Who Is Michael Behenna? New Details On The Soldier Convicted Of Murder Who Was Pardoned By Trump

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Who Is Michael Behenna? New Details On The Soldier Convicted Of Murder Who Was Pardoned By Trump

Often times when we think of the military, we call forward images of bravery and heroism that have been ingrained in our minds since childhood. We imagine men and women stepping forward, putting their lives on the line, to fight some faceless evil in another place, so that the citizens of our great nation can live out their normal lives in peace and prosperity. 

The truth is a little less pretty, and much less cut and dry. A great example of this lies in the recent pardoning of Michael Behenna, a military officer who was accused of the murder of Ali Mansur. Mansur was a suspect in a vehicle bombing that killed several of Behenna's colleagues, and was thought to have ties with Al Quaeda. Who is Michael Behenna?

1. There was no conclusive evidence that the man was associated with the attack

Although Mansur was suspected to have been involved with the attack and with the terrorist group Al Quaeda, there was no conclusive evidence to prove this. In fact, Behenna's superiors had sent him to release and escort Mansur home when the murder occurred. Instead, Behenna decided to take matters into his own hands.

2. Behenna interrogated the man without prior authorization

Behenna took Mansur off the road with several others present and decided to try to force Mansur to give up the information. He stripped Mansur naked in order to intimidate him, and asked him questions about the intelligence Mansur repeatedly claimed not to know. Behenna did this interrogation at gunpoint in a remote area. Some reports claim that Mansur had even been tied up.

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3. Behenna claims self-defense 

Behenna claims that there was a moment where Mansur said something in Arabic, and that he had turned to his interpreter for clarification, when he heard Mansur throw a rock. He says that by the time he turned around Mansur was reaching for his gun. In an act of self defense, he drew his weapon and shot Mansur twice: once in the chest and again in the head, killing him immediately. Behenna emphasizes that he was scared for his life, and reacted quickly in an act of self preservation. However, Behenna also didn't tell anyone, he just set a grenade under the body and returned to base camp without saying anything. 

4. He also tried to appeal his rulings

Behenna stated that he was left hung to dry, when prosecutors failed to call the expert to the stand, withholding information that could have been vital to the interpretation of the case. It's difficult to ascertain whether this would have affected the ruling, because the evidence was not released. However, Behenna did get his sentence reduced from 25 to 15 years in prison before his pardon.

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5. Trump issued his eighth pardon

Trump signed Behenna's pardon on Monday, after Behenna applied for a pardon in 2018. John Richter, Behenna's attorney, said,  “We know we have a president who is very sympathetic to the very difficult situation that soldiers, sailors and Marines were put in during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.” For this reason, they were hopeful that Trump would see cause to pardon the soldier. 

Beth El Fattal is currently a student at Western Washington University in her senior year. As an English literature major and soon-to-be college graduate, her writing offers her the ability to express her own personal experiences, uplift others, and entertain audiences with her unique voice. She is best known for being the designated ‘mom’ of her friend group, wearing scarves on the daily, and always keeping her friends and family laughing through hardship.