Thursday, April 22, 2010

Now get back to work

...and the Salamander did grin,
The first of three Navy SEALs accused of mishandling a suspect in the high-profile killings of contractors in Iraq was found not guilty at a court-martial Thursday.

A military jury cleared U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas of all charges, a military spokesman said.

Huertas and two other Navy SEALs -- Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe -- have been facing charges in connection with the assault of Iraqi detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed.

U.S. authorities accuse Abed of being the mastermind in the slayings and mutilation of four U.S. contractors in Falluja in 2004, one of the Iraq war's most notorious crimes against Americans.
...
Huertas and Keefe had been charged with dereliction of duty, based on the allegation that they failed to safeguard the detainee, according to the military. Huertas also was charged with impeding an investigation by attempting to influence the testimony of another sailor.

UPDATE: Of note - if someone wants to throw poo - I wouldn't throw it towards the USN or SEAL leadership - review the charge sheet.

23 comments:

Byron said...

SO1, You have MY apologies for a spineless command not having your back. God knows you won't get one from those fine people.

OldCavLt said...

What Echo said.

My son wants to be a Marine.  Episodes like this play a major role in my efforts to stop him from joining.

If the Command doesn't have your back, than what's the point?

With any luck at all, the charges will be dropped against the other 2 and this farce will be over.

ActusRhesus said...

I'd be hesitant to opine on whether or not the command had his back or not without knowing all the facts.  From what I've read, this appears to be a mast refusal.  Now, we can question whether it warranted mast in the first place or not, but if a sailor refuses mast, it somewhat forces the command's hand.

LT B said...

The buzz being put out was that this was handled poorly by their community.  Political posturing by the E9/O5 levels.  That is rumor, but it wouldn't surprise me considering how the rest of the Navy works.  Kneepads and politics.  They go hand in hand.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

HUZZAH!

ActusRhesus said...

possible, but not my experience with SPECWAR.  They tend to like handling things as low level and low press as possible.  I'm not saying the command was right.  But without more facts, I won't say they were wrong either.  

BostonMaggie said...

I'll second that!  Huzzah!

John said...

Justice has been served, finally, and at great cost in wasted time and treasure.  Perhaps we showed the enemy and dubious friends that we are bending over backwards to be "fair."  But, all the time, we were detracted with this circus, the enemy was plotting how to avoid EVER being fair.

Hope the REMFs who were pushing this get sent to the front lines for a spell to get a taste of what happens when you are actually in a WAR instead of merely a deployment.

A sorry episode, but finally drifting to a conclusion, thank God.

MR T's Haircut said...

When you are right, you are right, mast or martial... I have been to one (awardee) and sat on another..  this should never have seen the light of day... pussies.

DG said...

I don't think it forces anything. The CO and/or convening authority should have asked himself the hard question about whether there was sufficent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. We all know that is not the true standard at Mast.

Redeye80 said...

Good news!

Smart move on refusing mast.  I am not sure this was even mast material.  Sounds more like PC CYA.

Someone remind me, we are at war, right? At least the military?

MAJHAM@GTMO said...

Good on him.  Best of luck in the rest of his career.

DM05 said...

What a waste of time, but thankfully the first of the SEALs is off the hook...Course the reputation warehouse is where? 

El Jefe said...

Awesome!  Hope the other 2 turn out with the same result.  Refusing mast was a brilliant move. 

ActusRhesus said...

No.  It does force their hand.  Once you refuse mast, you've essentially put your CO in a game of "chicken". Is it nice and fair? No.  But neither is life.  Dismiss the bullshit mast and you've sent a message that every person facing NJP can just get out of trouble by demanding a CM.  

No one ever said leadership was easy.

LT B said...

Yeah, I know, but Froggy was pissed about this and wrote about it saying this was pushed by SPECWAR careerists that then tried to hide behind the anger at the PC/Dem administration crowd.  I don't care who pushed it.  It was just lame and pathetic. 

LT B said...

Well, then the CO/CA should put on their big boy pants and say, hmmm, my SJA tells me we don't have a case.  Then drop it.  If he/she is getting bad advice from the SJA, that is your neck of the woods.  I watched an admiral ignore his SJA and take 13 MA's to admin sep, they were mostly all retained, and one (if I recall) sep'd due to another infraction.  He still tried to boot them after the admin sep.  It rolled to the next admiral who kept them in.  I bash lawyers a bit, but when they give good advice, listen to it.  No case that goes to SCM or GCM is bad for morale and maybe, just maybe, the Sailor IS innocent so ruining his/her career is another loss. 

Mary Alpha said...

Today, which is the 23rd, it was stated on the news that the terrorist acuser changed his story. NOW he says he was KICKED in the stomach and fell on his face. This whole thing needs to be dropped.

Bookworm said...

I was delighted when I read this news. I hope that it is a harbinger of things to come for the remaining SEALS.

Casey Tompkins said...

Crush over at Blackfive says Keefe was cleared today. Huzzah squared!

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Some men dare greatly, risk greatly and win big. As of tonight, two of them are Seal Petty Officers.  Let the court work.

ActusRhesus said...

I've got some more facts on this: This was pushed by Air Force and Army leadership at SOCCENT.  NOT Seal leadership.  I can't say I understand why they pushed it or what pressures they were facing.  Maybe there's a reason above my paygrade.  Maybe it was bullshit.  I don't know.

However, what IS bullshit is that the MG who served as convening authority denied a defense request to travel to Iraq for depositions of hte accuser, and refused to grant immunity to the defense's witnesses.

For anyone who's curious, here's the charges as drafted.  And yes, it was a mast refusal.

http://www.navy.mil/ChargeSheets.pdf

ActusRhesus said...

Again, though, there are times when there are other factors being considered and the pendulum swings both ways.  I'll give you an example of the opposite.  I once had to advise on a kiddie porn case. (note: this was possession only, no solicitation, no production, no physical harm to a minor) Obviously that's something we WANT prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  The forensic evidence I would need to prove the case would take some time to secure. The accused was an IT in a billet with lots of responsibilities on a high OP-tempo afloat command.  Obviously based on the allegation, he could not work in his rate until disposition.  The command could not replace him until he was officially out.  And they were about to get underway.

We administratively separated him with an OTH rather than take the time to court-martial.  Did it make us a little sick that he was getting no brig time and no sex offender registry? Absolutely, but the command could not meet their mission without an IT so operational necessity trumped individual case management.  Again, there are facts, considerations, and issues well above my paygrade.  It's easy for us, without the facts, to say leadership was afraid to make the "hard call"...but we don't know the motive.  There may have been a reason, there may not have been.  Maybe it was shit leadership, maybe it was a decision based on necessity and facts that we can't be aware of.

Not saying that was the case here...maybe it was just a pissed off air force and army groupie with some SEAL envy.

But without all the facts, I won't speculate as to the reasons why this happened.  I will however, be happy for the SEALs that justice was done.  And I am glad that the Army takes the blame on this one, not the SEAL community.