Retired military officers seek U.S. Supreme Court review of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna's case
A group that includes five retired four-star generals says the high court should clarify the right of self-defense for soldiers serving in combat zones. Behenna, an Oklahoman, is serving time for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
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The department has been given a deadline of March 29.
The friend-of-the-court brief of the retired officers, filed by attorneys with the international law firm McDermott Will and Emery, states Behenna shouldn't have lost the right to self-defense simply because he was conducting an unauthorized interrogation at gunpoint and wasn't in a battlefield situation.
“A service member's pointing of a weapon at a suspected enemy in a combat zone is not the same as actually using deadly force,” the brief states.
“Pointing a firearm allows a service member to control the suspected enemy, and more importantly, to protect U.S. service members and others in combat zones, which by definition entail hazards not present in other settings.”
If Mansur had wrestled away the weapon, Behenna and troops under his command would have been endangered, the brief states.
“Thus, assuming that Lieutenant Behenna's claim that Mansur lunged for his weapon is truthful … it would have been a dereliction of duty for Lieutenant Behenna not to fire in self-defense,” the brief states.
Behenna could have avoided the whole situation by following orders and taking Mansur home, the brief notes.
“But a bad situation created by Lieutenant Behenna's own folly would have become even worse had he allowed Mansur to seize his pistol,” the brief states.