Trump Pardons

Donald Trump has pardoned Michael Behanna, a former Army Lt. in Iraq from Oklahoma, who in 2009 was convicted by a military court of killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, an Iraqi citizen he suspected of being an al Qaida terrorist. Behanna was sentenced to 25 years but released on parole in 2014.

The story of his case is here.

Behanna comes from an influential, politically connected family in Oklahoma: [More...]

Behenna's family has worked vigorously on his behalf — and they are well-positioned to do so, with deep ties to law enforcement and the legal system. His father, Scott Behenna, has worked for both the FBI and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. His mother, Vicki Behenna, is an attorney and former longtime federal prosecutor in Oklahoma City who has led the charge to help her son — first to win parole and then to gain a presidential pardon.

Behenna, without authorization and in violation of military rules, took a civilian to the desert, had him stripped, and interrogated him. In my world that's called vigilante justice. Vigilante justice is no justice at all.

If anyone was in fear for his life and needed to act in self-defense, it was Mansur, not Behenna. Another typical Trump pardon in my view.

Why is this hitting the news today? To distract us from Trump's directing his former counsel McGahn, AG Barr and others to refuse to testify in front of Congress. Deflection is the name of Trump's game.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Behanna mounted an effective defense (2.00 / 1) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 07, 2019 at 01:14:24 PM EST
    against the charges, I would usually expect that to be supported on this site.

    I would not characteize (none / 0) (#5)
    by KeysDan on Tue May 07, 2019 at 03:51:42 PM EST
    the defense as being "effective", since it was not successful (guilty with a 25-year sentence).  However, the best possible defense seems to have been given to Lt. Behanna given the circumstances (acute stress disorder and self-defense). And, Behanna benefited from some missteps by the prosecution.

    The circumstances of the murder of the Iraqi, Ali Mansur Mohamed, were searing.  After US intelligence officers did not obtain, after two interrogations, sufficient evidence regarding the suspect's involvement in the lethal roadside bombing of his platoon, Mansur was released in accord with the "catch and release" policy of that time.  In an ill-fated tasking, Lt. Behanna was to return Mansur to his home.

    Rather than following these orders, Lt. Behanna made a detour. Sergeant Warner, of his platoon, took a grenade from his pocket, pulled the safety ring and put it under Mansur's head, cut off and hid all his clothes save for his sandals, and interrogated him at the point of a gun. Mansur sustained two lethal wounds. The next day, villagers found Mansur's naked, burned body in the culvert. Lt. Behanna claimed self-defense in that Mansur stood up from his sitting position and tried to attack him.

    The prosecution presented two principle witnesses: the interpreter, called Harry, who was present at the culvert interrogation and Sgt. Warner, who accepted a plea deal in return for his testimony.  Two other US soldiers from the same battalion testified against Behanna.

    The initial premediated murder charge was changed to un-premediated murder.  Behanna was found guilty of killing the unarmed, naked Iraqi and sentenced to 25 years. An appeal panel, 3 to 2, sustained the verdict, finding that Behanna was the initial aggressor and gave up his right of self-defense. Moreover, the defense did not show that Mansur escalated the situation.

     The panel dissenters held that Behanna was not charged with disobeying orders and that the interrogation was not forceful.

    A contested aspect of the case was the charge by the defense that Brady material was not disclosed. A forensic expert, engaged by the prosecution, agreed with the defense's sequence of events (Mansur was standing not sitting when shot).  This information was not provided to the defense by the prosecution nor did the expert witness testify.

    The expert witness notified the defense of corroborating analysis.  A request for a mis/retrial was denied, on the basis that that information was not material to the findings.

    The 25-year sentence was reduced to 20-years, and, again, to 15-years. Behanna was paroled in 2014 after serving about five years, with probation running until 2024. The Trump pardon ends the continuing parole.

    A tragic story all the way around, starting with the Bush/Cheney debacle. Lt. Behanna, 24-years old at the time, was probably in a mental state that dictated his removal from leadership.  And, worse, is the possible idea that the Iraqi was less than human, anyhow.  No excuses for Behanna, but maybe an explanation.  The reduction/ commutation of sentence/early end of parole would be reasonable, but it seems, to me, not to merit the full clemency granted.


    OK I would expect effective lawyering (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 07, 2019 at 04:08:54 PM EST
    on behalf of an accused would get more support by J.

    The FBI director (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 01:06:23 PM EST
    Also said some thing they probably want to preempt

    His days are probably numbered. (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 01:09:18 PM EST
    The FBI is probably as close to an independent organization as we have left.

    FBI chief Wray refutes Barr, says no 'spying' on Trump campaign


    From the article Jeralyn linked to (none / 0) (#7)
    by McBain on Tue May 07, 2019 at 05:39:55 PM EST
    and here as well...

    During the trial, an expert witness hired by the prosecution told the Army lawyers that, based on his forensic analysis, he agreed with the sequence of events presented by the defense. But the expert did not testify at trial, nor was his view provided to the defense as part of the prosecution's obligations to disclose favorable evidence.  However, the expert contacted the defense to let them know that he agreed with Behenna's version of events, prompting the defense lawyers to move for a mistrial.

    I wonder how often that happens?

    Tax returns from 1985-1994 (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Tue May 07, 2019 at 08:25:37 PM EST
    Interesting, but not what the House has ordered IRS to turn over.

    Then there is this (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 08:33:35 PM EST
    New York push to reveal Trump's state tax returns expected to pass state senate, spokesperson says

    Democratic efforts in New York state to enable the release of President Donald Trump's state tax returns are expected to pass the state Senate Wednesday, according to Senate leadership.

    One DC pundit and one DC journalist (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 09:36:24 PM EST
    On Twitter tweeted something is in the air tonight in DC. I went outside. Air seems the same lol. Now Lawrence Tribe tweeted the tide is turning.

    Oh...now AG (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 09:38:46 PM EST
    Threatening to assert executive privilege.  

    Feels like (none / 0) (#22)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 07, 2019 at 10:02:59 PM EST
    It's turning

    Providing a different financial picture (none / 0) (#16)
    by Peter G on Tue May 07, 2019 at 08:28:14 PM EST
    when applying for a loan, from that presented to the IRS when filing tax returns, is a classic basis for criminal prosecution for bank fraud. I have quite a number of clients who learned that the hard way.

    How far (none / 0) (#17)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 07, 2019 at 08:31:59 PM EST
    can they go back on that kind of behavior? No wonder Trump is freaking out about Deutsche Bank. He probably gave them fraudulent information to obtain loans.

    Six-year statute of limitations (none / 0) (#19)
    by Peter G on Tue May 07, 2019 at 09:04:25 PM EST
    for criminal tax fraud, none for civil tax fraud (i.e., audit and collection). Ten-year statute of limitations for criminal bank fraud.

    Just Ask Paul Manafort (none / 0) (#23)
    by ScottW714 on Wed May 08, 2019 at 02:05:54 PM EST
    Paul Manafort was hit with yet another indictment on Wednesday, just minutes after the former Trump campaign chairman received his second prison sentence in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    The latest indictment, which came from a grand jury in New York City, charges Manafort with 16 counts of mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and other crimes in connection with loans he sought or obtained on properties owned by him and his family.