Written by Diana West
Scott and Vicki Behenna have now taken the final legal step on their son Michael's behalf: petitioning the US Supreme Court. If you are unfamiliar with the gross travesty of justice that is Michael's case -- he serves a 15-year prison sentence because the US military determined he lost his right to self-defense while interrogating a member of al Qaeda in Iraq, here is coverage of his final military court appeal in April 2012, where his conviction of unpremeditated murder was narrowly upheld 3-2 (more stories here).
Below read Scott and Vicki's letter to Michael's thousands of supporters. They invoke the great Holocaust witness Victor Frankl to help us understand Michael's indomitable spirit; they could easily have quoted Kafka to describe the ordeal the US military has inflicted on him.
Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl’s great insight from his profound experiences in a concentration camp was that true freedom lies in choice. As Frankl wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
And therein sums up the essence of Michael’s response to being in prison. He has chosen not to be defined by the bars that keep him from experiencing life as the rest of us know it. Rather he has chosen to have an attitude of gratefulness for his life and those that are in it (both inside and outside of prison), an attitude of relentless seeking of knowledge and understanding, and an attitude of being present to each and every day that God has given him. He is at peace with himself and there is a freedom in that which no judge or jury can take from him.
This week we filed Michael’s petition to the United States Supreme Court. This is the last legal venue available to Michael and will be the first time Michael's case will be heard outside the military justice system. We hope and pray the civilian judges on the Supreme Court will have a far different view of a Soldier’s right to defend oneself in a war zone when attacked by a member of al-Qa'ida. A team of four attorneys worked tirelessly, even sacrificing holiday time with their families, to put forth a petition that provides Michael his best opportunity to obtain Supreme Court review. We cannot thank them enough for the work they did on behalf of our son. See here to read the Supreme Court petition.
Our fourth trip to the Army Clemency Board will occur on February 7th. We will again present evidence that Michael is not a threat to society; that he has been a positive influence even in a prison environment; that he has been severely punished for his actions (far beyond what others convicted of a similar crime have received); and that he can easily assimilate back into society if given a ce. The Secretary of the Army can consider these four factors to greatly reduce Michael's sentence or to release him with time served.
We remain eternally grateful for all the letters, cards and gifts you’ve sent to Michael, contributions made to his legal fund, and your letters and phone calls to your Congressmen and Senators over the past four years. Your words of support and encouragement have sustained Michael and our entire family through this difficult and painful struggle to regain our son’s freedom. We graciously ask for your help to keep up the political pressure and other assistance to make Michael's release a reality. Here is an easy way to determine your Congressional Representatives and their addresses: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
Also, the petition is back in working order - please forward to your friends to help us get over the 30,000 mark.
Thank you for your support of our son. May this year be the year that Michael returns home to his family!
Scott & Vicki Behenna