Navy SEALS face assault charges after capturing terrorist
Three U.S. Navy SEALS are facing assault charges stemming from their capture of Ahmed Hashim Abed in Iraq on Sept. 3. The SEALS have refused non-judicial punishment and have requested a trial by court martial. They will be arraigned on Dec. 7. and their court martial is scheduled for January.
Ahmed Hashim Abed is alleged to have been behind the ambush of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. The security guard's bodies were burned and dragged throughout the city. Two of the bodies were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
Abed told investigators he was punched by his captors Shortly after his capture, he was held at the SEAL base at Camp Baharia and was later taken to a cell in the U.S.-operated Green Zone in Baghdad.
United States Central Command declined to discuss the detainee, but a legal source told FoxNews.com that the detainee was turned over to Iraqi authorities, to whom he made the abuse complaints. He was then returned to American custody. The SEAL leader reported the charge up the chain of command, and an investigation ensued.
Matthew McCabe, a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.
Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.
Petty Officer Julio Huertas, SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.
Neal Puckett, an attorney representing McCabe, told Fox News the SEALs are being charged for allegedly giving the detainee a “punch in the gut.”
“I don’t know how they’re going to bring this detainee to the United States and give us our constitutional right to confrontation in the courtroom,” Puckett said. “But again, we have terrorists getting their constitutional rights in New York City, but I suspect that they’re going to deny these SEALs their right to confrontation in a military courtroom in Virginia.”
The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on Dec. 7. Another three SEALs — two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged.
A civilian lawyer for one of three SEALs said his client and the other SEALs declined a nonjudicial resolution to the case, a step sometimes called a "captain's mast." The servicemen say they did not harm the detainee in any way and they want their names cleared in a court-martial so they can continue their careers in the Navy, said the attorney, Neil Puckett.
Neal Puckett, military criminal defense lawyer and Lieutenant Colonel USMC (ret), joined the Steve Malzberg Show to discuss the story of three Navy Seals commandos facing criminal charges for punching Ahmed Hashim Abed in the mouth during his capture in Iraq. Abed is said to be the alleged mastermind behind the slaying of 4 U.S. Blackwater security guards in Falluja in 2004. He was captured that summer during a top secret mission and now is claiming he was assaulted during his arrest. The three servicemen now face court-martial.
Puckett will be representing Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe alongside JAG attorneys who will be assigned to each of the three Petty Officers involved in this case. McCabe is the one accused of punching Abed, but he is not being accused of punching Abed in the face as reports have said, but rather in the gut according to Puckett; it was later reported Abed also had a bloody lip. There are apparently witnesses such as the detention officer and of course Abed himself. Puckett told Steve he will sorting out of all the evidence because he feels the witnesses’ recounts are not true and that Abed may of self-inflicted his own wounds. Puckett believes this theory because is highly unlikely the officers would have roughed him up at the detention center.
The most egregious aspect of this case in Puckett’s eyes is that the U.S. military is taking Abed’s word first over these heroes who were just doing their jobs. Even if his accusation is true, a punch is such a minor thing to have occurred that the military could have just as easily written the officers a letter or chewed them out and said just be careful the next time. However, these officers now face court-martial over a punch. Puckett is also displeased that the three men will not have their constitutional right to face their accuser in trial since the military has already said they will not bring Abed over.
The commander of the special ops is the person who is responsible for bringing these men to trial, but Puckett does not blame him, but rather his attorneys who probably swayed him to go ahead with the charges. The attorney would most likely be someone in the JAG core, probably a Colonel in the Army or Captain in the Navy who is a senior advisor.
Click here to listen to Neal Puckett's interview on the Steve Malzberg Show: