A defense fund has been established to help 3 Navy SEALs who face charges stemming from accusations an Iraqi detainee made after he was captured.
The US Navy SEALs blog, a private site, said, “The case revolves around an alleged incident in September, where one of the SEALs – Matthew McCabe – apparently punched suspect Ahmed Hashim Abed in the stomach. Jonathan Keefe and Julio Huertas are being accused of covering up and lying about the said incident.”
Petty Officer 2nd class Matthew McCabe was arraigned Dec. 7—Pearl Harbor Day. The Virginian-Pilot said McCabe didn’t plea and his trial begins Jan. 19. The Pilot said Petty Officer 1st class Julio Huertas, who was also arraigned the same day, pleaded not guilty to three charges—“dereliction of duty for not protecting a detainee in custody, making a false statement, and impeding the investigation into the alleged abuse.” Petty Officer 2nd class Jonathan Keefe will be arraigned later the paper said.
The plight of the SEALS has sparked broad support from Americans. A Facebook group supporting the SEALs now has 66,807 members following the case and sharing information. Numbers will likely continue to grow.
The Navy SEALs Fund was started by Maritime Tactical Security, Inc., a company of former SEALs. According to a post on the Facebook page, the non-profit defense fund (not directly related to the FB group) will “minimize the financial burden for the three Navy SEALs charged in detainee abuse. Any funds remaining at the conclusion of the case will be donated to SEALs who have been injured and/or permanently disabled as a result of action in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The US Report contacted attorney Monica L. Lombardi to ask about evidence—thus far, none has been publicly presented by the government. Lombardi confirmed that to Fox News during a phone interview with Greta Van Susteren. Lombardi said her client, Huertas, had been charged in October. Lombardi said her discovery request, filed more than a week prior to the arraignment, had been denied.
The US Report asked Lombardi by email, “Is this an unsual tactic, to not present any evidence at an arraignment?”
Lombardi responded, “I don't think it was a tactic by the government but it is very unusual to not have the evidence figured out before you charge a person with a crime.”
Many people who have posted on the Facebook page believe the charges are politically driven. The SEALs could have agreed to the charges being handled in a non-judicial manner, but that process could have left suspicion hanging over their records and possibly the future of their careers.
The Navy SEALs blog said, “[T]he fact that the SEALs did not agree to a non-judicial reprimand seems to signify that the SEALs may just have been doing their jobs. It is rather difficult to imagine that a SEAL will punch anyone for no apparent reason. Having the evidence released to the public may shed more light into the situation and may help regulate public perception, but pending that, it is rather difficult to not be sympathetic to the SEALs.”
The US Report has attempted to contact LTC Holly Silkman for information. Silkman has served as the military spokesperson for the case. Our email received no response; we await a response to a phone message we left earlier this morning.
According to numerous media accounts, the alleged terrorist is believed to have been involved in the killings of 4 contractors and subsequent desecration of their bodies in Fallujah in 2003. One of the contractors was a former SEAL.
The Pilot said approximately 100 supporters showed up outside Norfolk Naval Station the day of the arraignment.
Within an hour of publication of the first story about accusations levied at the SEALs at The US Report, the conservative group Free Republic posted a link and many commenters pledged support.
A notice in the defense fund announcement on the Maritime Tactical Security website said, “These SEALs are defending their honor while standing up against the same political correctness that is tearing apart our country. These heroes deserve our support. We want to minimize the financial burden this case is creating for them and their families.”
Fox News' Greta van Susteren interviewed Monica Lombardi, an attorney who represents Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas in a case involving accusations made by an Iraqi detainee who is allegedly a terrorist involved in slayings of contractors in Iraq in 2003.