Today, I found myself unable to pass up the opportunity to respond to the offer made in a status update on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s Facebook page: “Have a question for Secretary of Defense Ash Carter? Ask it on his Facebook page at http://facebook.com/SecDef, and he might just answer it during his Worldwide Troop Talk on Sept. 1.”
Okay, so maybe he didn’t invite me personally, but I decided to take it that way. Furthermore, though I didn’t ask SecDef Carter a direct question, I think my request below — which I sent via email to AskSecDef@mail.mil and posted here on the SecDef’s Facebook page — qualifies as a question, because it demands answers:
Dear Secretary of Defense Carter:
For months, beginning July 19, 2012, I tried unsuccessfully to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the Army 15-6 Investigation Report prepared after then-Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna shot and killed Ali Mansur, a known Al-Qaeda operative, in Albu Toma, Iraq (near Baghdad) on May 16, 2008.
First, I contacted officials at the Army Criminal Investigation Command Crime Records Center at Quantico, Va. Next, I contacted officials at the Army’s primary FOIA office at Fort Belvoir, Va. After that, I contacted officials 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 and his fellow members in 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, 2012, I forwarded a FOIA request to USARCENT, seeking a copy of the 15-6 report. Thirty-five days later, I received a reply from then-Col. Rodney L. Lightfoot, then-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.”
As an Air Force veteran, I’m asking you, Secretary Carter, to cut through this red tape of bureaucracy and get me a copy of the Army 15-6 Investigation Report concerning the incident involving Lieutenant Behenna.
Please forward the report to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via postal mail to this address: Bob McCarty, PO Box 1423, St. Charles, MO 63302-1423.
Thanks in advance for your prompt fulfillment of this request.
The “Worldwide Troop Talk” mentioned at the top of this piece will stream live from 9-10 a.m. Eastern/8-9 a.m. Central on Defense.gov, and you can count on me watching and providing an update as to how he will respond. Just in case he limits his questions to active-duty military members, I would appreciate anyone in uniform helping me out by duplicating my effort shown above. You can do that in the comments section of this SECDEF status update or via email to AskSecDef@mail.mil.
Thanks in advance for assisting me in this effort. I’ll let you know if it produces any results.
UPDATE 9/09/2015 at 9:29 a.m. Central: Because 19 days have passed without any reply to the inquiry highlighted above, I resubmitted the request via the Ask a Question online tool at Defense.gov. Not going to hold my breath as I await a reply.
UPDATE 9/11/2015 at 10:29 a.m. Central: Almost 48 hours have passed since I followed up with SecDef Carter by sending the email message referenced in the UPDATE 9/09/2015 above. In response, I’ve heard only crickets. So much for government accountability and transparency.
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