First Lt. Michael BehennaArmy officer, First Lt. Michael Behenna facing a murder charge testified Thursday that he shot and killed an Iraqi after the detainee reached for his gun during an interrogation.

First Lt. Michael Behenna said he was trying to defend himself and hadn’t planned to shoot the detainee when he took him aside for questioning in the Iraqi desert. Behenna of Edmond, Okla. is charged with premeditated murder, assault and making a false statement. The premeditated murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence without parole. Forgive me but wouldn’t all killing at a time of war be considered premeditated?? Surely people didn’t think our troops were sent there to play tiddlywinks.

Prosecutors argue that Behenna intended to kill Ali Mansour Mohammed in May 2008 during an interrogation near a secluded railroad culvert near a U.S. military base. They’ve said Behenna had no remorse for the killing and justified it to others by saying Mohammed was a bad man.

Behenna testified Thursday at his murder trial at Fort Campbell that he defied orders to release Mansour because he wanted another chance to question the detainee he believed was involved in a roadside bombing in April that killed two members of his platoon.

He said he took drastic measures — stripping the detainee naked and interrogating him without authority — because he was trying to scare him into releasing the names of insurgents who were operating near Beiji, Iraq. Personally I would hardly classify his measures as drastic, we are after all, at war.

He verbally threatened the detainee, saying he was going to kill him if he didn’t talk, and finally pulled out his pistol and pointed it at him, Behenna testified.

“Ali Mansour kept saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and I pointed the weapon at him,” Behenna said.

At that point, Behenna turned his head to look at the Iraqi translator next to him. When he looked back, Mohammed had gotten up from his seated position and was moving toward the gun, Behenna said.

“I was scared Ali Mansour was going to take my weapon and use it on me,” Behenna said. “This happened very fast.”
Behenna said he shot him twice, once in the head and once in the chest.

Defense attorneys also argue that Behenna suffered from an acute stress disorder at the time of the shooting because of the horrific scene he witnessed during the bombing in April.

Family members testified that he was visibly shaken up when he returned home on leave shortly after. “He didn’t seem happy as he normally is and a little bit distant,” said Vicki Behenna, his mother.

Another soldier charged in the case, Staff Sgt. Hal Warner, pleaded guilty this month to charges of assault, maltreatment of a subordinate and making a false statement. Warner, from Braggs, Okla., was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

There is something seriously wrong when our military has to come back from fighting a war that our government sent them to fight and defend themselves against shooting someone. It would be very interesting, to say the least, to see how these judges that are putting our heros in jail, would react in similar situations. They left their families, homes and friends to do a job that they were sent to do so why in hell are they being treated like criminals??? The detainee, Ali Mansour Mohammed , made an attempt to grab his weapon and the Lt. responded appropriately. Any other response from First Lt. Michael Behenna would have most likely meant him returning home in a pine box.

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