Tuesday, January 26, 2010

special operation to save endangered seals

Three Navy SEALs worked as part of a team that captured alleged terrorist mastermind Ahmed Hashim Abed.  A U.S. service member reported that one of the SEALs punched Abed in the stomach after Abed was secured in U.S. custody.  The SEALs allegedly attempted to cover up the alleged abuse and intimidate a witness.  Those three SEALs -- Julio Huertas, Jonathan Keefe, and Matthew McCabe -- are now facing court martial.[*]

SEALs are assigned the most dangerous, difficult jobs imaginable.  They are as close to superhuman as humans get.  If a SEAL makes a mistake, he may be killed, his unit mates may be killed, or innocent persons may be killed. Mistakes, unfortunately, happen.  If a SEAL punched a captive, that was a minor mistake. If SEALs fear serious punishment for such a mistake, that's a major organizational problem.  Putting individual SEALs on trial for a minor mistake and a major organizational problem is a gross injustice to those SEALs.

The Ode Street Tribune encourages everyone to mount a special operation to support those SEALs.  I've written to all three of my Congressional representatives -- Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Jim Webb, and Rep. Jim Moran.  While waiting for responses from these political leaders, the Ode Street Tribune's Command Central is reviewing other tactical possibilities.  Democracy depends on special forces.  Be your own special force of one.

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[*] Understanding the facts of the case isn't easy.  News reports don't even link to primary-source documents.  One such document is a letter from forty Congressmen to Major General Charles Cleveland, Commander of Special Operations Command Central.  The Congressmen requested that all charges against the SEALs be dropped.  Maj. Gen. Cleveland responded with a letter providing some details about the situation and assuring the Congressmen that the SEALs rights would be respected.  He did not agree to seek to have the charges against the SEALs dropped.  House Rep. Dan Burton responded to Maj. Gen. Cleveland's letter by again urging Maj. Gen. Cleveland to drop the charges against the SEALs.


Anonymous said...

There is no need to determine if these Navy Seals in fact did what they are accused of doing.
Congress should act without any further information so that these Navy Seals are saved.
This could be done by clearly authorizing the torture of those who oppose the US.
Individual conscience has no place when handling prisoners.
Military prisoners need not be treated as “human beings” created in the image of God.
If these Seals intimidated witnesses and covered up crimes,
it was no doubt necessary so that they could continue with their assignment.
Individual conscience has no place in a military organization that is trying to carry out an assignment.
Unfortunately, when these soldiers return to civilian life, they will encounter various people with whom they sometimes disagree.
Hopefully, their training will not influence how they deal with those with whom they differ.
May God have mercy on the soul of prisoners and on the soul of their tormentors.

Douglas Galbi said...

So far I've gotten a response only from Senator Webb. His letter seems to me a bit like a cut-and-paste form letter. But it does state: "I will continue to monitor this matter and remain vigilant to ensure our service members are treated fairly." I hope that Senator Webb does that. Here's the full text of the letter I received:

March 10, 2010

Mr. Douglas Galbi
1307 N Ode St Apt 435
Arlington , VA 22209-3449

Dear Mr. Galbi:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding pending charges against three Navy SEALs for the alleged mistreatment of an Iraqi detainee. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me.

The U.S. Central Command's component command for special operations confirmed that three Navy petty officers have been charged with a variety of infractions associated with the treatment of a detainee in Iraq earlier this year. Their court martial is scheduled for January 2010. The charges against them range from willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, assault, dereliction of duty, making false official statements, and impeding an investigation.

In matters relating to criminal accusations against service personnel, it is appropriate for the Department of Defense to investigate and convene a court martial when appropriate. Until such investigation and judicial proceeding are complete, it would not be appropriate for me to intervene. However, I will continue to monitor this matter and remain vigilant to ensure our service members are treated fairly.

As a former Department of Defense executive, the son of a career Air Force officer, the father of a Marine, and a Marine combat veteran myself, I understand the sacrifices that our service members and their families make every day. I have worked on military personnel issues throughout my life, and they continue to be one of my top priorities as a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and chairman of its Personnel Subcommittee.

As the Senate continues to address important issues facing the United States, please be assured that your views will be very helpful to me and my staff. I hope that you will continue to share them with us in the years ahead. I would also invite you to visit my website at webb.senate.gov for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.

Thank you once again for contacting my office.


Jim Webb
United States Senator

Douglas Galbi said...

On April 9, 2010, I received the following email from Sen. Warner:

Dear Mr. Galbi,

Thank you for writing me. I appreciate the benefit of your views on this important issue.

In the last year, Virginians have contacted my office over 850,000 times on a wide range of issues, including the economic recovery process, small business interests, health care reform, energy and climate change, and our national security. I appreciate hearing from you because understanding your views and those of other Virginians is fundamentally important to my work here in the Senate.

My office has received an unprecedented volume of correspondence in the past year. Please be assured that my staff and I are reading your comments and specific concerns. As always, if you need assistance resolving a specific problem with a federal agency, please contact my office toll free at 1-877-676-2759, or at 1-703-442-0670.

Over the last year, Congress has taken action to prevent collapse of the financial system. While more needs to be done to reduce unemployment, we have taken steps to strengthen and expand our economic recovery. In the year ahead, we will continue to work to create jobs, tackle the deficit, and address long-term federal spending.

I am honored to serve the Commonwealth as your Senator. As the 111th Congress moves forward, please continue to be touch with your views.

United States Senator


Not as good of a response as Sen. Webb's, it seems to me.