Allen West, parents of soldier imprisoned for killing al-Qaida operative lobby for reduced sentence

After a bizarre campaign season detour into Big Bird and bayonets and binders, the president is again talking at last about America’s war on terrorism. “After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home,” President Obama announced early in his State of the Union address. The plight of one soldier who won’t be coming home any time soon has captured the attention of former Rep. Allen West and others, who hope to reduce his 15-year sentence to time served.

The Army Times reports that 1st Lt. Michael Behenna is approaching four years in military prison over the shooting death of Ali Mansur, and al-Qaida operative and Iraqi prisoner, in 2008. Behenna’s attorneys argued that Behanna fired two shots when Mansur lunged for his gun; prosecutors said Behenna shot him execution-style during an interrogation about a roadside bombing that killed two men under Behenna’s command.

Behenna’s attorneys and family are now petitioning the Supreme Court to hear his case but admit that the possibility is unlikely. Behenna’s parents, Scott and Vicki Behenna, on Thursday posted an update on the case.

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.

In the meantime, a website and social media campaign are keeping Behenna’s case alive.

Here’s video of West advocating on behalf of Behenna in 2010.

Editor’s note: This post incorrectly referred to Allen West as a former senator. We regret the error.

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