WASHINGTON -- The editor of the venerable conservative weekly Human Events is causing an admirable ruckus. Jed Babbin, once deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush and now the editor of the oldest conservative periodical in the land, is petitioning Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to dismiss charges against three SEALs for reputedly causing discomfort to one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq during his capture last September. Babbin now has more than 90,000 petitioners. Count me in.
The SEALs -- Julio Huertas, Jonathan Keefe and Matthew McCabe -- are members of SEAL Team 10. Their platoon captured one Ahmed Hashim Abed during a nocturnal raid on or about Sept. 1 in Iraq. Abed is suspected of being the mastermind of the March 2004 ambush in Fallujah of four Blackwater security guards, which by hindsight was not such a good idea on Abed's part. In a wild firefight, his brutes killed the Blackwater contractors, all retired commandos, when they drove into an ambush. Then they desecrated the bodies, dragging them through the streets and hanging two from a bridge for the world to see. That ostentatious display of barbarism caught the attention of the U.S. military, making it, of a sudden, aware that Iraq was becoming dangerously unstable, with violence potentially spiraling out of control. The atrocity was, as military commentator Rowan Scarborough has observed, a wake-up call that did not turn out well for the brutes.
Precisely what happened to Abed that September night is unclear. But he claims one of the SEALs, McCabe, punched him in the stomach, causing him to bleed from the lip -- odd symptoms, no? Presumably, we shall get all the details during the SEALs' court-martial trials, which are scheduled to begin next month. Yet are these trials really necessary? The other two SEALs are charged with participating in a cover-up. I think it is by now pretty well-established that terrorists do not always tell the truth, and they can be unruly when fallen upon in the dark of night in what they had thitherto considered secure hiding places.