Case status: Master Sergeant Hatley has a Writ pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. His case is scheduled for a 24 September 2012 U.S. Supreme Court reading to determine a hearing date.
John Hatley was a highly decorated combat veteran of nineteen years and six months military service. He was deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Operation Desert Storm and three tours of duty in Iraq. The soldiers of Alpha Company 1-18 1st Army Infantry knew him to be the first into a hot spot and the last to come out.
U.S. Army Master Sergeant John Hatley is now serving a forty-year sentence in Leavenworth prison. He was convicted by a 2009 Court Martial of murdering four Iraqi insurgent arrestees in Baghdad following a 2007 ambush and firefight…
Many officers in the military’s upper echelons remain willfully ignorant of Islamic doctrine and oblivious to its dynamics in the war. They write the crippling ROE and the Catch-and-Release policies that have caused the deaths of innumerable American soldiers and Marines — and they sit comfortably behind their desks at the Pentagon. In the meantime, men like John Hatley sit in prison.”
A message from Master Sergeant Hatley:
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my undying gratitude for the tremendous amount of support that everyone has shown for myself and my fellow soldiers that have been wrongfully incarcerated over the past 2 ½ years in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
Although it has been trying at times, we’ve continued to maintain a positive attitude. While the freedom we’ve fought so intensely to protect for others has been taken from us and the control we had over our own lives has been completely removed, we still maintain control over our attitude in the face of these innumerable challenges. We will not falter and will remain resilient. We also remain hopeful that with the support of our families, friends and fellow Americans that this gross miscarriage of justice will soon be remedied. It is disheartening at best that our military and government has allowed and even facilitated this travesty.
I understand this is actually the first time many of you have heard from me. It has recently been brought to my attention that several of you have been misinformed on many of the facts surrounding my case. I hope I’m able to provide you with some level of clarification into some of the more serious issues.
First and foremost, the convictions we received were based entirely from testimony. Throughout the entirety of the investigation and also the trial, the military, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the prosecution were unable to produce a single piece of physical or forensic evidence to support the allegation that a crime had even been committed. Until my incarceration, I had no idea how common that was. Furthermore, of the testimony that was given, the methods used by CID to elicit statements from soldiers were unconscionable. These same methods used by CID are prohibited for soldiers to use in combat. But outside of a combat zone, in the comfort of an administrative setting, CID is without checks and balances for the methods that they utilize. It is disgusting and infuriating to me to have our soldiers, (many of whom who have served in combat zones defending this great nation), treated with such disrespect and abuse as they were by CID.
Of the time that I spent training my soldiers for unparalleled results in combat, I never imagined that I would need to teach them how to protect themselves from our fellow soldiers in the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the Army.
After serving 20 years in the military, I feel disillusioned to now realize how unjust and defective the military judicial system is. I say defective because I can’t say ineffective. The military judicial system is a system so fatally flawed, that the Army is able to claim one of the highest conviction rates among the varying judicial systems. The ability to claim that statistic is a direct result of the willingness of CID to compromise the constitutional rights of the accused and mortgage their own integrity in the process.
The military and the government have failed to hold prosecutors accountable for withholding evidence or for prosecutorial misconduct. The military appeals process, which has been described as being “irretrievably broken”, is nothing more than a fatally flawed continuation of the trial process. There is no viable opportunity for any soldier to be heard and to have their constitutional rights uncompromised. The military judicial process from start to finish blatantly denies due process to our soldiers.
For example: With very few exceptions, military service members are not allowed to submit petitions to the US Supreme Court unless the military Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) grants a review of the petition. The net result of that regulation is that if CAAF affirms a conviction without allowing a review, the service member has lost their right to appeal that decision to the US Supreme Court. This is a right provided to all Americans and in certain cases some that are not citizens of this country. But, if you join the military and fight to defend our Constitutional Rights for all others, you, the service member appear to forfeit your Constitutional rights at the time you enlist.
I’m sure you can imagine how in some cases, especially politically driven cases, it would be in the best interest of the military to deny any outside knowledge of wrong doing.
What are the constitutional issues of blocking a review of a military judicial decision? What other entire judicial system is permitted to be exempt from judicial review by the US Supreme Court?
Additionally, many of the men that I have met while incarcerated have expressed their preference to have been tried in a civilian court or at least permit civilians to serve as members of the jury in a military trial. These are the natural resulting thoughts when you have witnessed first hand the bias and injustices in the military judicial system. When a system fails in one case, and goes unchecked the risk is that the system will fail in many other cases.
None should feign to be so naïve to think that there cannot be command influence in the military justice system. None should feign to be so naïve to think that a private would ever disagree with a Major on a panel of jurists, for fear of unsettling the chain of command.
When concerns over appeasing a foreign country are allowed to interfere with justice for the purpose of the US government or the military demonstrating that we, the military or the US government will hold our soldiers accountable using a fatally flawed military judicial system, it doesn’t matter what the truth is; it matters only that there is only the appearance of the truth.
I assure you, I was found guilty before I ever entered the court room. I have not, nor have I ever had reservations about dying for my country or for my men. What I do take issue with is being used as a pawn on a political chessboard or sacrificing my men or myself to provide assurances to a foreign country that we are at war with.
It is my hope that this provides a small measure of enlightenment into the struggles your military personnel face. I obviously have only scratched the surface and hope to have the opportunity to address several other problems plaguing our military courts system. I fear if I broach them now, you may go blind reading a 500 page dissertation.
Again, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to everyone committed to correcting this situation. I would like to extend a special thank you to my parents and sisters for being pillars of strength and providing unconditional love and support throughout this ordeal. To Richard and Rehnee, my second family, thank you for being there without fail. Words cannot express how much you and your family mean to me. And to Sarah who is truly an incredibly amazing woman whom without her efforts and commitment to my case so many things could never have been accomplished. I’m forever in your debt.
I have a renewed hope that I will be released, along with my soldiers and reinstated, but this will not happen without difficulty. I have the utmost confidence that our team currently involved will gain success. We only ask to have our names cleared, to be reinstated and to have our honor restored.
With my deepest respect,
John E Hatley