Listening to the procedural review of Evan's case, I am struck again by the ghastly surrealism of their plight -- the penalties the U.S. government has forced on its most dutiful sons for not committing, in effect, suicide as the Navy SEALs did in choosing to escape prison rather than death.
Meanwhile, literally thousands of incarcerated terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have been granted clemency or otherwise found their freedom. Recently, Ali Musa Daqduq, a Hezbollah mastermind who confessed to kidnapping, torturing and killing five American soldiers in 2007, walked free in Iraq. In December 2011, President Obama turned over Daqduq to an Iraqi court, which released him this month. According to the most basic moral calculus, this is neither fair nor right. As Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida recently wrote to President Obama, it's an "utter betrayal."
I steal another glance at the Carnahans, now focused on the court proceedings. Like the other Leavenworth families, they have been counting off the years by trials, appeals, clemency boards and pleas for congressional support. Back in early 2009, there were flutters in the news about a possible pardon for Evan from outgoing President Bush. Then nothing. No pardon. Which was, to my mind, unpardonable. George W. Bush should have pardoned Evan and the other soldiers, now prisoners, whom he ordered into a confusing, rules-restricted war against an army without uniforms on a battlefield without lines.
And so, the Leavenworth 10 sit in prison: Michael Behenna, Corey Clagett, John Hatley, William Hunsaker, Larry Hutchins, Michael Leahy, Joseph Mayo, Michael Williams, Evan Vela. Newcomer Derrick Miller has joined them. Miller last year drew a life sentence after unsuccessfully claiming self-defense in the killing of a suspected Afghan insurgent who had penetrated his defensive perimeter.
Memorial Day -- the day we mourn our war dead -- is coming. President Obama, give these men another chance at life. Pardon them.