- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 29, 2009

The United States Navy has betrayed its own. The names of the victims are Petty Officer Matthew McCabe, Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe and Petty Officer Julio Huertas.

They are Navy Seals, part of an elite commando unit, who recently captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq - the accused mastermind of the 2004 infamous war crime in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Ahmed Hashim Abed. Mr. Abed is said to have ordered the assassination of four Blackwater USA security guards.

These security guards - all of them Americans - were slaughtered in an ambush, their bodies then burned and mutilated as they were dragged through the streets of Fallujah. Two were later hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River, dangling from a noose so the world press could photograph them.

Mr. Abed also has spearheaded insurgent attacks against U.S. soldiers. His jihadists are responsible for murdering innocent Iraqi civilians - many of them women and children.

The three Seals should have been given a medal for their brave actions. Instead, they face court-martial. They will be separately arraigned in a military court on Dec. 7. Their trials will take place in January.

Their crime: They purportedly punched Abed, giving him a bloody lip. They face prison time because their actions constituted “assault,” thereby rising to the level of possible “detainee abuse.” The U.S. military is determined not to have another Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Navy authorities fear Mr. Abed’s allegations of “abuse” and “torture” could embarrass America, undermining our public outreach to the Islamic world.

The three Seals are being sacrificed on the altar of liberal multiculturalism. They are being smeared and treated as criminals for - at worst - doing the equivalent of what hockey players regularly do: smack somebody in the mouth.

Moreover, they may not have even laid a hand on Mr. Abed. Al Qaeda terrorists have been ordered by Osama bin Laden to claim torture once in U.S. custody - even if it means inflicting self-abuse. The goal is to continue jihad within the prison system, presenting America as a nation that violates human rights and oppresses Muslims. It is part of radical Islam’s propaganda playbook. Hence, Mr. Abed just as likely hit himself, claiming his captors did it.

Yet even if one of the Seals did punch him, big deal. They are not police officers arresting a U.S. citizen; they are warriors who apprehended a mass-murdering foreign terrorist - someone with American blood on his hands. Mr. Abed does not deserve to be treated with kid gloves. He is not entitled to have his Miranda rights read. If Mr. Abed is tough enough to massacre Americans, behead Iraqi civilians and wage a brutal insurgency, he certainly can take a punch. Had the three Seals been captured by Mr. Abed’s forces, a bloody lip would be the least of their problems.

The fact that these brave men now face court-marital is emblematic of our military’s inability to successfully prosecute the war on terror. We are no longer able to distinguish real and fake abuse. The rights of terrorists take precedence over the rights of U.S. soldiers. Any bogus claim of “abuse” can be used to legally harass American troops.

Moreover, our service members are expected to confront fanatical, ruthless jihadists in a hostile environment under strict rules of engagement. They are subject to regular roadside bombings, sniper attacks, ambushes and a cowardly enemy that blends into the civilian population. Yet the military brass is more interested in a public-relations campaign aimed at winning Arab sympathy rather than providing our soldiers with the support they need to win.

America has become so overly sensitive about massaging world Muslim opinion it is no longer able to defeat the rampaging Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars have evolved into protracted military quagmires.

During World War II, the United States razed German cities to the ground. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was total war for total victory - regardless of the cost to German and Japanese civilians. Today, it is the opposite: a partial, inhibited war with no vision for victory. Our troops are being betrayed by their military and political leaders.

Our perverse military culture now targets its heroes, while promoting and turning a blind eye to a homegrown terrorist such as Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. For years, Maj. Hasan publicly acknowledged his sympathy for jihadism before the massacre for which he is accused was committed at Fort Hood. The result was 14 dead (including an unborn child) and 29 wounded in the worst terrorist atrocity on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Army’s knee-jerk reaction, however, was to defend “diversity.”

“Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength,” said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff. “And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

No, it isn’t. What is worse is how the virus of political correctness has infected our military - to the point, where our Islamic outreach efforts have descended into the theater of the absurd.

Diversity is not our strength; unity is - unity of purpose, will and commitment. We used to know that.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute in Washington. He is the daily radio host of the “Kuhner Show” on WTNT 570-AM (www.talk570.com) from noon until 3 p.m.