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Should we as a Nation Allow Combat Zone Convictions?

In combat, we can bomb and kill people, even in their sleep. We don’t convict pilots who drop a bomb on the wrong house, and we shouldn’t. Yet if you come face to face with an insurgent, with one individual, and you’re making a split-second decision, you can be prosecuted for murder.

- Scott Behenna, whose son was convicted of a combat-zone crime

 

When Michael Behenna told his parents he wanted to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they were proud.

Worried, too.

The Behennas themselves were devoted to careers in public service. Scott Behenna was an FBI intelligence analyst and retired Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation special agent. Vicki Behenna prosecuted Timothy McVeigh for the lethal Oklahoma City bombing.

 

But as parents they were fearful that if he were deployed to a battlefield, Michael, the eldest of their three sons, could be maimed or killed.

Instead, First Lt. Michael Behenna returned from Iraq in 2008 with a murder charge. He was found guilty of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone and locked up at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan.

Behenna admitted during his trial that instead of taking an Iraqi prisoner, Ali Mansur, home after a 2008 interrogation in Iraq -- as he was ordered to do --  he took him to a railroad culvert. There he stripped Mansur and questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna’s platoon, which Behenna had witnessed.

“When you send a child over to fight in a war, the last thing you think you’ll ever have to deal with is seeing him be charged with killing an Al Qaeda" terrorist, Scott Behenna said to Fox News.

Behenna, who was 24 at the time, said he acted in self-defense when Mansur threw a chunk of concrete at him, and reached for the lieutenant’s handgun. The Army said the argument didn’t stand up, because Behenna was already pointing his weapon at the prisoner. Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison, which was reduced to 15. In 2014, when he had served five years, he was granted parole.

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So Now back to the question. Should we as a nation allow our soldiers to be convicted for such things when in a war zone? This particular case is a complicated one but what about a more simple situation such as a U.S. sailor enliste in the nave being convicted and sentenced to years in prison becasue he took pictures of himself and with his fellow sailors onboard a nuclear submarine as well as the exteriror of the submarine while surfaced for resupply or in a foriegn port on leave?  There are thousands of arbitrary military laws that result in enlisted men and women being convicted of very serious charges that ultimately destroy their careers and lives after they signed up and volunteered to go out and put their lives on the line to protect us. What do you think?

 

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Replies

  • The first mistake that this man made was stripping him of his clothes. His second was not securely restraining him. That in and of itself is an act that is designated to put someone in a compromising position. His second mistake was not securing him as a prisoner. If you don't go by the dictated rules of engagement you are going to have things like this happen. It's the reason that certain protocols are in place. Speaking as someone that served in the Navy I can tell you they pretty much give you the rules of the stuff you are not supposed to do up front.

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