whether it was an innocent mistake or deliberate concealment by the Trial Counsel is not the point either. The evidence was not made available to the Defense until after the Guilty verdict had been returned. As a trial lawyer, I’d much rather take my chances with an Accused before a panel, than deal with the illusion of “appellate relief.” But, if that’s all you’ve got, you go with it at this juncture.

    I hope that you understand that I’m not criticizing you or your post, I just happen to have specific insight into one of the Iraqi cases mentioned. By and large our court-martial system works; I just happen to believe it didn’t in Behenna’s case. But that’s just my opinion and we’ll see what the Army CCA thinks as the Briefing there is now completed.

  12. soonergrunt says:

    DP,
    Thanks for the input. Obviously I’d prefer that everything work right the first time. I don’t know anything about specific issues with the Behenna case, and I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t speak to that intelligently.
    I would hope that if there was prosecutorial misconduct that it will hopefully be repaired or remediated and Behenna will get fair treatment if he hasn’t already.
    Having said that, I believe my point still stands. Nothing irks me more than the mistaken belief, usually by civilians but occasionally by service members that we shouldn’t hold ourselves and our comrades accountable for our actions and theirs simply because those actions took place in a war zone. Doing our jobs the right way, which includes not breaking the law, is what they paid us for. That includes Trial Counsel, Judges, and Defense Counsel, too, in re Behenna.
    Doing our jobs the right way allows us to come home with honor, and hopefully allows us to deal more effectively with the things we’ve seen and done because we can at least tell honestly ourselves that whatever else may be true, we did our part the right and honorable way.
    In the end, it really does come down to that Nietzsche quote, “He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Anyone know if Pvt. Merida was released, transferred to fed, or simply excluded from the “Ride” due to the circumstances of the homicide? This was a huge case back at the beginning of the war and the soldier received 25 yrs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federico_Daniel_Merida

  14. Presley O'Bannon says:

    Given the amount of information released about alleged prosecutorial misconduct, I would be interested to see the appellate pleadings. Any chance CAAFlog could post the briefs?

  15. Dwight Sullivan says:

    I’m very interested in the Behenna case. I don’t know as much about it as I’d like to, but what I do know disturbs me. I have a copy of the Appellant’s reply brief, but not the Appellant’s opening brief or the Government’s brief. If I had those, I’d be happy to post them.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Soonergrunt,
    Dew_Process gave you much more latitude in your comments than I will. It is truly amazing that someone who uses superlatives the way you do “screw EVERY ONE of these guys” would then admit that you don’t even know the facts of the cases involved. This article was about the Leavenworth 10, who I know does not include Graner. I guess your threshold for throwing away the key on some honorable soldiers is that they were found guilty. Although, if that were true, I doubt you would waste your time monitoring an appellate web site. If you read the cases of the Leavenworth 10, like Behenna, and Vela-Canahan, I think you would appreciate the tenuous situations that combat soldiers find themselves. I tell you that because I doubt you served 4 tours of combat without ever observing a violation of the UCMJ, including mistreatment of an insurgent detained on the battlefield. Unless you reported every instance, I am sure you are aware that failure to report would have been itself a violation and made it harder for the enemy to “rationalize surrender.”
    The Vela-Carnahan case is a great example why the harsh treatment by the UCMJ is not the answer to every case. Vela was an Army sniper whose position was compromised by a goat herder. Vela and his unit had 2 decisions, kill him or let him go which may give away their position. The decision was made to kill him. Legally and morally wrong – perhaps. Conversely, Navy Seal Luttrell when compromised in a similar situation chose to let the goat-herder go. As a result, the Taliban were warned and the three Seals in his unit and 16 others who came to their rescue were killed in the worst loss of life ever for the Seals. So, the snipers choices when their position is compromised are to go to Leavenworth for shooting the farmer, or risk being killed if they let him go? I wonder how that scenario was trained up in sniper school.
    These situations are not cut and dried and should be considered in light of the situations they were placed. If you are a combat vet, how do you feel about the Army releasing imprisoned Taliban fighters on a PLEDGE they will not rejoin the Taliban. If you knew the Army was releasing the enemy, might it make you shoot when a Taliban fighter is “rationalizing surrender” when throwing down his weapon after shooting at your unit? I pray the decisions made by our military men after hearing of the prosecution of our soldiers do not hesitate and jeopardize themselves and others. Recently 2 Marines were killed when an unarmed detainee obtained a weapon when the Marines tried to “subdue him”. In previous wars, it is well documented that our soldiers lined up prisoners and shot them. Since there is no statute of limitations on murder, do you suggest we file charges on those men?
    These 10 soldiers/Marines are not to be thrown away. Each of their service records appear to be replete with medals and great service to our country. Even if they made horrific mistakes in judgment, for some of them to serve 40 years for a choice on the battlefield when the Taliban walk free from killing our soldiers makes it tough to “rationalize FAIRNESS.”

