Articles Tagged with SEAL

The trial for the Navy SEAL accused of punching an alleged al-Qaida terrorist while in U.S. custody in Iraq has been postponed until May 3, but the trial will remain in Norfolk.image

Capt. Moira Modzelewski granted government prosecutors the continuance on the grounds that most of the evidence in the case is still undergoing a classification review and has yet to be seen by either the prosecution or the defense.

Navy Times reports.

A military judge has decided to move the trial for one of three Navy SEALs accused in connection with the alleged assault of a suspected terrorist to Iraq.

Cmdr. Tierney Carlos, the trial judge for the court-martial of Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class (SEAL) Jonathan Elliot Keefe, has agreed with defense motions to move the April 6 trial to Camp Victory in Iraq so Keefe can face the alleged victim, Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the government sought to depose in lieu of a trial appearance.

“If he is available for a deposition, then he is available for trial,” Carlos said.

Navy prosecutors have asked a judge to delay the trials of two SEALs accused in connection with the alleged assault of a reported al-Qaida terrorist — apparently because of evidence issues.

Navy Times reports.

If as is indicated there are classified document issues, then it is clear this trial will take time to complete.  Having participated in many classified trials, with one ongoing, over the years I would say that it will take several months to resolve the issues.  Each of the counsel may well have to get security clearances established.  The time to get clearances will be a function of the classification levels involved.  And then there may be Mil. R. Evid. 505 issues.

Dear Representative Burton,

Thank you for your letter expressing your and your colleagues concern regarding the pending Courts-martial of Petty Officers Huertas, McCabe, and Keefe. I understand your interest in these cases and can assure you that I am committed to protecting the rights of the Sailors who have been accused.

Regrettably it appears that your perception of the incident is based upon incomplete and factually inaccurate press coverage. Despite what has been reported, these allegations are not founded solely on the word of the detainee, but rather, were initially raised by other U.S. service members. Additionally, the alleged injuries did not occur during actions on the objective, as is also being widely reported in the media. A medical examination conducted at the time the detainee was turned over to U.S. forces determined that his alleged injuries were inflicted several hours after the operation had ended, and while in the custody and care of the U.S. at Camp Schweidler’s detainee holding facility.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland has responded to a letter that challenges the handling of a case against three Navy SEALs accused of mishandling a suspected terrorist.
In the Dec. 15 letter, addressed to Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Cleveland essentially refuses to drop the charges against the three men.

"While the assault and resulting injury to the detainee were relatively minor, the more disconcerting allegations are those related to the sailor’s attempts to cover-up the incident," said Cleveland, who writes that this appears to be an attempt to influence the testimony of a witness.

Cleveland writes that the "alleged allegations are not founded solely on the word of the detainee, but rather, were initially raised by other U.S. service members."

The White House will not weigh in on the case of the three Navy SEALs facing court martial for allegedly mistreating an Iraqi terror suspect believed to have been behind the slaying of four Americans in 2004. reports.

We already have too much litigation by media, and by Congress in courts-martials and other UCMJ actions.  The politicizing of military justice doesn’t serve military justice.

The third SEAL accused in the assault of an alleged al-Qaida terrorist pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of dereliction of duty and making a false official statement in a military court on Norfolk Naval Base.

Trial by court-martial is set for 6 April 2010, Navy Times reports.  The other two SEAL’s alleged to be involved with violating the UCMJ have each plead not guilty and have trial dates set.

For some years now, primarily relating to Iraq/Afghanistan cases there has been lots of litigation by media and congress.  The current move to save the SEALs by congress is just the most recent example of seeking to influence a court-martial case.  The “litigation” has been both for and against the military member.  We all remember the issue of Congressman Murtha calling for prosecution of a Marine for alleged misconduct.  Whether such litigation is good for the system and the UCMJ is a different question.  In this day and age of millisecond journalism and sound-bites here are a couple of thoughts and a caution.  LawProf blog has posted:

Laurie L. Levenson (Loyola Law School Los Angeles) has posted Prosecutorial Soundbites: When Do They Cross the Line? (Georgia Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Even good prosecutors can cross the line with media soundbites. Especially in high-profile cases, prosecutors must assess if their pretrial remarks about a case meet their ethical obligations. In Gentile v. Nevada State Bar, 501 U.S. 1030 (1991), the United States Supreme Court held that while lawyers have the First Amendment right to make comments to the press, they do not have the right to make comments that have a “substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding.” Although ethical codes have adopted this broad standard, many have failed to identify more specifically when a prosecutor’s remarks pose a substantial likelihood of having such a prejudicial effect. Using 28 C.F.R. § 50.2 as a guide, this article seeks to identify those “hot-button” areas.

I found this piece by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism of passing interest.  The lead blog story for a while is the SEAL case and the pending court-martial.  I find it surprising in light of the ongoing events regarding Major Hasan at Fort Hood. 

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