On July 4th we celebrated the many freedoms that all of us enjoy because of the sacrifices of millions of brave men and women in uniform since the founding of our nation. Of course July 4th was not a day of freedom for Michael or the other Leavenworth 10 who remain in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth. For them it was a painful reminder that the freedom they fought for on our behalf is no longer theirs to enjoy.
The end of the legal struggle after the Supreme Court denied Michael’s petition for certiorari just causes us to turn up the heat in the political battle to convince those in power that there is no acceptable reason to keep Michael incarcerated. In that light, James Wainscoat, a decorated veteran and strong supporter of Michael, has stepped up and helped his South Dakota State Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter to pass a Resolution that calls for Michael to be freed. This Resolution will be put before the National VFW Conference which begins July 20th in Louisville, KY. Although this was a huge step forward, this Resolution has no chance of gaining the support of the National VFW Conference unless many more VFW Chapters rally their delegates to support the Resolution. To this end we absolutely need your help NOW!!!
We ask each of you to contact your local VFW officers or State VFW delegates to voice their approval for this Resolution without delay. It is important that the National VFW committee handling resolutions know that the plea for Michael’s freedom be heard by the full convention and voted on – not killed in committee. Mr. Wainscoat said he felt that the VFW, which is the only veteran’s group recognized by a Congressional Mandate, has such a powerful voice with Congress and the Administration that a resolution by them could turn the tide in Michael’s favor. Thus it is imperative that we have the support of as many States VFW Chapters as soon as possible.
The veterans of this country have always been committed to never leaving any of their troops behind. Through the powerful influence of the VFW, whose members have bravely fought for the freedoms we too often take for granted, we will hopefully find a way to bring at least one more Soldier home. Thank you for this important first political step towards Michael’s release. Please feel free to pass this on to your military connections.
Here is the Resolution:
Resolution No #1
RELEASE OF 1st Lt. MICHAEL BEHENNA
Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was charged at an Article 32 hearing of Premeditated Murder of a known, capture or kill Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur while in custody during a field interrogation; and
Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was ordered to return known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur to the Operational area (AO) and release him in accordance with the “Catch & Release” program of suspects, not having enough evidence to continue to hold them in custody for prosecution; and
Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna took the known Al Qaeda operative back to the AO in handcuffs. Once inside the AO, he removed the handcuffs, stripped the suspect, and began to question the known Al Qaeda operative at gunpoint (in order to maintain control) as to his knowledge of the recent IED attack that had cost 1st Lt. Behenna the lives of two of his men, and two more seriously wounded; and
Whereas, according to 1st Lt. Behenna, Al Mansur lunged at the lieutenant; whereupon the lieutenant fired two control shots, killing the known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur; and
Whereas, the Army claimed 1st Lt. Behenna lost his right to self-defense as a result of pointing a firearm at the suspect for control, having removed the handcuffs from the suspect. Also in question was whether the suspect was executed in a sitting position or was attempting to disarm the Lieutenant, and cause bodily harm to 1st Lt. Behenna and others; and
Whereas, the dispute and credibility factor surrounded the fact of whether the known Al Qaeda operative was in a defenseless sitting position or in an aggressive attack mode? The dispute came down to the unwavering statement of 1st Lt. Behenna, and that of the Iraqi interpreter who because of the darkness and distance from the culvert could not provide a definitive statement as to what happened at the moment of the shooting; and
Whereas, the prosecution sent home their expert forensic witness whose testimony would have proven to be exculpatory evidence of self-defense on the part of 1st Lt. Behenna; and
Whereas, lacking the exculpatory evidence of the prosecutions forensic expert on blood splatters and bullet trajectory; 1st Lt. Behenna was denied a fair trial, up to and including the request for a writ of Certiorari from the Supreme Court; the final attempt at his Constitutional right to Due Process; now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States that we support 1st Lt. Behenna and because he was convicted under such questionable circumstances of an alleged crime in a fast-moving and fluid combat zone against a member of the most feared enemy in the world, and has spent over four years in solitary confinement at Leavenworth Military Prison; we desire that 1st Lt. Behenna be released from prison immediately to attempt to pick up the pieces of his life.
Submitted by Department of South Dakota
To the National VFW Committee on NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS The intent of this resolution is: To obtain the release of 1st Lt. Behenna, in order for him to establish his new life after his military career was terminated.