By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The three Navy SEALs being arraigned Monday in Norfolk, Va., for allegedly punching a suspected Iraqi terrorist are set to receive a hero's welcome as they enter court. Friends and dedicated Facebook pages are urging supporters to cheer on the SEALs, who many feel are being unfairly prosecuted by U.S. Central Command.
According to reports, Ahmed Hashim Abed, suspected in the 2004 murder of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah, Iraq, said his lip was bloodied during his arrest by the SEALs.
A Facebook page, "Support The Navy SEALs who Captured Ahmed Hashim Abed," has sprung up and drawn nearly 45,000 members. "As a nation we must stand behind these men, we must do so with such an overwhelming voice that these men personally hear and feel our support, our thanks, our gratitude, our pride," the page says. "They are true heroes."
Another Facebook page exhorts people to show up at the arraignment to protest the upcoming courts-martial. There are over 500 members.
The reason for the outpouring of support? "It is the juxtaposition of the enormity of the evil that this terrorist did, compared with the minor harm, even if true, that the SEALs committed," Neal A. Puckett, an attorney, told Whispers.
Puckett represents Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, the one in the trio accused of hitting Abed. He said McCabe denies the charge. The other two SEALs, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, are charged with giving false statements. They will have separate arraignments and courts-martial.
Norfolk expects a big crowd to turn out and has issued a permit for over 500 to protest.