  17. Code 46 alum says:

    Code 45 hit it right on the money. You all whine whine whine…and lose track of the point.

  18. soonergrunt says:

    Anon,
    Whether you believe or know anything about me or not, is utterly irrelevant.
    Would you kill a prisoner whom you had been ordered to transport somewhere and then dump his body in a river? Because that’s what John Hatley, Joseph Mayo, and Michael Leahy did. There is no question that not only did they kill their prisoner that they knew they weren’t supposed to kill, but that they knew what they were doing was wrong and they tried to cover it up.
    That’s the same dynamic with Evan Vela. He and his Squad Leader knew what they were about to do was wrong. They could’ve bound and gagged the guy and un-assed the AO. They could’ve held him and called close air or mortars. What they chose to do was to create a cover story and then to plant evidence on the guy. They had enough time to do that, but not enough time to do something else, I guess. That’s Evan Vela’s own site that says that. He never once said to his Squad Leader “hey, Sarn’t, I think we should do something else.” I don’t remember any manual or school or training program that advocated covering your ass before chosing to break the law and then planting evidence. I doubt they teach that in sniper school, but I could be wrong. Maybe they do things differently in your service, Anon. Hell, if they’d just panicked, that would be one thing. What they did is entirely different.
    Hunsaker, Claggett, Gireaux all claimed that they were given an order which would be illegal on it’s face “kill all military aged males.” Are you freaking kidding me? Why, if this order came from the Brigade Commander, did not the entire brigade obey the order? The bodies should’ve been shoulder deep.
    Everything we did, we reported. The good things as well as the mistakes. As an embedded trainer, everything my ANA unit did, I reported. That was my job. So, no. while I did see soldiers make mistakes, and sometimes excercised bad judgement, and made a few mistakes myself, I never saw anybody pre-meditate a crime. To hear you tell it, I must have just been lucky that way.
    So, how many war crimes did you witness?

  19. soonergrunt says:

    Even if they made horrific mistakes in judgment, for some of them to serve 40 years for a choice on the battlefield when the Taliban walk free from killing our soldiers makes it tough to “rationalize FAIRNESS.”

    Let’s let everyone who has been convicted of a crime in theatre out with a pardon because that would only be fair, the enemy having no standards. Hell, let’s stop wearing uniforms. Let’s just not have any standards because it’s just too damn hard. While we’re at it, let’s just make it a rule that any time a civilian looks at one of us funny, we shoot him in the head and rape his children. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be really hard to win if we don’t act completely like the Taliban. How about we institute Afghan-American Thursdays? What say you to a little buggery of civilian boys at gunpoint? After all, the Taliban do it.

  20. soonergrunt says:

    And last but not least, the US military executed 141 personnel for capital crimes during WWII, including crimes against enemy civilians.
    While I am not a huge fan of the death penalty, there was a functioning military justice system that investigated and prosecuted crimes and meted out punishments, and the military services were able to fight the war very effectively.

  21. truthwillsethimfree says:

    soonergrunt,

    Be patient…the football season is just around the corner. So contain your Monday morning quarterbacking to the gridiron and not the battlefield!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think soonergrunt has owned this conversation, so peddle your snark elsewhere. As someone with four combat tours, I’d say the man has the right to “monday morning quarterback.” By the way, the use of that term is ironic, since the supporters of the Leavenworth 10 are doing the same thing WRT the decisions of the sentencing and convening authorities. The supporters don’t like the decisions that the judges, members, and CAs made.

  23. Anon says:

    Anyone can write on a Blog site that they served 4 tours. Do you honestly think that someone who served 4 tours reported every violation of the UCMJ observed? The Army would still be investigating his Unit and I am sure soldiers would have lined up to be under Soonergrunt’s command – Get real. I think all the families of the Leavenworth 10 are asking for is to consider that these acts were during stressful wartime situations and a little clemency. We all fall short..

  24. W says:

    No – we all don’t. And that’s the point.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Anon,

    There is a difference between falling short and engaging in a criminal enterprise, isn’t that the point? So, is it likely that soonergrunt reported every time one of his fellow soldiers said, “Man, Captain so and so is a _____” No, not likely, although that could be seen as contemptuous words. That, however, is different from murder/abuse of detainees/rape and covering up the same. That’s not called falling short. That’s called deciding the rules don’t apply to you.

  26. Anon says:

    Well, I guess W is Christ.

