Michael Behenna Gives First Television Interview Since Release From Military Prison

Michael Behenna, the former Army Ranger officer whose wrongful conviction has been the subject of dozens of pieces during the past four years, gave is first television interview yesterday, 12 days after being released on parole from military prison.

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

To see photos of the location in Iraq where the shooting of the known Al-Qaeda operative Ali Mansur took place, read Photos Show Scene Where Trail of Injustice Began.

Culvert 3 Low-RezTo read Carrie Fatigante’s nine-part series about Behenna’s case, go to The Michael Behenna Story: Getting Personal.

To read about the Army’s refusal to release a copy of the investigation report about the incident involving Behenna, read go to Army 15-6 Investigation Report Proves Elusive.

To learn about Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, one of the wrongfully-convicted men Behenna talked about during the television interview, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Michael Behenna Goes Home

GREAT NEWS!  First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, the young Army Ranger officer sent to prison for killing a known al-Qaeda operative in Iraq, walked out of the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., this morning, bound for his hometown of Edmond, Okla., barely a month after being granted parole by the U.S. Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington, D.C.

Behenna, 30, spent five years behind bars after being sentenced to 25 years and, later, having that term reduced to 15 years.  While there, he and Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, the man whose life story is chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, became good friends behind bars at Fort Leavenworth.

Since June 4, 2009, I’ve written and published more than 60 articles about his case, including the four highlighted below:

Army 15-6 Investigation Report Proves Elusive (Jan. 15, 2013);

• Is Army Protecting Someone in Officer’s Chain of Command? (Aug. 20, 2012);

• American Warfighters Deserve Same Consideration as Taliban (July 17, 2012); and

Photos Show Scene Where Trail of Injustice Began (Feb. 10, 2010).

Best wishes to all, and welcome home, Michael!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Michael Behenna Earns Parole

First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, the young Army Ranger officer sent to prison for killing a known al-Qaeda operative in Iraq, has been granted parole by the U.S. Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington, D.C., according to a news report today.  He will be released from prison March 14.

Clockwise from upper left:  Michael's family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Clockwise from upper left: Michael’s family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Behenna, 30, has been behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for five years after being sentenced to 25 years and, later, having that term reduced to 15 years.

NewsOk Behenna ParoleBelow are a handful of links to the most important articles among the more than 60 articles I’ve published about his case since June 4, 2009:

Army 15-6 Investigation Report Proves Elusive (Jan. 15, 2013);

• Is Army Protecting Someone in Officer’s Chain of Command? (Aug. 20, 2012);

• American Warfighters Deserve Same Consideration as Taliban (July 17, 2012); and

Photos Show Scene Where Trail of Injustice Began (Feb. 10, 2010).

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Oklahoma Army Officer’s Appeal

A crucial milestone in the military’s case against Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna passed today as the U.S. Supreme Court announced justices rejected the appeal filed on behalf of the Edmond, Okla., native who was convicted in 2009 of unpremeditated murder after he shot and killed Ali Mansur, a known al-Qaeda operative, in what he said was self-defense near Baghdad May 16, 2008.

Clockwise from upper left:  Michael's family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Clockwise from upper left: Michael’s family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Though I’ve written more than 60 articles about the lieutenant’s case since June 4, 2009, I share links to a handful of the most important ones below:

Army 15-6 Investigation Report Proves Elusive (Jan. 15, 2013);

• Is Army Protecting Someone in Officer’s Chain of Command? (Aug. 20, 2012);

• American Warfighters Deserve Same Consideration as Taliban (July 17, 2012); and

Photos Show Scene Where Trail of Injustice Began (Feb. 10, 2010).

With almost 11 years remaining on his sentence, it remains unclear as to how many of those years he must serve before being given the opportunity for parole.  Until then, I hope you will write to him at the address below to show your support:

Michael Behenna #87503
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS  66027-2304

FYI: Behenna and Kelly Stewart, the man whose life is chronicled in my book, Three Days In August, were good friends while both were behind bars at Fort Leavenworth.

Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Oklahoma Soldier’s Supreme Court Battle Will Be Costly

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been following the case of Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna since 2009. In addition, I wrote a book, Three Days In August, about Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, another wrongfully-convicted man he befriended while both served time behind the walls of the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Today, I share an email from someone very familiar with his case:

Clockwise from upper left:  Michael's family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Clockwise from upper left: Michael’s family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

To the thousands of Michael supporters,

My name is David Wahl. I am the father of Michael Behenna’s girlfriend Shannon Wahl and run the DefendMichael.com website.  I have known Michael for several years going back to when Michael and Shannon first started dating. I attended Michael’s officer school graduation at Fort Benning, his Ranger school graduation, and his deployment to Iraq from Fort Campbell. I was in the courtroom for Michael’s trial for premeditated murder at Fort Campbell, including the moment when a jury of seven non-combat officers convicted him of unpremeditated murder. I witnessed the stunned look of betrayal on Michael’s face. I was in that same courtroom again three weeks later when the trial judge denied a request for a mistrial on a Brady Law violation (the government had withheld evidence.) And I was in the small room at the back of that courtroom with Michael and his family for his last thirty minutes of freedom before he was taken away.

These past four years that Michael has sat in a small prison cell at Fort Leavenworth have been a tortuous journey for those closest to him – but as you can imagine, most of all for his parents Vicki and Scott. They have endured the emotional pain of seeing their son treated as a criminal at the hands of a broken and blind military justice system, of five hour drives to ‘celebrate’ birthdays and holidays in a noisy visitation center, of the heartbreak of one court ruling after another go against Michael, of bizarre prison rules that change from visit to visit and which make civilian prisons look like Club Med.

