Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and 40 other Republican congressmen are calling for all charges to be dropped against 3 Navy SEALs in a matter involving an alleged terrorist detainee in Iraq.
Commentary by Kay B. Day
The US Report has tracked the plight of 3 Navy SEALs facing various charges involving the detention of alleged terrorist Ahmed Hashim Abed in Iraq. Early media reports suggested the detainee had either a bruised lip or had taken a blow to the stomach while in detention. One of the only official statements from military brass can be found in a letter from Maj. General Charles T. Cleveland to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.):
“While the assault and resulting injury to the detainee were relatively minor, the more disconcerting allegations are those related to the Sailors’ attempts to cover-up the incident, particularly in what appears to be an effort to influence the testimony of a witness. All of these allegations were fully investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).”
But based on what we know, the letter actually does little to clear up the confusion.
GENERAL’S LETTER RAISES MORE QUESTIONS
Cleveland wrote to Burton after the congressman sent him a letter December 10. Burton’s letter carried the signature of 40 Republican congressmen asking that “charges be dropped immediately, and for the Navy SEALs to be restored to their capacity within the Special Forces so they can continue the heroic business of fighting our nation’s most wanted enemies.”
Cleveland’s letter also said he “chose to deal with this incident administratively via nonjudicial punishment.” But the SEALs “elected to exercise their UCMJ rights to refuse such a hearing.”
Cleveland’s letter does nothing more than make the waters murkier.
If you were guilty, would you take an easy pass? If you were innocent, wouldn’t you want full disclosure and wouldn’t you be very brave to seek redress in a military court rather than taking said pass?
Questions abound. Were there possibilities for the alleged terrorist to self-inflict injury and claim he’d been hurt? If the injuries were insignificant, why are the reputations of 3 expert warriors on the line? When an alleged terrorist is captured, do we assume he said, “Hi, soldiers. I’d love to go with you and be detained”? Or do we assume said terrorist probably resisted?
Cleveland claimed “other U.S. service members” raised allegations about the SEALs. Were those service members SEALs? Did military politics and political correctness perhaps play a role in their raising the allegations?
WHERE IS AN ACCOUNT OF THE FACTS?
The major general also said, “A medical examination conducted at the time the detainee was turned over to U.S. forces determined that his alleged injuries were inflicted several hours after the operation had ended, and while in the custody and care of the U.S. at Camp Schweidler’s detainee holding facility.” If the injuries were minor, exactly how much science figured in determining the extent and timing of his alleged injuries?
Cleveland also accused media of “incomplete and factually inaccurate press coverage.” Cleveland can take some credit for that himself because no specifics are forthcoming from the military. Repeated calls to the office of his excecutive assistant were not even successful in reaching a voice mail system. The US Report did leave a message for the exec assistant in December. The call was never returned.
This begs the question—is Cleveland concerned about his own career? If he does nothing about the allegations, will leftwingers call for his scalp? Is he at the mercy of a trickle down policy from the current administration who obviously endorses a kinder, gentler approach not only with suspected terrorists but with also with self-confessed terrorists?
After receiving Cleveland’s response letter which included “previously released, redacted copies of the charge sheets,” Burton remained unconvinced. Responding by letter, he wrote, “Having reviewed all of the material you provided, I still have to strongly disagree with the decision of your officers to pursue punishment of these Navy SEALs.”
Burton repeated his request that the “impending trials” and charges be stopped.
PUBLIC SUPPORTS THE SEALS
At the moment, the Facebook group Support The Navy SEALs who Captured Ahmed Hashim Abed has grown to 98,674 members. Another group Maritime Tactical Security has started a defense fund online where supporters can contribute to help these men deal with the costs of defending themselves against allegations from a suspected terrorist and from the person(s) within the military concerned about minor injuries of said suspected terrorist.
Where is a factual statement for the public, recounting the specific allegations from fellow service members? Did they witness an act or did they base their allegations on conclusions after the alleged fact?
The US Report expresses sadness that the families of these men had to deal with this sort of political brouhaha over the holidays.
And we express dismay that the leaders of our great republic have brought us to our knees, from within and without, on whimsical circumstances that elevate the rights of an alleged terrorist over the rights of 3 men who put their lives on the line to do their job and bring him to justice.
TIMELY DISCLOSURE IS NEEDED
The US Report joins 41 Republican congressmen and nearly 100,000 Americans in respectfully asking Maj. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland to release the same information he provided to Rep. Dan Burton about this case. For one thing, if the information is in the hands of a congressman, I believe it is subject to Freedom of Information requests.
For another, if the general wants to clear up “incomplete and factually incorrect press coverage,” the ball is in his hands. A sturdy well-aimed pass is in order.