Sunday, January 11, 2009

Idaho: Support for Vela

January 6, 2009
President George W. Bush
The White House, West Wing
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Ref: Sgt. Evan Vela, Prisoner Reg No. 84486

Dear President Bush:

I write this letter in support of the commutation request of Sergeant Evan Vela, a constituent of mine from the state of Idaho assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He is currently confined at the Army Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

I have been in contact with members of Sergeant Vela's family and members of his community throughout Vela's court trial and sentencing. Like them, I was concerned with the circumstances surrounding his case and the ten-year prison sentence that he received. According to my constituents, Sgt. Vela followed an order from his superior on the reasonable premise that his unit's position would be compromised. Among the co-accused, Sgt. Vela received the harshest punishment.

Sgt. Vela volunteered to serve his country in a time of war and fought to protect our freedoms behind enemy lines in a violent and stressful environment. Our servicemen face difficult and often confusing choices everyday on the battlefield, and Sgt. Vela's situation is not unique. I am concerned that he is shouldering the blame and playing the role of scapegoat for following orders throughout a series of tragic events that occurred during a time of war.

There are a number of mitigating factors and extenuating circumstances in this case that make a compelling argument for commutation, and in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, I urge you to take into account those factors and circumstances as you consider his request.I sincerely appreciate your attention and expeditious consideration of my letter in support of the request for commutation of Sgt. Evan Vela.

Mike Simpson
Member of Congress

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