But beyond the emotional toll that the Behenna’s have carried is the financial burden of taking on the United States government that has unlimited resources at their disposal (our tax dollars hard at work.) Starting with the original trial to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces [sic] appeal which we lost by a narrow 3-2 vote the Behenna’s have spent well over $400,000 in their fight for their son’s freedom. I know that so many of you have already graciously stepped forward and lightened this financial burden, but unfortunately a significant shortfall remains. And if the Supreme Court decides to hear Michael’s case that shortfall will grow by at least another $100,000.

The Behenna’s are a proud family and asking for financial support is not something they are comfortable doing, especially given how many people are in need today, including so many fellow Oklahomans devastated by the recent tornadoes. So I humbly ask each of you who believe in Michael’s cause, to consider giving a few dollars to his legal fund, which can be found on his web site at DefendMichael.com.  If each one of the thousands of supporters of Michael gave $20 then the Behenna’s would be able to cover most of the current deficit. Donations can be made through PayPal on Michael’s web site, or if you prefer you can mail a check directly to his Michael’s defense fund at:

Michael Behenna Legal Defense Fund
c/o Jack Dawson, co-trustee
100 Park Avenue, Second Floor
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102-8099

Please know that your support for Michael, whether in the form of a donation, a card, or a letter, is appreciated more than words can say. For Michael and his parents this difficult journey has only been possible because of the outpouring of support from all of you. It has sustained them in their darkest hours, of which there have been many. Finally, please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers as we await the ultimate decision by the highest court in the land on whether they will hear Michael’s case.

I remain, now and forever, a proud supporter of a young man who some day I hope will be my son-in-law.

Respectfully,

David Wahl
DefendMichael.com

Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Parents of Imprisoned Army Officer Send Update

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been following the case of Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna since 2009. In addition, I wrote a book, Three Days In August, about Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, another wrongfully-convicted man he befriended while both served time behind the walls of the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Today, I share an email update (below) from Lieutenant Behenna’s parents, Scott and Vicki Behenna:

Clockwise from upper left:  Michael's family; Michael; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

Clockwise from upper left: Michael’s family; Michael as a Soldier; Michael as a youngster; and Michael and his girlfriend, Shannon.

To all the thousands of Michael supporters,

Michael’s case, including the Petition, the Government Response, and the Reply to the Government Response, is now complete and before the Supreme Court. The Supremes have set Michael’s case to be initially discussed at their conference on May 30th which is ironically during the 50th Anniversary of Brady vs Maryland (the Supreme Court case demanding that prosecutors disclose all beneficial information to the criminally accused). During the conference, four out of the nine Supreme Court Justices must vote to hear the case in order to grant certiorari. If certiorari is granted in Michael’s case it would be the first time the Supremes would have granted a service member’s appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). Needless to say, anxiousness will abound for the next few weeks and prayers are certainly welcome. We should have the Court’s decision sometime during the first week of June. If the Court grants certiorari, Michael’s case would proceed through a briefing process, oral arguments, and a decision by the Supreme Court hopefully before the end of the year.

We can’t thank you enough for all the encouraging cards and letters that you sent to Michael for his birthday. As Michael told us this past weekend it is these cards and letters that help him navigate the sometimes helpless and hopeless thoughts that have haunted him these past four years behind prison walls. He reads every card and letter sent to him, but given his prison schedule of work, exercise time, meals and early lights out he unfortunately does not have time to send out very many thank you notes. For this he sends his apologies and hopes a day will come soon when he can thank all of you in person.

If you did not see the Mother’s Day tribute to Vicki last Sunday in the Oklahoman, hopefully the attached video and article will describe the huge appreciation we have for all your support and what your individual words of encouragement have meant to Michael and our whole family.

Vicki’s Mother’s Day Video

Vicki’s Mother’s Day Article

Bless you all for your support of our son,

Scott & Vicki Behenna
DefendMichael.com

I pray for this young man’s swift release.

Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Flag Officers Back Supreme Court Brief Filed on Behalf of Lieutenant Michael Behenna

Thirty-seven retired high-ranking military officers, including a former Chief of Naval Operations, signed an Amicus Brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Feb. 27 in support of Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna.  An Edmond, Okla., native, Lieutenant Behenna is serving 15-years behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative in Iraq.

Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna SCOTUS Amicus Brief

Click image to download document (pdf)

Early on, the 31-page brief raises an important question — that is, whether a servicemember in a combat zone categorically forfeits the right to self-defense as a matter of law by pointing a firearm without authorization at a suspected enemy.  In the case of Lieutenant Behenna, he admitted during his court-martial that he shot Ali Mansur in self-defense.  And therein lies the rub.

Behenna SCOTUS Question PresentedThe brief’s conclusion section (below) makes a clear argument, stating that Lieutenant Behenna deserves some punishment, but not what he received, and, more importantly, a new trial:

Lieutenant Behenna’s unauthorized actions in a combat zone were a serious breach of military discipline and for that reason he should be subject to appropriate disciplinary action under the (Uniform Code of Military Justice).  But in so acting without authorization, he did not forfeit his right to self-defense.  This Court should grant the petition for certiorari, reverse the (Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces), and remand to allow a new court-martial panel to consider Lieutenant Behennas’s claim that he acted in self-defense, including evidence unlawfully withheld by the prosecution corroborating that claim.

At the same time as I’m pleased with this document, I remain disappointed that its authors made no mention of the colossal failure of leadership among officers in Lieutenant Behenna’s chain of command.  That failure, a subject I tackled in a post Aug. 20, 2012, allowed him to be put in a position from which nothing good could result.

To read any of the more than 60 posts I’ve written about the lieutenant’s case since June 4, 2009, click here.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Lieutenant Behenna and Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, the man whose life story is chronicled in my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, became good friends behind bars at Fort Leavenworth.

Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.