Okay, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but it is something I might have done when I was a platoon leader or company commander in combat and had just lost some men. Army 1LT Michael Behenna decided to interrogate a naked detainee who he felt had knowledge about the IEDs that had recently killed two of his men. The guy then threw a piece of concrete at the LT and dove for his gun. Behenna shot and killed him; sounds like self defense to me.
He was tried and found guilty of unpremeditated murder of the detainee and al-Qaeda-operative, Ali Mansur. He appealed. By a 3-2 vote, the military’s highest appeals court upheld the conviction. One of the things they considered was if Behenna had the “right to act in self-defense.” The court decided that because he was conducting an unauthorized interrogation of the naked detainee he was the initial aggressor and therefore had no right to self defense.
Or, as they wrote: “Even assuming for a moment that Mansur could have escalated the level of force, we conclude that a naked and unarmed individual in the desert does not escalate the level of force when he throws a piece of concrete at the initial aggressor in full battle attire, armed with a loaded pistol, and lunges for his pistol.”
Did the court think that the right response would have been to let the guy hit him on the head and take his pistol? This is insane, and I fear it’s the fruit of the political correctness that is dominating our entire federal government, including and especially the Pentagon.
I interviewed former SEAL Marcus Latrell when his first book came out about 5 years ago. His 4 man-team was sneaking in enemy territory when they were discovered by 3 goatherds. The SEALs fully expected the goatherds to tell the terrorists about them and debated killing them; they decided not to kill them. As a result, all of Marcus’ team-mates were killed, he was wounded, and a helicopter of SEALs coming to their relief were shot out of the sky and killed. So they weren’t innocents and should have been killed. In combat leaders have to make choices that aren’t pretty or look good in debate, but war is war. This Army LT was doing what he thought was his job. Now he’s going to jail for 12 years. I regret to say that I have lost faith in the US Military Justice system.