I (www.jamesphillipslaw.com) spoke to SSG Mitch Warner’s family on Monday morning. They solidly stand behind Mitch and are now beginning to gather the evidence required for us to put on an appeal for SSG Warner. In speaking to them, they spoke of their disappointment with the US Army and the decision-making that lead to the death of detainee Ali Mansur by LT Behenna.
SSG Warner is now headed to Fort Sill, OK, where he will serve the balance of his seventeen month sentence. He will be close to home and at least he will finally be finished with his combat tours.
One of the questions taht I have never gotten an answer for in this case is Why did LT Behenna’s higher headquarters and unit release Ali Mansur to 5th platoon? This seemed extremely odd to me. 5th platoon had lost soldiers and had several wounded just a couple weeks prior. Ali Mansur was a suspect in those killings and that IED attack. 5th platoon had gone out and picked Ali Mansur and took him into the detainee detention facility as a suspect in the death of the soldiers.
So, why in the world, when the higher ups had decided that Ali Mansur had no information and couldn’t be held for the attack, did the chain of command use the same platoon that picked him up as a suspected terrorist to drop him off to the local population? There are no good answers. One answer would be that the Chain of Command wanted LT Behenna to have someone kill Ali Mansur. If there was a deliberate and conscious knowledge of Ali Mansur’s alleged AQI association, the COC may have thought that LT Behenna would find a way to have Ali Mansur killed. They could have dropped him off with those Iraqis that wanted him dead. They could have faked an incident or escape. The expectation may have been that 5th platoon would find a way to get the job done.
But, I am not much of a conspiracy theorist. The more likely answer is that this was just stupid negligence. The Chain of Command should have known that there would be an issue with the drop off of this detainee, but they were just too busy or distracted to think of the clear implications of this drop off.
Either way, this was an event that should have been avoided. The command had a responsibility to know that soldiers that have been under attack and have suspected terrorist in detention for those attacks are not the soldiers that should drop that detainee off to the local populace. This is a no brainer.
SSG Warner and LT Behenna are now both serving time for a death of a detainee. The trials of both men were complicated by the fact that they each knew that Ali Mansur was a suspected AQI member. LT Behenna did have justification for the killing, but it probably wasn’t the justification that the US Army wants to hear. Regardless, this whole event should have been stopped before it ever got started. Another platoon should have done the drop off. The blame for the shots being fired can be laid at LT Behenna’s feet, but the death of Ali Mansur and the conviction of two US Infantrymen can be laid at the feet of the chain of command.