Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the Commander for the Special Operations Command Central, already gave his response to the letter sent by Rep. Dan Burton and several of his colleagues in Congress. The letter from Rep. Burton had been sent to call for the dropping of charges against the Navy SEALs.
Even with the explanation provided by Cleveland in his letter, which described the media coverage on the charging of the Navy SEALs as “incomplete and factually inaccurate,” Burton reiterates that he still “strongly disagree(s)” with the decision to pursue the case against the SEALs.
Burton specifically mentions Cleveland’s admission that the injuries sustained by Ahmed Hashim Abed were “relatively minor and certainly pale in comparison to the brutality of the crimes that he helped perpetrate”. To this, Burton expresses that “it seems to me that the punishment still far exceeds the crime,” adding further that “prosecutorial discretion should have been exercised”.
Burton discussed two points in his response, the first pertaining to the fact mentioned by Cleveland that it was not simply Abed’s accusations that led to the charges; accusations were reportedly raised by fellow U.S. service personnel as well. The accusations, Burton counters, “strongly suggests that we have created a culture within our Armed Forces where our military personnel are now more concerned about protecting themselves from legal jeopardy for every action or statement, than they are about fighting the enemy”. Burton also adds: “Our troops and these SEALs need to be bold and decisive in combat; not hesitant and over-thinking every action for fear of prosecution.”
He then goes on to make his second point – that “the American people are outraged by the courts-martial of individuals who should be hailed as heroes”.
The trial dates for Navy SEALs Matthew McCabe and Julio Huertas were set for this month.