To all of my supporters,
I wanted to write this letter to the thousands of people all over the world who continue to support me and still have hope that justice is indeed attainable in the military justice system. It is an attempt to show my mindset here in prison to the people whom I have not had the opportunity to meet.
Recently the Army Court of Appeals ruled against my request for a new trial. As odd as it may sound, I have been preparing for this day for over a year. That is, I was prepared for an unfavorable decision whereby the court would uphold my conviction and sentence. Like Shakespeare said, ‘Expectation is the root of all heartache’ because expectation leaves one vulnerable to disappointment. Expectation is not the same as hope and I promise you I have not lost that. I was recently reminded of a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption where the main character (another man who was unjustly sent to prison) says ‘Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things.’ So while my hope was for a good outcome, my expectation was much more practical for a person sitting behind bars with a lot of time on his hands. And because I kept my expectations in check the decision by the Appeals Court did not emotionally harm me; for it to do that it would have had to come from within. No one can harm the man who refuses to harm himself.
So this court decision does not discourage at all. Furthermore, I am not bitter or angry, nor do I hate the people that had anything to do with putting me in prison. If I hated them they would still be controlling me and I refuse to give them that power. They may have confined my body and taken my physical freedom away, but my mind remains as free as any mans. I am never left with nothing so long as I retain the freedom to choose how I respond. While we cannot always control what happens to us, we can control our emotions and how we react to what happens to us.
I remain hopeful that in the end justice will prevail and that I may have a fair, impartial trial where all the evidence may be heard. As Judge H. Lee Sarokin said ‘If trials are indeed searches for the truth rather than efforts to conceal it, full and fair disclosure is necessary to protect and preserve the rights of the accused.’ May more people like you begin to shine a light on the unchecked and ‘under the table’ injustice that runs rampant in our military justice system; a system that we here at Leavenworth have known firsthand, and now the public is getting a glimpse of. This system cannot be “for justice and not against injustice.’
May the military courts learn something from the wisdom of King Solomon about being just and fair rather than abusing power. King Solomon had a dream in which God came to him and said “Ask me anything and I will give it to you.” King Solomon answered “I am but a little child. I know not how to go out or to come in, but I am a servant of thy people. Give me, therefore, an understanding heart that I may judge thy people wisely and fairly.” And God said “Because you did not ask for the lives of your enemies, did not ask for longevity, did not ask for riches, because you asked only for this one thing…understanding, I will give you understanding. There will be none wiser than you on this earth.”
So each day I strive to not focus on the bad, but to find the good. I immerse myself in books that take me a thousand miles from this place of concrete and steel. I push forward in my quest of self-discovery and self-observation seeking wisdom to call my own. From the small window in my prison cell I can see a cornfield where a farmer toils in the hot summer air and I find myself longing to walk that field and feel the earth beneath my feet and the sun against my face. My hopes are to someday have my own land upon which I will raise cattle and spend all my waking hours in that warm sun upon my horse whose name only I will know.
Gratitude is not something one would expect to find behind these walls, but it is here where I found it…waiting to teach me what really matters in this life. And while I sleep she gently reminds me how truly blessed my life is.
To my family I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the strength, support, and unconditional love you have given me all the days of my life.
To my Uncle Rick who is facing his last days on this earth I want you to know how much I love you and admire the life you have lived.
To my girlfriend Shannon for standing beside me I offer up this quote: ‘….and though the road’s end is out of sight, I do not think of the end, for it’s the loving I so love’. I am so grateful for the love we have for each other and know that it far outweighs the frustration of not being able to have each other like we both want.
I want to thank each of you who continue to support me with your kind letters and your thoughts and prayers. It shows that there are people who still care about me and are willing to strike out against injustice. At the grave of Robert F Kennedy there is a quote which says: ‘It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’ You are those ripples in my life that give me hope and for that I am eternally grateful.
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If you are not familiar with Micheal's case go over too www.defendmichael.com and read about the circumstances regarding his being brought up on charges and the legal issues at the subsequent trial . I have no reservations in saying I believe1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna should get another trial and be free. Below is a quick summary but I suggest you read up on it and I think you might come to the conclusion I have that this was a miscarriage of justice.
Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Ali Mansur, a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. Mansur was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant’s area of operation and Army intelligence believed he organized an attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.
During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans