EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is the latest message sent by Scott and Vicki Behenna about their son, Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, a man who’s serving a 15-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth following his wrongful conviction, sentencing and imprisonment for killing a known Al-Qaeda operative in Iraq in self-defense:
To all Michael Behenna supporters,
With the Freedom Ride for the Leavenworth 10 almost here I wanted to give all of Michael’s supporters an update on his appeal. Seven long months after Michael’s lawyers filed his brief with the appellate court the government finally filed its response brief on July 20, 2010. As a government lawyer myself I have to say that I am very disappointed in the government’s brief. In my 22 years as a federal prosecutor I have never seen a government lawyer misrepresent facts to an appellate court as was done in this brief. I understand that a lawyer must advocate his position, but as a young lawyer in the Department of Justice I was taught that my primary goal was to seek justice. Justice requires that a prosecutor act fairly, ethically and in all things uphold the constitution which we are sworn to defend.
Unfortunately, the principals of justice and professional ethics have been completely disregarded by the military lawyers in Michael’s case. They seemingly created facts to fit their arguments rather than argue the case on its merits. Michael’s lawyer, Jack Zimmerman, needed no less than 18 pages in his reply brief to correct the countless misrepresentations of fact repeatedly made by the government. It is a sad day for the military justice system for the government attorneys to be so disingenuous in their arguments.
That being what it is the next step in the appeals process is for oral arguments to be made before the Army Court of Appeals. Once this is done then we wait for their decision which we pray will come before Christmas. We firmly believe that the truth will literally set Michael free when the appellate court applies the rule of law and reverses his conviction. One truth that Michael has learned from this unimaginable experience is that events don’t define a person; rather it is a person’s reaction to those events that defines them. We have seen our son at his best throughout this travesty of justice. He does not wallow in anger or bitterness and is using his time in prison to help those around him and to gain a deeper wisdom beyond his years. To paraphrase a few lines from the poem Invictus, ‘In the fell clutch of circumstance he has not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance his head is bloody, but unbowed.’ Michael is a rock and no amount of injustice will break his unconquerable spirit.
We hope to see many of you at the Leavenworth 10 Freedom Ride and Rally at Leavenworth, Kan., Sept. 4. This Rally is going to be very exciting and if you have not already visited L10FreedomRide.com please do as it contains all you need to know about this monumental event. We have participants attending from all over the country and are honored to have Congressional candidate Lt. Col. Allen West, Army Ret., as our keynote speaker. Our goal is to bring awareness to the plight of ten young men who served their country bravely on the front lines of the war on terror; eight of whom still find themselves behind bars. We believe their stories deserve to be told and our prayer is that these soldiers, who were all charged with combat related incidents, will be given the same mercy and clemency as the Army is affording members of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Note that the Freedom Ride is open to vehicles and motorcycles alike so please spread the word to join us in Leavenworth on the 4th. For additional details about the route of the Freedom Ride you can read this article in the Leavenworth Times.com. You can also go to L10freedomride.com to purchase a flag, patch, or t-shirt for the ride to Leavenworth or to simply make a donation to help underwrite this event.
And finally please take a moment and watch Larry Mendte’s piece entitled Is that Justice? It is very thought provoking to say the least. Click here to watch this video.
Thanks again for your overwhelming support of an American soldier we proudly call our son. We hope to thank you in person at the Freedom Ride on September 4th in Leavenworth.