NORFOLK, Va. - Congressman Randy Forbes is the latest lawmaker to join therally of support for three Navy SEALs accused of mistreating thesuspected terrorist who masterminded the ambush and killing of fourBlackwater contractors protecting a convoy in Iraq. Manylegislators on Capitol Hill are asking the Navy to drop itsprosecution of the SEALs.
Ahmed Hashim Abed, the alleged terrorist, had been on the runsince the ambush in Fallujah in 2004. The three accused SEALsrecently captured him. Now, SEAL Mathew McCabe, 24, is on trial forallegedly punching Abed in the stomach one time. Fellow SEALs JulioHuertas Jr., 28, and Jonathan Keefe, 25 are charged with lying toinvestigators.
Congressman Forbes told WAVY.com in a written statement, "I amconcerned about what many see as a growing trend for government tofocus its resources on punishing those individuals who defend andprotect us from terrorists who are deliberately seeking to killinnocent Americans, while at the same time extending more and moreprotections for terrorists. This is a trend that must bereversed."
Dozens of legislators have signed a bipartisan letter toSecretary of Defense Robert Gates that says the SEALs "captured aterrorist who had planned an attack that not only killed Americansbut also maimed and mutilated their bodies." The letter goes on tosay, "There was no allegation of torture or sustained abuse" andthese charges are an "overreaction by the command." The lawmakerssay the prosecution of the SEALs "will have a negative impact onothers in the military who risk their lives in dangerous, oftenambiguous situations."
Congressman Glenn Nye of Virginia Beach, a member of the HouseArmed Services committee, signed the letter and told WAVY.com, "Thethree Navy SEALs should not face a court martial."
Congressman Rob Wittman agrees. "They could have shot and killedthis terrorist, but they practiced restraint, they followedstrictly the rules of engagement knowing that this was a high-valueterrorist. And their restraint in how they dealth with this andtheir maturity in how they dealt with this speaks volumes. I thinkthey did things exactly by the book," said Wittman.
At Monday's support rally for the SEALs, Scott Taylor, a formerSEAL and 2nd district congressional candidate, called the chargesan atrocity. "This is a terrorist who planned, killed, mutilatedand hung burned bodies from a bridge in Fallujah, which caused aninvasion into Fallujah, which gave us more American casualties andthis guy has a bloody lip. He's lucky he's not dead," saidTaylor.
Senator Jim Webb's Press Secretary, Kimberly Hunter, toldWAVY.com, "We are aware of and continue to monitor the matter but,at this point, it would not be appropriate for Senator Webb tointervene until the investigation and judicial proceedings arecomplete."
McCabe and Huertas are set to stand trial in January in militarycourt at Naval Station Norfolk. Keefe has yet to be arraigned.
A van crashed into a house in Virginia Beach Wednesday, and fire officials said an elderly driver was behind the wheel.
A 12-year-old student was arrested and charged with making a threat against a Hampton middle school.
The suspect entered Oriental Decor in the Lynnhaven Crossing Shopping Center around 1:50 p.m. on Dec. 6 and stole a sword valued at $300.