Last week we traveled to Washington DC to present Michael’s case before the Army Clemency and Parole Board. Michael’s younger brother Brett, two years out of law school and a county prosecutor in Oklahoma, made the main presentation to the Board.
Brett opened his presentation with a video of the latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor Dakota Meyer receiving his medal. He pointed out that Dakota disobeyed four direct orders to stay at his post while his platoon was in a firefight in a nearby Afghan village. But as Dakota Meyer would later explain, one has to be guided by principle and that more important than following orders is your brotherhood. Brett told the Board that both Dakota and Michael violated orders, but both men did so to protect their fellow soldiers. No one knows the outcome of a decision they make, but when Soldiers/Marines are guided by the principle of protecting their troops, the outcome of a decision should not determine if one will be praised as a hero and the other branded a criminal.
Brett told the Board that the four years Michael had already spent in prison was enough given the facts of the case: 1) Ali Mansur was a member of an Al Qaida cell, known to be involved in planting roadside IED’s, 2) that Michael did not kill Mansur out of anger or hatred, but because Mansur lunged for his gun, and 3) that the reason Michael was interrogating Mansur in the first place was he wanted to prevent another IED attack on his men by questioning the very person he believed was responsible for an IED attack that killed two of his soldiers. Brett then walked the Board through the tenants of corrections (Incapacitation, Rehabilitation, Deterrence, and Retribution or Punishment) and stated that Michael had satisfied each of these tenants and that neither society, the Army nor Michael would benefit from further incarceration. He asked the Board to commute the rest of Michael’s sentence to time served.
The Parole Board, which was comprised of Colonel’s and civilians, was very complimentary of Brett’s presentation. One Board member even commented that ‘he had done his brother proud.’ He most certainly made his parents proud! Amazingly the Board also told Brett to thank Michael for his service to his country and how he had conducted himself over these last four difficult years in prison. That thank you was a first in four years of fighting for Michael’s freedom in the military justice system.
Here is a link to a video interview Brett did after leaving the hearing. It is worth watching and only takes a minute to load:
Also, here is a copy of a letter from the entire Oklahoma Congressional Delegation in support of Michael:
And finally, here is a copy of a news article about the Clemency Hearing:
We should get an answer from the Parole Board in the next two weeks so please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers. As always, thank you for all your support of a young man we are proud to call our son.
Scott & Vicki Behenna
Proud parents of 1LT Michael Behenna