Once again, it appears the military has brought a meritless case against our troops, accusing them of wrongdoing on very flimsy evidence :
The military has canceled the deposition of an alleged terrorist mastermind who claimed that he was assaulted by the military following his capture last year. The law firm Puckett and Faraj, representing Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe, made the announcement on Sunday.
Major General Charles Cleveland, the convening authority for the upcoming special courts-martial for three of the Navy SEALs involved in the operation, has decided to cancel the trip to Iraq to depose Ahmed Hashim Abed. Since the SEALs have a Constitutional right to confront their accuser in court, the alleged terrorist's statements won't be used as evidence for the case.
Abed, who is still in U.S. custody, is believed to be the al Qaeda mastermind behind the 2004 Fallujah ambush where four U.S. private security contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated. According to court documents, he claimed that he received what amounted to a punch in the stomach while in U.S. custody.
The prosecution's case against the SEALs appears weak. For instance al Qaeda's training manual states that once captured, members should claim torture and abuse. In addition Abed was initially detained at an Iraqi facility, which presents a chain of custody issue. Complicating matters further, the military has not released any corroborating evidence, such as medical records or photographs, and the sailor who claimed to witness the incident has given five conflicting statements. Also, the SEALs were initially offered an Article 15 hearing, which carries relatively light non-judicial punishment. Instead, the sailors requested trial by courts-martial, which allows all evidence to be considered, but carries much heavier punishment - including incarceration.
After Haditha, one would think the military would shy away from bringing courts martial in high profile cases based on no good evidence, but one would be wrong. It looks to me like "winning hearts and minds" by bringing warrantless cases against our troops remains the policy track of choice if the case has engendered enough media attention..