Posts Tagged ‘Allan West’

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

As we approach the blessed season of Christmas there is so much to celebrate and to be thankful for. Michael was released over nine months ago and he enjoys his freedom in ways that you and I most likely take for granted. The freedom to behold the beauty of wide open spaces, of sunrises and sunsets, quiet drives along the backroads of Oklahoma, listening to the restless sound of the autumn wind, or just sitting quietly on his porch as deer and wild turkey cross his front yard in the country. It is a peaceful life for a man at peace with himself.

Michael’s work, although physically taxing, gives him a great sense of accomplishment and purpose. Cattle ranching certainly seems to fit him well and the cows don’t ask many questions ….unless they are hungry. He enjoys the hard work and the long days. Most nights he is asleep before his head hits his pillow, with his dog Bo snoring right beside him. We truly believe that his new life was made possible by the support and prayers that each of you provided for Michael during his difficult time in prison.

While Michael is free to enjoy his life there is still much to be done. I am speaking of several other Soldiers who remain incarcerated in Leavenworth under similar circumstances as Michael. They too need to be lifted up and told they are meaningful and not forgotten. These Soldiers are part of what we call the “Leavenworth 10” and were also convicted of murder in war zones. Their alleged crimes were not massacres, but rather an instantaneous reaction to a threat against them or their Warrior Brothers. None of them had criminal records prior to their single military incident and we personally vouch that they are definitely not a threat to anyone. A few have been paroled, but several remain in prison with long sentences. You can read about their individual stories at www.L10freedomride.com. A simple letter or a few dollars to their canteen accounts will go a long way to showing them that Americans still care about them. In this time of giving, please consider them a worthy cause for your prayers and support.

We sincerely hope that you are filled with joy and gratitude this holiday season and surrounded by all those you hold dear.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Life After Prison

Friday, July 18th, 2014

A little over three months has passed since Michael walked out of the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Although not totally free, as he is required to report to a Federal Parole Officer on a regular basis, Michael is living his life on his own terms. He works on a large ranch in northern Oklahoma and is learning the every day trials and tribulations of being a rancher / farmer. Michael finds great peace in rising early and putting in a hard day of work in the hot sun. Then each night he makes himself supper before sitting outside on his patio to watch the deer and wild turkey cross the road near his home. It is a good life.

Work is not the only thing Michael has been up to. In May he traveled to the Florida Keys with our family and some awesome friends to enjoy several days of fishing, eating and catching up with everyone’s lives. In late June Michael became an uncle as his brother Brett and his wife Kirby welcomed a beautiful baby girl named Lily into the world. And in July Michael traveled to Zion National Park in southwest Utah with Shannon and her Dad and sister where they hiked Angel’s Landing. It was a trip they had talked about for five years in the visitation room at Leavenworth and finally were able to experience it together.

Since he has been out Michael has promoted the cause of the other Leavenworth 10 soldiers who are still incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth. These warriors, who found themselves in similar circumstances of war as Michael was, have been imprisoned for far too long. The war in Iraq has been over for several years, the conflict in Afghanistan is winding down, and the US government continues to release the enemy who killed countless citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan and scores of US and Coalition forces. It is past time that the Army gave these Leavenworth 10 Soldiers, who fought so bravely for this country in multiple tours of combat, their own freedom so they can be reunited with their families.

Here is a link to an article and audio of Sean Hannity’s radio show where Michael spoke of these remaining Soldiers in Leavenworth.
http://www.hannity.com/articles/news-476261/the-politically-correct-imprisonment-of-us-12546813

Also, please review the attached link for the L10 and consider writing them a letter to let them know they have not been forgotten.
http://www.l10freedomride.com/

Bless all of you for your love and support of our son and his chosen brothers who remain behind bars!

Parole Granted: Michael Is Coming Home!

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

With tears of joy in our eyes we are happy to tell all of you that Michael is coming home!  He called us this morning to tell us his parole had been granted and he will be released on March 14, 2014.  So in one month Michael will finally be home with his family.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow…..

It has been, to say the least, quite a ride.  Michael signed up for the Army in order to serve his country and honor the innocent people killed on 9/11.  As a lieutenant he led his men in the ‘Mad Dog’ 5th Platoon into combat in Iraq and with them bravely faced a determined and ruthless insurgency.  Then his story took a bizarre turn when he was charged and later convicted of killing a known Al-Qaida cell leader who was directly involved in an IED attack that killed two of his soldiers, Steven Christofferson and Adam Kohlhaas.  He spent the next five years of his life in a small cell in the medium security wing at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth serving a 15 year murder conviction.

