Commentary by Kay B. Day
The Virginian-Pilot said government lawyers are asking for a delay in the first trial scheduled for the Navy SEAL3. Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas Jr.’s court-martial is set for Monday, Jan. 11, in Norfolk. Huertas is charged with dereliction of duty because the government alleges he did not keep the detainee safe. He is also charged with giving a false statement to authorities in response to questions about alleged minor injuries to the detainee.
The paper reported, “His civilian attorney, Monica Lombardi, said government lawyers have asked to reschedule the trial for March 29, which she opposes.”
Lombardi has asked for more information about accusations against Huertas. Lombardi had also asked for additional information when The US Report corresponded with her by email in early December.
The US Report located the charge sheets with general details of allegations against SO2 Jonathan E. Keefe, SO2 Matthew V. McCabe and SO1 Julio A. Huertas by following a link posted at the military justice website CAAFlog.
Curiously, one anonymous commenter at CAAFlog wrote, “And kudos to CAAFlog for obtaining referred charge sheets before the accuseds were served. Quite a coup!”
Each SEAL is charged with violation of the UCMJ, Article 92, for being derelict in duties—willfully failing to safeguard a detainee.
Keefe is also charged with violation of the UCMJ, Article 107—“with intent to deceive” because he allegedly told a NCIS agent he didn’t see “anyone abuse or mistreat” the detainee, or “words to that effect.” The government claims the statement was totally false and Keefe knew it was false.
Huertas is also charged with violation of UCMJ, Article 107. In addition Huertas is charged with violation of UCMJ, Article 134—a claim that Huertas did “wrongfully endeavor to impede an investigation by wrongfully attempting to influence the testimony of Petty Officer Third Class [name redacted], U.S. Navy, as a witness before an investigating officer.”
McCabe is also charged with violation of UCMJ, Article 107. In addition he faces charges he violated UCMJ, Article 128, that he did “unlawfully strike [detainee name redacted] in the midsection with his fist.”
A news release about the Navy SEAL3 published at the U.S. Navy website, dated Dec. 4, announced publication of the charge sheets. The release said, “The Sailors are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty at Courts-martial. The charges against the accused are merely accusations. SOCCENT is committed to ensuring that the Constitutional rights of the accused are protected and to maintaining good order and discipline.”
The public can voice opinions on the Navy website where the news release is posted.
The SEAL3 case is a hot topic at the moment on message boards and on the Facebook group page Support The Navy SEALs who Captured Ahmed Hashim Abed. As this column published, the Facebook group had 99,180 members.
In Congress, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), spearheaded a request along with 40 other Republican congressmen, that charges against the SEALs be dropped. TUSR joins these Republican congressmen and other conservative media like Human Events in calling for charges to be dropped.
TUSR views this prosecution as a politically-driven military witch hunt, one of several, in response to influence from Washington pressured by leftwing criticism of the War on Terror.
Human Events reported that the detainee may not even be present for questioning in court.
The Virginian-Pilot said, “A military judge is scheduled to hear motions on the trial's schedule and Lombardi's request for more information on Huertas' alleged offenses Monday.”
A Defense Fund for the SEALs has been established by the Maritime Tactical Security group.