Navy SEAL cleared of charges in terrorist beating case 

Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas was cleared of charges that he failed to prevent the beating of Ahmed Hashim Abed, an Al Qaeda terrorist who masterminded the killing of three American contractors in Iraq:

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” a smiling and composed Huertas said as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military’s Camp Victory on Baghdad’s western outskirts.

“Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging.”

Huertas said he plans now to continue with his military career and “to go home and kiss my wife.”

Huertas was the first of three SEALS to face a court-martial for charges related to the abuse incident and the verdict was a major blow to the government’s case. All three SEALs could have received only a disciplinary reprimand, but insisted on a military trial to clear their names and save their careers.

Two more SEALs are headed for the courtroom. In December, the Examiner editorialized in favor of these Navy SEALs getting their day in court. At the time, there was speculation the Navy was going to reprimand the SEALs without giving them a forum to clear their name.

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Mark Hemingway

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