Life is often not fair, and as we have seen, justice is sometimes hard to come by.  For the innocent man who is sent to prison, life can seem especially cruel.  To survive that requires strength that comes from deep inside.  It also requires the love and support from family and close friends.  Michael always knew he could count on his family and friends to be there for him.  What has rocked his world is how thousands of people he has never met could will him through this struggle.  YOU DID THAT!  As you’re reading this I want you to say to yourself ‘they’re talking to me’.  YOU made the difference in how our son responded to this adversity.  Whether you sent him a postcard, a letter, put money in his prison account, contributed to his defense fund, wrote your Congressional Representative, shared Michael’s story with a friend, rode your motorcycle in a rally of support, or lifted Michael up in prayer to Almighty God, you made the difference.  YOU literally saved our son’s life with your love and support, and for that we will be forever grateful.

God bless each and every one of you!

First Parole Hearing is January 9th

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

This time of year is very difficult for Michael and our family, but we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who took the time and effort to write to Michael or financially contributed to his prison account.  Your response to him was overwhelming and provided a much needed boost to his morale. We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and prayers which sustain our son more than you will ever know.  He can’t physically respond to all the many letters and cards he receives, but he wanted to make sure we conveyed his heartfelt appreciation for your steadfast support.

Here is an excerpt from an earlier letter which Michael had us share with you a few summers ago and the words are as true now as they were when he wrote them:

“Each day I strive to not focus on the bad, but to find the good. I immerse myself in books that take me a thousand miles from this place of concrete and steel.  I push forward in my quest of self-discovery and self-observation seeking wisdom to call my own.  From the small window in my prison cell I can see a cornfield where a farmer toils in the hot summer air and I find myself longing to walk that field and feel the earth beneath my feet and the sun against my face. My hopes are to someday have my own land upon which I will raise cattle and spend all my waking hours in that warm sun upon my horse whose name only I will know.  

Gratitude is not something one would expect to find behind these walls, but it is here where I found it…waiting to teach me what really matters in this life. And while I sleep she gently reminds me how truly blessed my life is.“

Michael’s 1st Parole Hearing has been set for January 9th, 2014, and we hope it will be his last. We will represent Michael before the Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington DC, and we should hear the results within two weeks of the Hearing.  Please say a prayer for the Board’s discernment and courage to examine Michael’s case with an open heart and mind about what a Soldier faces in battle. We know Michael is not a threat to society and will be a productive American citizen who will always hold his head high.

We wish you all a blessed 2014 and God willing it will be the year we will finally welcome Michael home.

Michael’s First Parole Hearing

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

A retired Army colonel recently told us that there are three things that will change a person’s soul:  war, prison, and the desert.  These are all things that Michael has experienced in the past five years.  As for the state of Michael’s soul we would say emphatically that it is at peace.  In fact that is what Michael told the reviewers at his first Parole Hearing at the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Leavenworth on October 22nd.  Without qualification he has no bitterness or enmity towards anyone for the unimaginable path he has traveled.  Instead he continues to read, study, and improve himself as he looks forward to a future beyond prison walls. The USDB Board Michael met with will make a recommendation to the full Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington DC.  Hopefully, we will be scheduled to represent Michael before the full Parole Board some time in December.   We will know two weeks after the full Board Hearing as to whether Michael will receive Parole.

The holidays are fast approaching.  For most of us that means the hustle and bustle of busy malls, Christmas music, and time with family and friends.  But for those like Michael who ‘celebrate’ the holidays behind iron bars there is a dark and heavy cloud of loneliness that is difficult to fathom.  Amid the smiles and laughter inside the packed visitation room at Leavenworth there remains an unspoken sadness; the cruel knowledge that when the clock strikes 4pm families will exit out one door into the fresh air of freedom and the inmates will exit out another door that takes them back to an unnatural place, devoid of so much of what we consider human.  One door represents life, the other door represents death.

