Ali Mansur Mohamed was shot and killed in 2008. The man who killed him, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, was found guilty of unpremeditated murder for Mansur’s death and sentenced to 25 years in 2009. Now, years later, president Donald Trump has issued Behenna a full pardon.
After taking Mansur in for questioning over a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2008, the U.S. Army decided that they did not have enough evidence to tie Mansur to any crime, so he was released after being held for ten days.
However, Behenna would take to questioning the Iraqi on his own—the day he was set to be released. During the questioning, Behenna would strip Mansur of his clothing to interrogate him, and admitted that he told Mansur that he would kill him if he didn’t give the information he wanted.
Behenna then claimed that he acted in self-defense after Mansur—who was naked and unarmed at the time—attempted to take his weapon while they were on their way to return Mansur back to his hometown, so he had no other choice but to shoot him.
This could very well be true, and it may be considering that prosecutors in Behenna’s case are accused of withholding evidence from the defense during the military trial.
As NPR reports, Behenna’s family has worked vigorously on his behalf — and they are well-positioned to do so, with deep ties to law enforcement and the legal system. His father is Scott Behenna, who has worked for both the FBI and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. His mother is Vicki Behenna, an attorney and former longtime federal prosecutor in Oklahoma City who has led the charge to help her son — first to win parole and then to gain a presidential pardon.
While the pardon is certainly good news to Behenna’s family, one cannot help but point out the brutal irony of pardoning a soldier who killed a man who was not suspected of a crime and being released, while allowing the Department of Justice to bring up charges on a man whose only ‘crime’ is exposing criminals.
As TFTP reported in April, several men in black suits, surrounded by a dozen cops, raided the Ecuadorian embassy in London and kidnapped Julian Assange. Moments later, the Department of Justice released a statement charging Assange with computer hacking “conspiracy” for allegedly working with US Army soldier at the time, Chelsea Manning.
According to the DOJ, Assange’s roll in the alleged conspiracy with Manning was encouraging her to provide more information—something that any journalist worth their salt would be doing. This move has amounted to little more than the blatant criminalization of journalism.
The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it's the criminalization of journalism pic.twitter.com/GXNjWlkFZw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 11, 2019
Shortly after being kidnapped from the Embassy at the behest of the Trump administration’s Department of Justice, a kangaroo court was setup to railroad the journalist.
A London court ruled on May 1 that Assange was guilty of “violating bail conditions,” and he was sentenced to a 50-week internment at a high-security Belmarsh prison—a sentence United Nations human rights experts called “disproportionate” over such a “minor violation.”
Assange now faces extradition to the United States where he will be further prosecuted for “conspiracy” for doing nothing other than exposing war crimes of the West.
Julian Assange is a hero. His actions helped to expose horrifying crimes carried out by the US government, including mowing down innocent journalists with a .50 cal. His persecution by the UK and the US is undoubtedly retaliation and punishment for exposing these crimes.
While Behenna may have deserved this pardon from Trump, the idea that a journalist is being held in solitary confinement on a whim from this administration, and also faces the possibility of being “disappeared” in a US black site prison after his extradition, is utter insanity.
The US is now a country that celebrates death not only in the form of perpetual wars and endless occupations, but the death of journalism as we know it. Truth, or the seeking of, is an enemy to those who wish to kill for profit, and those who expose this truth become enemies by proxy.
Assange wanted people to know true history as this is the path to peace. “If wars can be started by lies, they can be stopped with the truth.”
This war on truth and those who seek it must be resisted.