    Anonymous – from the commentary of Soonergrunt on this Blog, I don’t think he needs anybody to speak to what he meant when he said he reported “everything” they did.

  27. Anonymous says:

    They did their crimes in Iraq so let them out……

  28. soonergrunt says:

    Whether you believe I did 1 combat tour, 4 combat tours, none, or whether you believe I was ever in the Army is utterly beside the point. It’s irrelevant. You can believe that I’m really a 12-year-old girl-scout if you want.
    The question here is this: do you think that there should be two sets of military law, one for people deployed and one for everyone else? Because when you try to make excuses and say things like “that these acts were during stressful wartime situations” that is exactly the effect of what you are saying.
    The place for that argument, as I understand it, is in the sentencing phase of a Court Martial, and it is well and good that the members or the judge and the convening authority should take cognizance of it. But it shouldn’t ever excuse premeditated murder.
    The fact that we hold ourselves accountable is that which makes us better than the Taliban. Why on earth would anyone with a shade of self-respect ever want to be like them in any way?
    By the way, does anyone want some cookies?

  29. Dwight Sullivan says:

    soonergrunt, to those of us who practice military law on a daily basis, what you wrote is doubly amusing. We have to deal with an awful lot of service members who attempted to entice girls they met over the Internet to have sex with them, only to discover that they’ve actually been swapping e-mails with a law enforcement agent. So in our experience, middle-aged men pretend to be 12-year-old girls on the Internet. Your posts are the first I’ve seen by a twelve-year-old girl pretending to be a middle-aged man.

  30. soonergrunt says:

    So in our experience, middle-aged men pretend to be 12-year-old girls on the Internet. Your posts are the first I’ve seen by a twelve-year-old girl pretending to be a middle-aged man.

    You guys are all gonna make me pay for that for a long time aren’t you?

  31. Dwight Sullivan says:

    Yup.

  32. truthwillsethimfree says:

    anon 0855,

    I didn’t know that soonergrunt owned this blog, thanks for the info. Maybe the name should be changed from caaflog to soonergruntlog to avoid any further confusion.

    As for the “right to Monday morning quarterbacking”, please let me know what part of the US Constitution that gives him that right.

    Soonergrunt admitted to forming opinions based on incomplete information. Nothing is more dangerous than making decisions without gaining all the facts and knowledge about a particular scenario, whether you are a “four tour vet” or a “girl scout”. Both should “BE PREPARED”.

    So, hook your lasso to soonergrunt who admitted to formulating his position on incomplete information and half-truths. All the supporters of 1LT Behenna have ever wanted was a fair trial (a right that IS granted to him by the US Constitution). If the result is the same, then they will not be happy but will have to accept the verdict as it came from a fair and just trial.

  33. Anonymous says:

    “These 10 soldiers/Marines are not to be thrown away. Each of their service records appear to be replete with medals and great service to our country. Even if they made horrific mistakes in judgment, for some of them to serve 40 years for a choice on the battlefield when the Taliban walk free from killing our soldiers makes it tough to “rationalize FAIRNESS.”

    I am fine with the idea that even guilty men deserve fair trials, and so if it turns out the government did hold back evidence then new trial, no question, easy answer.

    But you seem to make a completely different argument, and one that is pretty hard to buy into and it basically is, well the Taliban get to walk free but our guys get held accountable.

    So which is it, are we no better than the Taliban and thus take our moral cues from them and mirror their ethics, or do we uphold our values regardless of what our enemy does? I hope it’s the latter but you seem to argue the former.

    These folks weren’t thrown away, they voluntarily chose to make decisions, if guilty, to throw themselves away. This is the world of today, we aren’t Sparta.
    Your attitude seems to be shoot them and let God sort them out because it’s safer that way.

    Well, with all due respect, that’s not America.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be Christ to follow the ROE.

    In fact, I’m sure of it. You’re snark and sarcasm are writing checks your argument can’t cash.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Col. Sullivan I fear you are suffering from a lack of imagination, somewhere, someplace on the internet, there is someone who has a fetish for pre-pubescent girls who pretend to be middle-aged men.

    Probably not on Facebook though.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry, were you there during the shootings? Did you defend or prosecute this case? Were you on the panel?

    If the answer to those things is no, then I’d say you also have incomplete information, in fact, everyone here has incomplete information.

    The question at least in Behenna is whether or not the jury heard all of the evidence they were supposed to, not whether or not he shot the guy.

    If they withheld evidence then re-try the case, but that doesn’t remove the ability of folks to judge whether they think such evidence will make a difference as to whether a jury will find him innocent at a re-trial.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I think you miss the whole point Anonymous 1032. It is our US Army who cuts the Taliban loose by the thousands(I believe the Taliban live a lifestyle of killing Americans- probably equates to pre-meditation), but the same US Army will not give so much as a day of clemency to soldiers who serve 19 1/2 years of service for our country. The released Taliban will likely kill our soldiers again, John Hatley would not.