Like life and death, grief and gratitude are blood brothers.  One cannot have one without the other.  It is almost always the experience of grieving what has been lost that makes us aware of how much we have to be grateful for.  So on this coming Thanksgiving day, as our family sits between those two doors in the crowded visitation room at Leavenworth, our hearts will be filled with gratitude for the blessing of sharing time with those we love most on this earth.  We will know that our time is short, but it is that very knowledge that will help us appreciate it even more.

Our gratitude extends to all of you who have supported our son and our family on this journey.  May you each have a wonderful Thanksgiving that is filled with a grateful heart and time spent with those you love.

Peace be with you all,

Scott & Vicki Behenna

 

P.S.  Please consider sending Michael a card, a letter, or even a money order (for snacks and phone calls) during this upcoming holiday season.  We promise you it will make Michael’s day!  Michael’s address is:

Michael Behenna  87503

1300 N. Warehouse Road

Ft. Leavenworth, KS   66027-2304

VFW Resolution for Michael!

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

On July 4th we celebrated the many freedoms that all of us enjoy because of the sacrifices of millions of brave men and women in uniform since the founding of our nation.  Of course July 4th was not a day of freedom for Michael or the other Leavenworth 10 who remain in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth.  For them it was a painful reminder that the freedom they fought for on our behalf is no longer theirs to enjoy.

The end of the legal struggle after the Supreme Court denied Michael’s petition for certiorari just causes us to turn up the heat in the political battle to convince those in power that there is no acceptable reason to keep Michael incarcerated.  In that light, James Wainscoat, a decorated veteran and strong supporter of Michael, has stepped up and helped his South Dakota State Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter to pass a Resolution that calls for Michael to be freed. This Resolution will be put before the National VFW Conference which begins July 20th in Louisville, KY.  Although this was a huge step forward, this Resolution has no chance of gaining the support of the National VFW Conference unless many more VFW Chapters rally their delegates to support the Resolution.  To this end we absolutely need your help NOW!!!

We ask each of you to contact your local VFW officers or State VFW delegates to voice their approval for this Resolution without delay.  It is important that the National VFW committee handling resolutions know that the plea for Michael’s freedom be heard by the full convention and voted on – not killed in committee.  Mr. Wainscoat said he felt that the VFW, which is the only veteran’s group recognized by a Congressional Mandate, has such a powerful voice with Congress and the Administration that a resolution by them could turn the tide in Michael’s favor.  Thus it is imperative that we have the support of as many States VFW Chapters as soon as possible.

The veterans of this country have always been committed to never leaving any of their troops behind. Through the powerful influence of the VFW, whose members have bravely fought for the freedoms we too often take for granted, we will hopefully find a way to bring at least one more Soldier home. Thank you for this important first political step towards Michael’s release.  Please feel free to pass this on to your military connections.

Here is the Resolution:

Resolution No #1

RELEASE OF 1st Lt. MICHAEL BEHENNA

Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was charged at an Article 32 hearing of Premeditated Murder of a known, capture or kill Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur while in custody during a field interrogation; and

Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna was ordered to return known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur to the Operational area (AO) and release him in accordance with the “Catch & Release” program of suspects, not having enough evidence to continue to hold them in custody for prosecution; and

Whereas, 1st Lt. Behenna took the known Al Qaeda operative back to the AO in handcuffs. Once inside the AO, he removed the handcuffs, stripped the suspect, and began to question the known Al Qaeda operative at gunpoint (in order to maintain control) as to his knowledge of the recent IED attack that had cost 1st Lt. Behenna the lives of two of his men, and two more seriously wounded; and

Whereas, according to 1st Lt. Behenna, Al Mansur lunged at the lieutenant; whereupon the lieutenant fired two control shots, killing the known Al Qaeda operative Ali Mansur; and

Whereas, the Army claimed 1st Lt. Behenna lost his right to self-defense as a result of pointing a firearm at the suspect for control, having removed the handcuffs from the suspect. Also in question was whether the suspect was executed in a sitting position or was attempting to disarm the Lieutenant, and cause bodily harm to 1st Lt. Behenna and others; and

Whereas, the dispute and credibility factor surrounded the fact of whether the known Al Qaeda operative was in a defenseless sitting position or in an aggressive attack mode? The dispute came down to the unwavering statement of 1st Lt. Behenna, and that of the Iraqi interpreter who because of the darkness and distance from the culvert could not provide a definitive statement as to what happened at the moment of the shooting; and

Whereas, the prosecution sent home their expert forensic witness whose testimony would have proven to be exculpatory evidence of self-defense on the part of 1st Lt. Behenna; and

