President Trump has pardoned former Army Ranger Michael Behenna after he was convicted of unpremeditated murder for killing an al Qaeda operative in 2008.
Last night, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced, “Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna of Oklahoma.”
In April of 2008, as a young commander of a small 17-man platoon, Michael and his men were struck by a massive IED that killed two of his soldiers and severely injured others in his platoon.
After the IED attack, Behenna read several intelligence reports which drew a connection between the IED attack and an al Qaeda operative named Ali Mansur.
An Army intelligence report specifically cited Mansur as someone who “transports explosives” for the terror group, so Behenna worked with the local Sheik to locate the operative and took him into custody on May 5, 2008.
Mansur was ordered released by the Army and Behenna was told to transport the terrorist home.
Determined to obtain more information about the al Qaeda cell to further protect his soldiers from future attacks, Behenna decided to conduct a field interrogation while transporting him home.
During the interrogation, Mansur aggressively reached for Behenna’s weapon, so he shot and killed him in self-defense.
Shockingly, during his 2009 court martial, Army prosecutors failed to notify Behenna’s defense lawyers that a forensic expert had sided with Michael’s version of events surrounding the shooting.
Instead, prosecutors sent the expert home before he could testify and present his potentially exculpatory evidence to the panel.
The White House statement points out that dozens of generals and admirals signed a brief in support of Behenna’s self-defense claim.
“Thirty-seven generals and admirals, along with a Former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, signed a brief in support of Mr. Behenna’s self-defense claim. Numerous members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation, Oklahoma’s then-Governor Mary Fallin, and current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter have also expressed support for Mr. Behenna,” wrote the White House.
“Further, while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.”
Behenna released a statement last night, thanking President Trump for his “tremendous act of mercy.”
“Although this brings great peace to my family, we as a country must never forget Adam Kohlhaas and Steven Christofferson and all those who gave their lives in service of this great nation,” the statement continues. “They represent the finest of our society, and their families will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.”