Looks awful, but I’m suspicious that it’s as bad as it seems given Fox’s misleading headline: “Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist.” That makes it sound like the act of capturing him is the offense here, which would be insane even by the Army’s Nidal-Hasan standards of political correctness.

But that’s not what happened. They’re being charged for allegedly giving him a beating and covering it up.

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com…

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it…

[A SEAL witness] told investigators he had showered after the mission, gone to the kitchen and then decided to look in on the detainee.

“I gave the detainee a glance over and then left,” the SEAL wrote. “I did not notice anything wrong with the detainee and he appeared in good health.”…

United States Central Command declined to discuss the detainee, but a legal source told FoxNews.com that the detainee was turned over to Iraqi authorities, to whom he made the abuse complaints. He was then returned to American custody. The SEAL leader reported the charge up the chain of command, and an investigation ensued.

I like Goldfarb’s take: “A fat lip? That’s enough to get you rough military justice from the Obama administration, but blow up the World Trade Center and you get all the due process rights of the civilian criminal justice system.” Even so, the fact that this turd got the Iraqi authorities involved may have left Central Command with little choice here. The last thing the military needs right now is another detainee-abuse headache, especially with some Iraqi pols already leaning on them about withdrawal. Giving the SEALs a zero-tolerance wrist slap reminds other troops not to do anything more seriously stupid that might be exploited politically. And it will be a wrist slap, I’m sure: The last thing The One needs after shipping KSM off to NYC for his close-up is the image of SEALs being hauled off to prison for busting some jihadi in the face. In fact, according to Fox, the SEALs requested a court-martial rather than nonjudicial punishment, presumably because they know full well how awful this looks for the military. Prediction: Wrist slap.

Tags: Barack Obama