Diana West, writing a column in the form of an open letter to General David Petraeus, suggests that he should be “testifying before the American people” about “national scandals” which, she accuses him, “you have so far successfully left in your dust”.
The scandals she means are:
Lying to the House Intelligence Committee about Benghazi twice; causing death and dismemberment of U.S. forces by directing them to walk the IED-packed roads of Afghanistan as part of a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy to win Afghans’ trust; and your see-no-Islam COIN strategy itself.
And she asks him to –
Take that apparently bulletproof reputation of yours and use it to seek clemency for the so-called Leavenworth 10.
The Leavenworth 10? She explains:
This tag refers to a group of American soldiers now serving long prison terms mainly at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for crimes committed on your COIN battlefield in Iraq, and also Afghanistan. Across time and space, from desks in orderly offices peering into ghastly battlefields, obsessed military prosecutors have been able to see murder and even premeditated murder in the eyes of these soldiers who were blinded by the densest fog of war.
Since it was you who ordered these young men into the hostile urban combat zones in Iraq to win hearts and minds, since it was you who set them up, unable to tell friend from foe, to earn trust and confidence amid hostile outposts in Afghanistan, it should now be you who leads them out of their living hells. Long after the U.S. government has released tens of thousands of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan — including Hezbollah mastermind Musa Daqduq, for example — it is time for you, the leading general in these wars, to declare that these young Americans, these American prisoners of COIN, have been punished enough.
She goes on to cite some of the Leavenworth 10 in particular – what they’re accused of, the draconian punishments they’ve been sentenced to endure:
I refer, for example, to 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, the elite Army Ranger whose last-ditch interrogation of an al-Qaida terrorist ended when, as forensic evidence indicates, he killed the detainee he was questioning in self-defense. Michael has served roughly four years behind bars, but that’s only a dent in his 15-year sentence.
There is Pvt. Corey Clagett, the most junior and the only imprisoned member of an Army squad implicated in following direct orders to shoot captured Iraqi insurgents in Operation Iron Triangle. Corey was sentenced to 18 years; cruelly and unusually, he has already spent nearly seven years in solitary confinement.
There is Sgt. Evan Vela, the first-tour Army sniper whose commander ordered him to kill a captured Iraqi struggling to blow the squad’s cover behind enemy lines. He was sentenced to 10 years.
There is also Sgt. Derrick Miller, an Army National Guard veteran of Afghanistan, who, during a harsh interrogation, killed in self-defense an Afghan who had penetrated his squad’s defensive perimeter. He received life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
There are more such men whose names you should know — Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins (sentenced to 11 years), Army Master Sgt. John Hatley (sentenced to 40 years) — whose tragic stories should in truth keep you awake at night …
All of these young Americans marched into the crosshairs of COIN, the place where your hearts and minds strategy blew up, the place where living among, loving, respecting and bribing Iraqis and Afghans according to COIN’s see-no-Islam tenets became life-or-death propositions. These men managed to stay alive. According to COIN, that’s their main offense.
She asks him to plea for clemency for them.
As he hopes for forgiveness for himself, he should – we agree – want it for these men who are – yes – the victims of his misguided, even absurd policy, best summed up as a redirection of the American military in chaotic Iraq and savage Afganistan to act as an army of social workers rather than as warriors.