In­side the Ring

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security - Bill Gertz

must be ad­dressed to the com­mand re­spon­si­ble for the court­mar­tial,” he said.

On Dec. 7, as two of three SEALs were ar­raigned in a Nor­folk mil­i­tary court­room, the name Abed fi­nally was ut­tered by the gov­ern­ment.

Neal Puck­ett, at­tor­ney for Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, de­manded that the gov­ern­ment read the charges, which in­clude the de­tainee’s name.

Petty Of­fi­cer McCabe is ac­cused of punch­ing Abed in the gut and then ly­ing about it. Two SEAL ship­mates, Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe and Petty Of­fi­cer 1st Class Julio Huer­tas, are charged with giv­ing false state­ments.

The case has trig­gered out­rage by many pro-mil­i­tary ad­vo­cates. The Dec. 7 court ap­pear­ance at­tracted more than 100 peo­ple out­side the base to demon­strate in sup­port of the three. They waved Amer­i­can flags and held signs of sup­port, bring­ing horn honks from pass­ing cars.

Petty Of­fi­cer McCabe’s fa­ther, Marty McCabe of Las Ve­gas, ex­pressed dis­gust over the charges.

“It just turns my stom­ach to have th­ese peo­ple send him over there and put him in harm’s way, and then they don’t have his back when he gets home,” Mr. McCabe said, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ci­ated Press.

“He’s been a hero — two tours of Iraq and one tour of Afghanistan — and now this is the thanks he gets,” Petty Of­fi­cer Huer­tas’ civil­ian at­tor­ney, Mon­ica Lom­bardi, said.

J. Michael Waller, a spe­cial­ist on in­for­ma­tion war­fare at the In­sti­tute of World Pol­i­tics in Wash­ing­ton, said the charges against the SEALs are spu­ri­ous and ab­surd.

“Al Qaeda has stated in a train­ing man­ual, cap­tured by the Bri­tish, that its mem­bers, when cap­tured, should al­lege that they were tor­tured,” Mr. Waller said. “Al Qaeda rec­og­nizes the pro­pa­ganda value of such al­le­ga­tions as be­ing vi­tal to the suc­cess of its ter­ror­ist cam­paign.”

A fact sheet on the SEALs’ prose­cu­tion was made pub­lic by the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand and states that “SOCCENT’s in­ter­est then and now is to en­sure that the rule of law is fol­lowed and that our ju­di­cial process fol­lows its course.” The com­mand de­clined fur­ther com­ment, stat­ing that the case re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Dec. 4 fact sheet also states that the pris­oner’s name would not be made pub­lic be­cause of “the na­ture of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Mr. Waller said al Qaeda and other en­emy forces rely on overzeal­ous mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors to make their pro­pa­ganda for them and that pros­e­cut­ing the SEALs based on a ter­ror­ist’s claims “serves no just pur­poses.”

“All it does is un­wit­tingly aid and abet en­emy pro­pa­ganda,” he said. “This is not a My Lai mas­sacre or Abu Ghraib atroc­ity. It makes one won­der whether U.S. mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors are aware of how the en­emy re­lies on them to spread their pro­pa­ganda, and whether or not some of them even care.”

An FBI trans­la­tion of the al Qaeda man­ual was posted on the Jus­tice Depart­ment Web site, and the Pen­tagon pub­li­cized its con­tents in 2005. The trans­la­tion states that “the clos­ing chap­ter teaches al Qaeda op­er­a­tives how to op­er­ate in a prison or de­ten­tion cen­ter. It di­rects de­tainees to ‘in­sist on prov­ing that tor­ture was in­flicted’ and to ‘com­plain of mis­treat­ment while in prison.’ “

Mr. Waller said that “this ap­pears to be what is play­ing out here — a ter­ror­ist com­plained of mis­treat­ment, and overzeal­ous mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors ran with the ball and pros­e­cuted the SEALs.”

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