Three US Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land special operations) who captured a top terrorist in Iraq are being rewarded not with medals and commendations but with a court martial to answer criminal charges stemming from allegations that they assaulted their prisoner.
The three non-commissioned officers — Petty Officers Matthew McCabe, Julio Huertos and Jonathan Keefe — captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, who is alleged to have been responsible for ordering the murder and mutilation of four contract workers, two of whom were later hung from a bridge in Fallujah. The incident shocked Americans in 2004 and a special operations team was dispatched to capture the killers and their leader.
According to Fox News national security correspondent Catherine Herridge, the SEALs succeeded in capturing Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber." Abed reportedly later told investigators he was punched by his captors causing his lip to bleed.
"The three suspects, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial," according to Fox News Channel.
"Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers," states the report.
Charges against the three SEALS include dereliction of duty, failure to safeguard a detainee, assault, and making false statements. The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on December 7. Another three SEALs — two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged, according to Fox News.
"All clear thinking Americans should be outraged. Is this how we treat our protectors? Is this justice?" asks a former NYPD detective and US Marine.
"Let me get this straight: we're trying a guy — a foreign terrorist — who killed 3,000 people on September 11, 2001 in a civilian court, but we're going to try three war heroes in a military court over a bloody lip?" adds political strategist Mike Barker.
The SEALs' court martial is scheduled for sometime in January, 2010.
The four civilian workers murdered by Abed were transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Abed's terrorists then burned the bodies and dragged them through the city streets. Finally, they hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.
SEALs are superbly trained in all environments, and are the master's of maritime special operations. They are required to utilize a combination of specialized training, equipment, and tactics in completion of special-ops missions.
A tactical force with strategic impact, their training includes unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance.
Although personnel comprise less than one percent of U.S. Navy personnel, they offer big dividends on a small investment. SEALs' proven ability to operate across the spectrum of conflict and in operations other than war in a controlled manner, and their ability to provide tactical intelligence offers military and political decision makers immediate and virtually unlimited options in the face of rapidly changing crises around the world.
The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are Maritime Special Forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected.