Pardon Evan Vela Carnahan

I still remember, eight long years ago, staying up through the wee hours of the night, watching the confusion of the 2000 Presidential Election. I remember fearing a second round of Bush, due to the pressing thought that we would see war, somehow, if he was elected President....
Eight years later, our country is devastated, financially and spiritually. We are broke and consumed by a war. A war that we should have never taken any part of, (exit - soap box).

Political views aside, there are men and women at home and abroad who's lives have changed. Changed far beyond anything that I could ever comprehend. I am grateful for those who choose to serve our country AND especially those family members who lie in wait for their safe return.
Unfortunately, those who are able to return are left with horrific remnants of their service, some mental, some physical and others judicial.
This is where we meet "Sergeant" Evan Vela Carnahan.

(AP Photo/Bradley Brooks)

Please take a moment to read this excerpt, in honor of those serving, who have served....just read it.

"In May 2007, Staff Sgt. Hensley was leading a five-man sniper unit, which included Sgt. Evan Vela Carnahan, on a pair of back-to-back missions. The unit hiked under the cover of night carrying 150-lb. rucksacks and crossing several marshy canals with chest-high water to reach their destination by dawn. At their destination, they immediately broke into two or three man teams to conduct surveillance all day long in the 120 degree heat, while trying to conserve the three or four liters of water per man they had carried in. Some of the men, in order to just stay mobile and to fight off severe headaches began administering hydrating IV’s. By the end of the second day, in addition to suffering from exhaustion, the men were suffering from dehydration and the effects of acute sleep deprivation. The soldiers were not allowed to sleep more than fifteen minutes at a time, and by the fourth day, the day of the shooting, they had slept no more than 3-4 hours over the previous 78-hour period.

On Friday May 11th, 2007, still deep in hostile territory, the ailing squad consolidated and holed up to try to get a few hours of uninterrupted rest in their “hide”, which is an area where snipers can observe targets without being seen. The “hide” in this case was overlooking a village that was suspected of being controlled by Sunni insurgents. Each man took turns guarding the others for an hour, but despite his best efforts, Sgt. Vela Carnahan fell asleep during his one-hour turn. When Sgt. Vela Carnahan awoke, he found Al-Janabi, an Iraqi national, standing just a few feet from him. Sgt. Vela Carnahan immediately started trying to wake-up the rest of the men, informing them that their position had been compromised. When Staff Sgt. Hensley awoke and understood the seriousness of the situation, he immediately took charge and pinned Al-Janabi to the ground and searched him. Shortly thereafter, Al-Janabi’s 17-year old son followed his father into the “hide” area.

Al-Janabi and his son were held captive by Staff Sgt. Hensley and his men until Staff Sgt. Hensley spotted several Iraqi military-aged men in the distance. Al-Janabi started to become very loud and was thrashing about making a lot of noise and Staff Sgt. Hensley became concerned that Al-Janabi would alert the other Iraqi’s in the area. Staff Sgt. Hensley testified that Al-Janabi was making too much noise and he thought the only way to protect his men was to take Al-Janabi’s life. He released Al-Janabi’s son and ordered everyone except Sgt. Vela Carnahan to leave. Staff Sgt. Hensley then ordered Sgt. Vela Carnahan to load his 9-millimeter pistol and made four calls to command post to support a cover story. After completing the calls, Staff Sgt. Hensley ordered Sgt. Vela Carnahan to fire, and Sgt. Vela Carnahan being a sniper who was conditioned to pull the trigger on the order to shoot, reflexively complied.

After the shooting, Staff Sgt. Hensley pulled out an AK-47, a weapon favored by insurgents, and placed it near Al-Janabi’s body. At Sgt. Evan Vela Carnahan’s trial, Sgt. Hensley testified, “It wasn’t uncommon for us to have to plant stuff like that out there” and that they often carried incriminating items to plant on Iraqi’s as “insurance”, in case they needed to create a cover story for American investigators after a shooting. The “insurance” was needed, because even though their superiors were pressing the squad to increase their kill rate, they held out the threat of prosecution for “unjust shootings” based upon Rules of Engagement. These Rules of Engagement are frightening our soldiers into having to carry “insurance” because of their fear that they will be charged by their own Country with murder or war crimes for making decisions to defend themselves.

The Army CID investigation of the shooting of Al-Janabi was initiated in June 2007.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley was tried in Bagdad and acquitted of murder but convicted of planting evidence. He was sentenced to 135 days confinement, which was equal to time served, received a letter of reprimand, and was reduced in rank to Sergeant.

Sgt. Evan Vela Carnahan’s trial was held in Bagdad shortly after Staff Sgt. Hensley’s trial. High-ranking members of the Iraqi government and Al-Janabi’s son attended the trial on a daily basis, and Curtis Carnahan believes that their presence influenced the panel in reaching the final verdict. Sgt. Vela Carnahan was convicted of murder without premeditation, aiding and abetting in the planting of evidence, and of lying to military investigators about the incident. He was sentenced to 10-years in Prison."

Evan Unit
(AP Photo/Bradley Brooks)

This story is not alone. There are others, but this is one you are aware of and can do something about (Me? Really?)
President George W. Bush is getting ready to retire (hold your applause, please), with that comes the customary time to grant pardons. This is where you come in. YOU CAN WRITE A PARDON LETTER, IF YOU FEEL THAT THIS SENTENCING IS UNJUST.
It is that simple.
Short and sweet could possibly free a man and reunite him with his wife and two children.

If you decided to do so, please mail (snail mail still exists, doesn't it?) to:
Natasha Siepert
372 E Carver Drive
Meridian, Idaho 83646

Directions for the letter:
· Address your letter President Bush.
· Please state in your letter that it is in reference to Sgt. Evan Vela, who is Prisoner Reg No. 84486 confined at the Army Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
· State what you think of Evan’s situation, how you may know him and/or heard of his story.
· Request to Pardon Evan. Explain your feelings on why Evan should be pardon.
· Please add anything you would like to the letter.

Any questions, email Natasha at

If you desire more information concerning this story, it has been covered by our media a bit - links:

Esquire Magazine July 2008
New York Times
LA Times
New York Daily News
War Chronicle
Hannity's America Transcript 02/17/08
Evan's Website

Thank You for taking a moment no matter your opinion...Heather.