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Military jury clears Navy SEAL Huertas in trial at Camp Victory

Petty Officer 1st class Julio Huertas has been cleared of “willfully” failing to safeguard a detainee in a military trial held in Camp Victory located in Baghdad (Iraq). The verdict came on Thursday.

Huertas and two of his fellow SEALs faced an assortment of charges in a case that galvanized hundreds of thousands on Main Street and quite possibly antagonized some politicians.

Social media websites like Facebook as well as sites like Maritime Tactical Security and individual bloggers kept up with a case largely ignored by corporate media with the exception of Fox News. David Lussier, founder of the Facebook page Support the Navy SEALs who captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, kept supporters informed at every turn including developments from other support sites.

The US Report followed the case from the beginning after an appeal from author and unofficial military advocate Betty Kilbride.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) led efforts with other Republican members of Congress to have charges dropped. To our knowledge, no Democrat members of Congress offered support.

Still to come are trials for Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe to be held immediately on Friday now that Huertas’ trial is concluded and for Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe. Keefe will be tried at Camp Victory. McCabe, who faced a different judge, will be tried in Norfolk, Va., on May 3.

A wire story said the Iraqi detainee claimed he was punched in the stomach, beaten by US troops while hooded and tied to a chair, and experienced blood spurting from his mouth.

Photos of Ahmed Hashim Abed, however, showed no injuries other than a minor cut inside his lip. No serious injuries were found by medical personnel either. Had the SEALs wanted to harm him, they could have easily done so when they captured him without incident—as a matter of fact, they could have quietly killed him had they wanted.

Why would any of them have had such opportunity but acted at a time of greatest risk, after the detainee was in custody? That very scenario defied the rigorous training and command of reason SEALs experience in order to become one of the few who graduate training.

Abed is suspected of planning and implementing an attack in Fallujah in 2004. After 4 private contractors were killed, their bodies were set afire and dragged through the streets. Two of the bodies were hung from a bridge. Anyone familiar with the Muslim faith will realize the serious level of disrespect shown by that display.

None of the original charge sheets carried details matching up to Abed’s various claims. The government had also requested a delay in Huertas’ case even though his attorney Monica Lombardi disagreed.

In addition, a commenter on the military justice blog CAAFlog pointed out the blog had the referred charge sheets before the accused were even served. Another commenter pointed out though the SEALs were accused of lying, others had certainly lied, including the investigators.

The SEALs demanded a trial rather than a less complicated reprimand, but the reprimand would likely have destroyed their careers.

McCabe also passed an independently administered lie detector test.

Huertas told the Associated Press he planned to go home to Illinois and kiss his wife.

These men, however, face sizable expenses for their private defense. Donations are still needed and can be made at Maritime Tactical Security. TUSR recommends that website because we have vetted it to the best of our ability and we also have contributed to the fund there.

A poster using the nickname JWS said something at the CAAFlog blog that resonates. I never understood how military leadership could push these charges based on the evidence. JWS summed it up by quoting Gen. George S. Patton: “There’s a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent.”

The government could easily do the right thing and drop remaining charges against the other two SEALs. The government’s cases have basically collapsed. It is unnecessary and frivolous to cause these men to spend any more money, or the government either, to pursue prosecutions that amount to persecutions at this point.

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