The 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna Story

Updated Information: Be sure to read all the way through this post as I have updated information on the Michael Behenna story.


I feel obligated to share this story with you. I first learned about 1LT Michael Behenna while surfing Facebook a couple years ago.  Somehow I stumbled upon a post that was promoting a link from the “Defend Michael Website.”  I decided to click on the link and check out the website.  After spending about 45 minutes on the website, I was absolutely amazed that I had never heard about this story before.  I figured something like this would be all over the news 24/7.

After reading the website, I experienced a wide variety of emotions from anger, to sadness, to betrayal, and pure disappointment.

His story goes something like this…

“On March 20th, 2009, 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.”

When you read all the information in this story, you will quickly discover that there are some VERY disturbing things.  I won’t get into all of that here, but visit the website in the link above and educate yourself.    The case is/was very controversial.

As a former Soldier, I am very disappointed with how things turned out in the Michael Behenna case.

Not just the end result, but the process itself.  There were some key pieces of evidence that were practically ignored.  Even worse, not ONE member on the court martial panel had any combat experience.  I could go on and on, but I don’t want to rant.

My bottom line is that if a Soldier is put on trial for some type of war crime, they should receive a fair, unbiased trial.  

The government should do all it can do to make sure ALL the evidence is taken into consideration and that there isn’t a BIGGER AGENDA that will determine the outcome of the case.

I’ll be the first to admit that war is a horrible thing.  Every Soldier knows that when they deploy there’s a chance they might not come home alive!  But they also hope that their government will stand beside them if something crazy happens (like in the case of 1LT Michael Behenna). I personally signed the petition because I believe that ALL Americans (including Soldiers) have right to a FAIR trial.  I hope you will visit the website and decide for yourself!  Educate yourself, and if you feel compelled, help spread the word!

Updated Info

Chuck wrote this piece some time back. There is some new information you should be aware of:

  • Michael’s attorney put up a strong appeal over the fact that the prosecution’s forensic analyst agreed that wounds of the terrorist showed it was self defense. This was not said during the trial.
  • Many U.S. Attorneys and States Attorneys General, law professors, and lawyers wrote to the Secretary of the United States Army, Pete Geren, asking for a retrial.
  • The forensic analyst signed a motion for a mistrial.
  • Both a retrial and mistrial were denied. But the sentence was reduced to 20 years.
  • Michael’s family appealed to the Army’s Clemency Board and his sentence was reduced to 15 years.
  • They again appealed and it was denied.
  • In 2014, a clemency request was again denied, but Michael was granted parole on March 14th, 2014 having served less than 5 years.
  • Because of the conviction, Michael’s life is not easy. Currently, Michael and his family are strongly urging President Donald Trump to pardon him. And Oklahoma’s Attorney General is backing this pardon.

Like Chuck, after reading Michael’s complete story, I am completely disturbed. This man was not a cold-blooded murderer like the man he killed in self-defense.

Please give a shout out of support for this soldier and I pray everything he lost is restored.

Thank you Michael for your service!

Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “The 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna Story”

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Yes, the resulting sentence in LT Behanna’s case is ridiculous, but I don’t think the big issue is that the panel had no combat experience. I think the more serious problem lies in what secret agenda they and prosecutors had been given that was so important as to suppress evidence in order to jail an innocent soldier. If it HAD been all over the news, I would say it was a CYA job so the media wouldn’t rip the Army a new one over the “murder” of a foreign national. However, since it wasn’t widely publicized, what could they have been hoping to achieve? Perhaps someone had threatened that if they didn’t convict, the story WOULD be publicized? All in all, very confusing and wrong.

  2. Amy Skalicky

    Did you read the email from Dr. MacDonnell, the blood spatter expert? It was clear that Ali Mansur was shot in the chest from a standing position, and it is clear to the good doctor that 1LT Behenna was telling the truth. He was never put on the stand! The jury never saw the evidence or heard from Dr. MacDonnell! I can’t believe I had not heard of this until I read this post.

  3. Amy Skalicky

    I read the whole story, and I am so angry and so heartbroken all at the same time. It infuriates me when a soldier gets the shaft due to an obvious hidden agenda. Either it’s political, or someone is playing CYA and could care less about the devastation it has caused, or both. I get a sense he was set up–why in the world, out of the soldiers that could have and should have been selected to escort Mr. Al Qaeda, was he the one selected? He was clearly vulnerable, and I think somebody wanted Ali Mansur dead, and this was a predictable way to accomplish that. Someone like Ali Mansur is going to sieze an opportunity to inflict more death when he can. Obviously he couldn’t have escaped, but men like that don’t care. They just want to kill Americans, and an American soldier is prime pickings. I’d like to see official protocol on this type of operation. I also don’t see where the interpreter’s story was part of the evidence, and clearly he was a witness. What’s up with that? It’s time our government PROTECTS the ones who protect US! He should have been given a medal for stopping more of his fellow soldiers from dying. What a slap in the face for killing a known Al Qaeda operative. I am thankful for being an American, but I have to say, our government makes it really hard sometimes.

  4. This is a truly shocking story, Chuck. It has my blood boiling just thinking about how I would feel if that were me…people, with no combat experience, that are judging me for my actions. I agree with you 100% that there seems to be a lot of missing and obviously overlooked pieces to this story…the only question I have is WHY!? I seriously do not understand why the military seemed so willing to “throw him under the bus” like that and not do all they could to help shed as much light on the situation as they could. I would also argue that the REAL person at fault here would be the higher brass that ordered 1LT Behenna to return that terrorist to his family. Who does that? I remember when a Soldier in our unit was killed by an IED and it was very clear that OUR unit was NOT to pursue him but rather another. It is just common sense, they knew what our guys would have done to that coward once they found him… That’s why they sent in another unit…there is no personal vendetta and other feelings that would create the urge to just kill the guy. I think that whoever thought it was a good idea to send the LT, who just had 2 of his Soldiers killed, to return an obviously guilty terrorist back to the battlefield is irresponsible and should be behind bars as well…. Naw, chances are he probably got promoted and is serving a cooshie job right now… Makes my blood boil.

    1. It is a shocking story, and while I agree that he was wrong to interrogate the terrorist, he never even should have been put in that position by his senior officers. Worst of all, the expert shows that he killed the terrorist in an act of self defense, not murder. Yet, that evidence was overlooked.

      I’m mad at the end result, but I’m more upset about the PROCESS in the military legal system. That is where I have major gripes. To me, I don’t think he got a fair trial.

      Just my two cents. Thanks for the comment.


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