Today, PO Huertas was found not guilty. Even still, this whole situation is a fiasco.
The terrorist they are accused of assaulting is himself accused in the deaths of four Americans. In 2004, four Blackwater guards were killed, and their lifeless bodies were burned, hacked at, decapitated, and dragged through the streets of Fallujah before two were hanged on a bridge over the Euphrates to the cheering of crowds of insurgents. These atrocities were captured on video by members of al Qaeda to be posted on the internet. The man who planned the attack on the guards and the ensuing atrocities perpetrated upon them was one of Iraq's most wanted terrorists, Ahmed Hashim Abed.
Abed was captured on the battlefield last September and placed in custody. There is photographic evidence that he had a fat lip, but was it obtained during battle or his "arrest", was it self-inflicted so that he could claim abuse, or was it really a case of one of our men going too far? It's hard to say, the testimony is conflicting. And, quite frankly, if all he got was a fat lip, he should be thanking his lucky stars. Many al Qaeda fight to the death to ensure they are not captured alive; many end up with broken bones and other injuries for their efforts.
The predicament our SEALs find themselves in illustrates a larger problem. Our enemies recognize our government's obsession with political correctness for what it is in the theater of war - weakness. A savvy leader exploits any weakness in his enemy that he can, and so they are. It's appalling. This ridiculous exercise has taken three of our top warriors off the battlefield, all on the word of a known killer. It is also demoralizing the warriors still on the battlefield and endangers them because they are constantly second-guessing themselves, for fear they themselves might end up court martialed. It also proves to al Qaeda that their tactic of accusations works spectacularly - they have one soldier off the battlefield, we have three. What great odds - especially if the dirtbag terrorist ends up getting his own charges dropped due to the "assault" he has allegedly suffered while in custody. After all, we are now apparently prosecuting enemy combatants captured on the battlefield as common criminals, and common criminals get off on such loopholes all the time.
The jury in the court martial deliberated for a mere two hours before handing down the not guilty verdict. They cited the conflicting testimony of the one US military member who testified on behalf of the prosecution and the lack of credibility of the "victim", Abed. The al Qaeda field manual actually encourages any of it's soldiers who are captured to claim abuse because, as this case so clearly illustrates, our military, in their quest for political correctness, are fine with tying our own soldier's hands to attain the moral high ground. What we need to remember is that these people we are fighting are barely one step away from rabid animals. We need to understand that we are fighting an enemy that not only is not bound to the Geneva Conventions but sees our adherence to it as a weakness to be exploited.
Our enemies have no rules and we have bound, gagged and shackled ourselves with rules.
It is important to say that hitting someone who was handcuffed and hooded, terrorist or not, is certainly beyond the realm of acceptable. Abed's testimony that he was punched in the stomach has been backed up by testimony from another sailor, but the jury found his testimony to be conflicting with other sailor's accounts of events. I have to admit a bit of puzzlement, because Abed testified that he was still hooded, but the serviceman testified that after the stomach punch he saw blood come out of Abed's mouth (via Fox News):
He testified Wednesday that he was sitting in a chair with his hands bound behind him and hood over his head when he was hit from behind on the shoulder and back, fell to his knees and was then picked back up and struck in the stomach....
....In earlier testimony, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino testified he saw SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe punch the prisoner in the stomach and watched blood spurt from his prisoner's mouth.
How can that be, if he had a hood on? Is it possible Abed was taunting them, specifically for the purpose of claiming abuse? All we really know for sure is that this enemy has no boundaries - there is nothing they won't stoop to (hmmmm...I wonder if they've been reading Alinsky). I have not heard any testimony about whether Abed was taunting the accused men, but I find it hard to believe that these SEALs, who all had years of service under their belts, would have risked their own careers just to punch some terrorist for no reason. Above and beyond all of that, it seems our military brass are missing an important fact. The fact is, sometimes you have to speak in a way the opposition understands. These people seem to only understand brutality. Anything else is seen as weakness.
Tomorrow PO Keefe's trail begins, and hopefully he will be vindicated as well. PO McCabe will be on trial in May. For those who would like to show their support for the SEALs, please check out this facebook page or this "Support the SEALs" site. I will update as verdicts come in.
UPDATE: PO Keefe has been found not guilty. The verdict wasn't a surprise, considering the "victim" changed his testimony from yesterday. Today he claims he was kicked in the stomach, not punched. Seems like the al Qaeda handbook needs to be updated to remind the terrorists to be consistent on the witness stand. Two vindicated, one to go....