Obtaining a copy of the Army Regulation 15-6 Investigation Report prepared after Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna shot and killed a known Al-Qaeda terrorist in Iraq is proving impossible.
Since July 19, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to obtain a copy of the 15-6 report from Freedom of Information Act officials at the Army Criminal Investigation Command Crime Records Center at Quantico, Va., at the Army’s primary FOIA office at Fort Belvoir, Va., and at Fort Campbell, Ky., home to the Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry Division, parent command of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment to which Lieutenant Behenna’s 18-member Delta Company, 5th Platoon belonged.
After realizing no success with any of the agencies listed above, I contacted an official at the Crime Records Center and asked her to review the estimated 874 pages of the Report of Investigation that her agency was willing to provide me and see if the 15-6 report was among the documents included. She told me it was not and suggested I contact FOIA officials at Army Central Command (USARCENT), located at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
On Dec. 10, I forwarded a FOIA request to USARCENT, seeking the 15-6. Yesterday, 35 days later, I received a reply from Col. Rodney L. Lightfoot, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at Third Army/United States Army Central Command. He wrote:
This letter is the final response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated December 10, 2012. Your request was for a copy of the Army Regulation 15-6 investigation report that was prepared following a shooting incident that took place May 16, 2008 in Iraq. The shooting incident involved Army 1LT Michael C. Behenna and the person who was killed, an Iraqi citizen by the name of Ali Mansur.
In response to your FOIA request, our agency conducted an extensive search for records. No records were found in search of the information being requested. No fees have been assessed for this action.
Again, I’m left asking the question, “Is the Army protecting someone in the chain of command?” Meanwhile, Lieutenant Behenna remains behind bars at Fort Leavenworth, serving a 15-year sentence for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative in self-defense.
UPDATE 1/23/2013 at 8:30 a.m. Central: Yesterday, I received written confirmation of this coverup in the form of a registered letter (shown at right) from Colonel Lightfoot at USARCENT.
Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, The CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon.