Oklahoma soldier Michael Behenna has paid for his war crime

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: January 15, 2014

The U.S. Army's parole board should set 1st Lt. Michael Behenna free. With his five years in prison, Behenna has more than paid his debt for the crime that landed him there.

Behenna, of Edmond, was convicted in 2009 of killing a suspected Iraqi terrorist named Ali Mansur, who was believed to have had a hand in a roadside bombing that killed two of Behenna's men. Behenna testified at his court-martial that he shot Mansur after the man, who had been stripped during an interrogation, threw a piece of concrete at him and lunged for Behenna's gun.

His conviction on a charge of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone was upheld by two military appeals courts. His original 25-year sentence was cut to 15 years, but the idea Behenna could serve the entire time for this crime is distressing.

Behenna, 30, was a model soldier and terrific leader. What happened that day in Iraq doesn't make him a hero — he has never sought that title. It also doesn't make him a coldblooded killer who should spend the most productive years of his life in a prison cell.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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