Military courts backtracked over now-pardoned ex-soldier

Thursday, May 9, 2019
 | 
Chad Groening (OneNewsNow.com)

Michael Behemma (pardoned by Trump)A national defense analyst says he understands why a former U.S. Army officer, convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner, has been pardoned by President Donald Trump.

The White House announced this week that President Trump pardoned Michael Behemma, a former U.S. Army first lieutenant convicted in 2009 of killing a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq.  

Behemma questioned prisoner Ali Mansur at gunpoint after a roadside bomb killed two members of Behemma’s platoon. The soldier later claimed Mansur threw a chunk of concrete at him and reached for his gun, but Army prosecutors discounted that claim.  

A military court originally sentenced Behemma to 25 years for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone but he benefitted greatly from scrutiny of the prosecution. The Army's highest appellate court noted concern over how the trial court handled Behenna's claim of self-defense, so the Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him in 2014, as soon as he was eligible, Fox News reported.

Maginnis

According to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, the former soldier received broad support from the military, including more than three dozen generals and admirals.

Bob Maginnis, a senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, says there is “considerable ambiguity” over the murder charge.

“So I think that speaks loudly,” Maginnis, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, tells OneNewsNow.

Asked if Obama-era politics was involved, Maginnis agrees the prosecution could have been politically motivated but he also cites court evidence that led to a charge of premeditated murder.  

“I tend to go with courts martials but I understand the politics of this,” he says. “And so I can understand why the president went along with it."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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