Six members of the Congressional Justice for Warriors Caucus attended the parole hearing for First Sergeant John Hatley this week; speaking out in support of his release from confinement from Leavenworth prison.
Those in attendance were caucus founders, Congressmen Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), as well as Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA).
“There’s no question as I looked, investigated, interviewed John Hatley; this is an incredible, patriotic American. He’s a guy who has two bronze stars… This is a guy who’s been in 300 or so fire fights. He’s done nothing but help and protect his troops,” said Congressman Louie Gohmert.
“There are problems with the system… Some of the things that I was proud of -as good for protecting proper justice being down- some of those have been eroded over the years. The Justice for Warriors Caucus is going to try and improve the system and change the laws, make it more fair so we don’t convict our heroes,” he added.
In 2009, First Sergeant Hatley, a respected and highly decorated soldier, was convicted of the premeditated murder of four Iraqi detainees. Despite a thorough investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), no physical or forensic evidence was uncovered to support the allegations against Hatley. The CID found no bodies, no one was even reported missing—all it took was one accusation in the wake of the Abu-Ghraib scandal from a soldier he had recently disciplined. First Sergeant Hatley was ultimately convicted based on the testimony of soldiers who changed their stories after prosecutors threatened them with potential life sentences as co-conspirators.
“If First Sergeant Hatley were a civilian, it is highly doubtful that the U.S. criminal justice system would have found him guilty given the circumstances that we now believe to be true about this case, including the total lack of forensic evidence. First Sergeant Hatley is a 20-year combat veteran who served our nation at considerable risk to his own life. I believe that our military justice system owes First Sergeant Hatley – and all who serve – the same fair considerations and due processes enjoyed by those of us back home, who live under the freedoms that he fought to defend,” said Congressman Ralph Norman.