  38. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect, that’s overwrought hyperbole, not a day of clemency, really?
    If you are using clemency in the narrow term of what the CG does, then guess what, almost no one gets clemency of that nature, because generally they go with what the panel/Judge who heard all of the evidence gave as a punishment.

    In the broader sense, all of the facts are considered by that panel of military members who are often combat vets themselves.

    I see no relation between releasing Taliban and whether or not we can ignore the rules. You don’t get to ignore the rules because your enemy doesn’t play fair if you want to maintain your moral standing.

    Now if you don’t care about our moral standing, then I supposed that amoral stance gives your position meaning, but most of us in fact do care about our moral standing.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Since when is compassion amoral? Who said anything about ignoring rules?
    Let me draw this out for you. The US Army releases the enemy who has killed our soldiers, and the government has reelased figures that a percentage of these Taliban go right back to killing our soldiers.
    The SAME US Army tells a US soldier who served 19 1/2 years of service to our country that after serving a year in prison without incident that they will not reduce his sentence one day.

    The relationship is our soldier serves 40 years for being convicted of killing one insurgent, and the Taliban fighters who killed an untold number of Americans walks free. If you say that is how we maintain our moral standing in the world – I suggest you turn around and see who is following you in that moral majority line.

  40. Southern Defense Counsel says:

    Anonymous,

    Are you saying that the Army is releasing the Taliban because they are granting them clemency? I was under the impression that many insurgents/Taliban/Al Quaeda are released because although we know they are bad dudes there isn’t sufficient evidence to hold them for trial. From friends who served in Iraq, I know that the TF 134 detainees against whom there was sufficient evidence were brought to (Iraqi) trial, and many were executed. I’m not so sure that releasing the Taliban fighters is a matter of clemency and not just a matter of lacking hard evidence.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Your candor and honesty is to be admired. Kudos.

  42. Anon says:

    It is all symantics. The US Army is releasing Taliban members who have pre-meditated thoughts and actions to kill CF soldiers/Marines. The Army would never release what evidence they have against those released.
    I would say in the one case documented here, that this would be worth taking to trial to keep this Taliban member from killing more soldiers- if you believe all prisoners of war should go to trial. There is 100% more physical evidence in this case than what the Army used to convict Hatley. The lack of physical evidence, and physical corroboration of witness statements in the Hatley case would have prevented it from ever being brought to trial in the civilian world.

  43. Anon says:

    Sorry, here is the link for the Reintegration Program:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/world/asia/24reconcile.html?_r=1&src=mv

  44. truthwillsethimfree says:

    Anon 1046,

    Again, you make judgements without complete information. Not everyone on this blog is as uninformed as you and soonergrunt about the Behenna case so maybe you should stop with the assumptions (you know what they say).

    As for making judgements on the evidence, that is all that the supporters of the LT have ever asked for. The judge made the determination that the panel would not have come to a different verdict even though he stated that Dr. MacDonnell’s testimony was “new and non-cummulative”. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t that one of the requirements to be exculpatory? The LT chose a panel verdict of his peers and not one directed by the judge who seems to possess special powers to read minds.

    Lastly, there is alot more to the case before the Appeals Court so unless you have access then you don’t have ALL the evidence.

  45. truthwillsethimfree says:

    Anon 1046,

    Again, you make judgements without complete information. Not everyone on this blog is as uninformed as you and soonergrunt about the Behenna case so maybe you should stop with the assumptions (you know what they say).

    As for making judgements on the evidence, that is all that the supporters of the LT have ever asked for. The judge made the determination that the panel would not have come to a different verdict even though he stated that Dr. MacDonnell’s testimony was “new and non-cummulative”. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t that one of the requirements to be exculpatory? The LT chose a panel verdict of his peers and not one directed by the judge who seems to possess special powers to read minds.

    Lastly, there is alot more to the case before the Appeals Court so unless you have access then you don’t have ALL the evidence in which to base your opinions.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I have read the briefs in Behenna, have you? So I’d say I have a decent understanding of the issues involved. I haven’t made a lot of “judgments,” my personal “judgment” of Behenna is irrelevant as to what the law is, and what moral war requires.

    The fact that you think merely because evidence is “new and non-cumulative” that fact ends the analysis of whether or not the panel would have come to a different verdict suggests you aren’t viewing this through the appropriate lens or knowledge base, but through the eyes of a friend/loved-one, which truly I have sympathy and understanding for.