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Petition: Free the Navy SEALs

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 11, 2009 10:06 AM

Human Events has posted a petition to free the Navy SEALs who’ve been hauled up for courts martial after an infamous jihadi in Iraq (the same one who masterminded the ambush of Blackwater contractors whose bodies were burned and hung on a bridge in Fallujah) accused them of punching him in the stomach during a raid earlier this fall. You can sign here (petition text below). Members of Congress have called on Secretary Gates to intervene as well. Two of the SEALs were arraigned earlier this week and spoke out. Here’s an interview with Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe’s lawyer. Interviews and local coverage here. Excerpt:

Two Navy SEALs accused of mistreating an alleged terrorist denied the charges Monday — one during a formal arraignment and the other in more plain-spoken terms after the court proceeding.

“No — the answer’s no, point blank,” said Special Operator 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, as he met well-wishers outside Naval Station Norfolk.

McCabe is one of three Navy SEALs charged with mistreating Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of the March 2004 attack that killed four Blackwater employees. The SEALs have also been credited with his capture.

The grisly ambush created worldwide headlines as the bodies of the burned and mutilated victims were displayed for the press to photograph.

…Capt. Moira Modzelewski, who presided over the arraignment, set a Jan. 11 trial date for Huertas and Jan. 19 for McCabe.

The case has attracted widespread public attention. About 20 members of Congress have signed a letter circulated by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., calling on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to intervene.

It has also attracted grass-roots support from people like Richard Berndt, of Virginia Beach, who arrived at the naval base at 6 a.m. with a sign that read, “You Fought For Us — Now We Fight For You.”

“I just feel I owe these guys everything I can give them,” said the 24-year Navy veteran. “They just need our support.”

Donna Zovko, the mother of one of the four slain Blackwater employees, drove from Cleveland, Ohio, to stand with the supporters. In one emotional moment, she found herself next to Marty McCabe, the father of the accused Navy SEAL.

The two shared a few words before embracing.

Until the charges became public, Zovko had never known the names of the SEALs credited with Abed’s capture.

“It took me a few minutes to talk to her,” McCabe said later. “I kind of got choked up. This is closure for her.”

IBD also has an editorial today calling for the SEALS to be freed. Amen to their conclusion: “McCabe is…officially charged with punching Abed ‘in the midsection with his fist’ while in custody. It is the American people who are being sucker-punched in the gut.”

Sign the petition (commenters say they are getting timeouts from overload – keep trying!):

Hon. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Gates:

We, the editors and staff of HUMAN EVENTS, and the many Americans who have attached their signatures to this petition, hereby request your personal intervention to dismiss the charges against Navy SEAL operators SO2 Jonathan Keefe, SO1 Julio Huertas and SO2 Matthew McCabe.

These three men are charged with abusing a terrorist they captured in a daring nighttime raid on or about 1 September 2009. On that night, they — as part of a platoon from SEAL Team 10 — captured and detained Ahmed Hashim Abed, one of the most barbaric and dangerous terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist — in a move that is literally right out of the al-Queda training manual — complained of abuse, apparently alleging he was struck in the stomach.

We had hoped that the SEALs’ commanders would dispose of this matter at the lowest level — with a scolding and perhaps a few hundred pushups — for anyone actually guilty of inflicting an inconvenience on this bloody-handed barbarian. But on 29 September 2009, Gen. David H. Petraeus signed a letter authorizing MGen. Charles T. Cleveland to dispose of the allegations of misconduct. In that letter, Gen. Petraeus said that MGen. Cleveland could, “…dispose of these matters in any manner you deem appropriate. This includes the authority to convene courts-martial at any level up to and including General Courts-Martial and to refer charges concerning these individuals to any court-martial.”

The three now face special courts-martial next month. We believe their commanders — including General Petraeus — have failed you, the SEALs and the American people by not preventing the matter from going this far.

You are the person next in line above General Petraeus in the chain of command. You can, legally under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, intervene to dismiss the charges against the three SEALs and direct that they be restored to duty.

We respectfully request that you do so forthwith. For this matter to continue — and to place the honor and fighting future of these three men at stake — is manifestly a gross injustice.

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