Whereas, lacking the exculpatory evidence of the prosecutions forensic expert on blood splatters and bullet trajectory; 1st Lt. Behenna was denied a fair trial, up to and including the request for a writ of Certiorari from the Supreme Court; the final attempt at his Constitutional right to Due Process; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States that we support 1st Lt. Behenna and because he was convicted under such questionable circumstances of an alleged crime in a fast-moving and fluid combat zone against a member of the most feared enemy in the world, and has spent over four years in solitary confinement at Leavenworth Military Prison; we desire that 1st Lt. Behenna be released from prison immediately to attempt to pick up the pieces of his life.

Submitted by Department of South Dakota

To the National VFW Committee on NATIONAL SECURITY & FOREIGN AFFAIRS The intent of this resolution is: To obtain the release of 1st Lt. Behenna, in order for him to establish his new life after his military career was terminated.

WWII Veteran Demands Freedom for Michael

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

WWII Veteran Demands Freedom for Michael

Self-Defense In War: The Story of Michael Behenna and Mad Dog 5

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

The Story of Michael Behenna and Mad Dog 5:  “Self-defense” In War (Supreme Court Blog)

A letter asking for your help!

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

 

To the thousands of Michael supporters,

My name is David Wahl.  I am the father of Michael Behenna’s girlfriend Shannon Wahl and run the DefendMichael.com website.  I have known Michael for several years going back to when Michael and Shannon first started dating.  I attended Michael’s officer school graduation at Fort Benning, his Ranger school graduation, and his deployment to Iraq from Fort Campbell.  I was in the courtroom for Michael’s trial for premeditated murder at Fort Campbell, including the moment when a jury of seven non-combat officers convicted him of unpremeditated murder.  I witnessed the stunned look of betrayal on Michael’s face.  I was in that same courtroom again three weeks later when the trial judge denied a request for a mistrial on a Brady law violation (the government had withheld evidence.)  And I was in the small room at the back of that courtroom with Michael and his family for his last thirty minutes of freedom before he was taken away.

These past four years that Michael has sat in a small prison cell at Fort Leavenworth have been a tortuous journey for those closest to him – but as you can imagine, most of all for his parents Vicki and Scott.  They have endured the emotional pain of seeing their son treated as a criminal at the hands of a broken and blind military justice system, of five hour drives to ‘celebrate’ birthdays and holidays in a noisy visitation center, of the heartbreak of one court ruling after another go against Michael, of bizarre prison rules that change from visit to visit and which make civilian prisons look like Club Med.

But beyond the emotional toll that the Behenna’s have carried is the financial burden of taking on the United States government that has unlimited resources at their disposal (our tax dollars hard at work.)  Starting with the original trial to the CAAF appeal which we lost by a narrow 3-2 vote the Behenna’s have spent well over $400,000 in their fight for their son’s freedom.  I know that so many of you have already graciously stepped forward and lightened this financial burden, but unfortunately a significant shortfall remains.  And if the Supreme Court decides to hear Michael’s case that shortfall will grow by at least another $100,000.

The Behenna’s are a proud family and asking for financial support is not something they are comfortable doing, especially given how many people are in need today, including so many fellow Oklahoman’s devastated by the recent tornados.  So I humbly ask each of you who believe in Michael’s cause, to consider giving a few dollars to his legal fund, which can be found on his web site at www.defendmichael.com.  If each one of the thousands of supporters of Michael gave $20 then the Behenna’s would be able to cover most of the current deficit.  Donations can be made through PayPal on Michael’s web site, or if you prefer you can mail a check directly to his Michael’s defense fund at:

Michael Behenna Legal Defense Fund

c/o Jack Dawson, co-trustee

100 Park Avenue, Second Floor

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102-8099

Please know that your support for Michael, whether in the form of a donation, a card, or a letter, is appreciated more than words can say.  For Michael and his parents this difficult journey has only been possible because of the outpouring of support from all of you.  It has sustained them in their darkest hours, of which there have been many. Finally, please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers as we await the ultimate decision by the highest court in the land on whether they will hear Michael’s case.

I remain, now and forever, a proud supporter of a young man who some day I hope will be my son-in-law.

Respectfully,

David Wahl

A Mother’s Promise

Monday, May 20th, 2013

A Mother’s Promise