U.S. Army Master SGT. John Hatley, a highly decorated veteran with nearly twenty years of service. Master SGT Hatley has been deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Panama, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Master SGT. Hatley saw combat during Operation Desert Storm and servedthree tours of duty in Iraq.
While on duty in Baghdad in April 2007, Master SGT. Hatley and his unit found themselves under enemy fire. The insurgents were captured; found in their possession were small arms and sniper rifles as well as ammunition. All four of them tested positive for gun shot residue. Master SGT. Hatley radioed the Detention Holding Area Annex to let them know he was on his way with the four detainees. DHAA refused to accept them due to “lack of sufficient evidence to hold.” Hatley was ordered to release the terrorists who had tried to take their lives.
From Master SGT. Hatley’s statement:
“Prior to releasing the detainees, we refueled our vehicles, checked our combat loads (this is a process of double checking your equipment, ammunition and readjust equipment in the vehicle), some of us refilled our coffee cups and went back to our vehicles to drive the detainees to the area in order to release them. We left on patrol at approximately dusk and traveled to a remote location and released them. The drop off point was farther west than where we had picked them up. That is not uncommon at all; many times we would just walk them up to the front gate of our COP and tell them to leave. The only people behind the vehicle when the individuals were released were: myself, SFC Mayo, SGT Leahy and SGT Evoy, who was in the turret. Everyone else on the patrol was approximately 100-300 meters away.”
The trouble started for Master SGT. Hatley two years later while he was stationed in Germany. SGT. Jesse Cunningham, one of the soldiers on scene, found himself facing serious charges of his own. According to John L. Work’s article on frontpagemag.com:
Sgt. Jesse Cunningham got himself into a jam with the Army for assaulting another non-commissioned officer and for falling asleep at his post – both serious offenses if proven. Under investigation, Cunningham talked to a JAG lawyer and decided to trade what he knew about the 2007 Baghdad shootings to get himself off the hook. He became “the snitch.”
Using Cunningham’s statement, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) extracted confessions from both Leahy and Mayo. Hatley refused to admit having done anything wrong. The military trial was in Vilseck, Germany, from April 13 through 16, 2009.”
“The Sergeants decided they had just about had their fill of Catch and Release, and that these four insurgents were not going free to return to kill and maim Americans. They subsequently drove the four terrorists to a nearby canal, fired one shot each into the backs of their heads, and dumped the dead bodies into the water. Sgt. Jesse Cunningham, seated inside their parked vehicle, apparently watched all of it in the rear-view mirror. The bodies, however, were never found. No local residents reported anyone missing.
Master SGT. Hatley was convicted of premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder. It’s noteworthy that his conviction came only through testimony extracted from men under threat of prosecution. There’s absolutely no forensic, ballistic, physical, or direct evidence of a crime being committed. The CID along with a 7 member US Army Diving team conducted an exhaustive investigation in Iraq and came back without a single shred of evidence of a crime. Furthermore, the Criminal Investigative Division was unable to even confirm that any Iraqi citizens were identified or reported missing!
In light of those facts the court STILL was unwilling to reverse it’s decision, offering a backhanded reduction of SGT Hatley’s sentence from Life to 40 years, which he is currently serving at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.”
This highly decorated soldier who has served in numerous efforts for America is serving a 40 year sentence for a crime that he says he did not commit. Furthermore, CID failed to produce any evidence of the crime. Why Master SGT. Hatley has not been exonerated, reinstated, and released is beyond comprehension. This man is owed a pardon from our President.
Should you want to reach out to Master SGT. Hatley, here is his address.
John E. Hatley 87613
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
This report is part of the DCX series The Leavenworth 10 – Uncommon Injustice