Michael Waddington

Michael Waddington

Michael Stewart Waddington (born September 20, 1974, and raised in New Castle, Pennsylvania) is an American Criminal Defense lawyer specializing in serious felonies, court martial cases, and war crimes.

Bagram Abuse Cases
Michael Waddington gained international recognition for his defense of SGT Alan Driver at Fort Bliss, Texas in February 2006. Waddington was an Army Captain and JAG defense lawyer when he represented SGT Driver. SGT Driver was court martialed for allegedly abusing detainees captured in the "War on Terror" who were held at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, in 2002. Driver was charged with beating a Taliban Division Commander known as Habibullah, who the Army says died of his injuries. He was also accused of throwing a shackled and handcuffed prisoner, Omar al-Faruq, against a wall. Faruq was the top al-Qaida deputy for Southeast Asia with a long history of terrorism.

Waddington was scrutinized by the military when he forced the U.S. Army to publicly reveal that Faruq had escaped from U.S. custody. The escape created an international incident during which President George Bush dispatched then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Indonesia to apologize for the escape and the fact that the U.S. hid the escape from Indonesian authorities. Prior to his confinement at Bagram, Faruq was captured by the Indonesian's and temporarily handed over to the U.S. for interrogations.

At trial, SGT Driver was fully acquitted of all charges after less than 15 minutes of jury deliberations. After the case, Waddington resigned his officer commission and became a civilian defense lawyer to continue to fight for servicemembers' rights. The Bagram Abuse Cases were the subject of the film, "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won an Academy Award in 2007 for "Best Documentary Film."

Operation Iron Triangle Triple Murder - "Kill 'em All"
In June 2006, Waddington was in private legal practice when he was called on to defend SPC William B. Hunsaker in a triple murder case. Four soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were accused of executing suspected al-Qaida insurgents that were captured during a raid near Samarra, Iraq on 9 May 2006. The case made international headlines when evidence revealed that SPC Hunsaker's commander, COL Michael D. Steele, gave orders to "kill all military age males" on the objective. The objective was a confirmed al-Qaida training compound, visited by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. COL Steele is an officer who once commanded a Ranger company sent into Mogadishu, Somalia, on a rescue mission that was recounted in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."

Waddington and other defense lawyers, including Paul Bergrin, defended the four soldiers in court proceedings in Tikrit, Iraq and Fort Campbell, KY. After 8 months of legal battles, SPC Juston Graber, one of the accused, entered into an agreement with the prosecution to testify against SPC Hunsaker and the other defendants. Facing a mandatory life sentence, SPC Hunsaker and PFC Corey Clagett, another defendant, entered plea deals that reduced their maximum sentence to 18 years, making them eligible for parole after 5½ years. At SPC Hunsaker's guilty plea, he told the military judge that by killing three al-Qaida operatives, he believes that he was saving American lives and his actions were a "lesser evil for the greater good."

Meanwhile, COL Steele received a letter of reprimand for his actions and was granted immunity from the 101st Airborne Division Commander. The Iron Triangle cases were the subject of the 2008 book, "Rules of Engagement? Operation Iron Triangle," by Stjepan Meštrović.

Family slaughtered in the Mahmudiyah incident, Iraq
Waddington served "of counsel" in the defense of SGT Anthony W. Yribe, a soldier implicated in alleged crimes committed in Mahmoudiya, Iraq on 12 March 2006. Yribe was charged with failing to report the attack but is not alleged to have been a direct participant. SGT Yribe's team was led by Army CPT Juan Roman. Waddington provided legal consultation and advice to the defense team and SGT Yribe. Yribe was the only soldier charged in the incident to avoid a conviction and jail time. The 2007 fictional movie Redacted (film) is loosely based upon the events at Mahmudiyah. The film was written and directed by Brian De Palma, the director of Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, Carlito's Way, The Untouchables, and Mission: Impossible.

Allegations of Detainee Abuse at the Battle of Fallajah, Iraq
In February 2007, Waddington was called to defend an Army Sergeant, SFC Timothy Drake, of allegations of using a baseball bat to beat enemy insurgents captured at the 2003 Battle of Fallajah, Iraq. SFC Drake was a member of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury) in Iraq. The media and Human Rights Watch dubbed Drake the leader of the "The Murderous Maniacs." Drake fought the charges at a jury trial and the Military Judge dismissed the skull fracture charge. Drake was then acquitted of aggravated assault with a bat, obstruction of justice, solicitation, and assault by kicking. He was convicted of misdemeanor battery and lying to CID. He was sentenced to a the lowest possible sentence in military law, a Reprimand. He received no jail time, no fine, no reduction, and was retained on active duty.

Murder Allegations in Kirkuk, Iraq
In July 2007, Waddington was called to defend an Army Specialist Christopher P. Shore of a premeditated murder allegation. He faced life in prison. The charges stemmed from a June 23, 2007 raid near Kirkuk, Iraq where Shore's platoon of elite Army Scouts conducted a night time raid into enemy territory. Their mission was to take down a confirmed cell of Iraqi insurgents responsible for the roadside bombings of U.S. troop convoys. SPC Shore, a GA native, led the assault team into the building. By the end of the raid, one insurgent was mortally wounded and several others were captured. SPC Shore is charged with shooting the detainee after his platoon leader, SFC Trey A. Corrales, shot him with an M-4 rifle.

Waddington and Army defense lawyer Major Javier Rivera fought the murder charge in front of an Army jury of officers and enlisted soldiers. SPC Shore was acquitted of murder and convicted of discharging his weapon near the detainee (assault). He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, a reprimand, a 2 rank reduction, and no discharge. Shore will continue to serve in the U.S. Army.

After 72 days of confinement, the commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Brig. General Michael Bednarek, released SPC Shore from prison and deferred his remaining sentence. On May 21, 2008, Bednarek reduced Shore's conviction to simple assault, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of 90 days in jail. The change erased Shore's felony record. The General also reduced Shore's jail time to "time-served" and restored Shore to his former rank of Specialist. At the end of May 2008, Shore was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and continues to serve in the Army.

Rape Allegation at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland

In March 2008, Waddington was called to defend a third year Naval Academy Midshipman accused of breaking into the room of a fellow midshipman and raping her. The accused contested the charges at an Article 32 preliminary hearing at the Washington Naval Yard in April 2008. Waddington and his team of Navy defense lawyers, LT Paul Jenkins and LT Maryann Bridges, attacked the NCIS investigation as sloppy and pointed to a lack of physical, forensic, and scientific evidence and contradicting witness testimony in an attempt to disprove the allegations.

The Investigating Officer wrote a 20 page opinion recommending that the court martial charges be dismissed. On June 3, 2008, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler dismissed all court martial charges against the midshipman.

A Case of Preemptive Self-Defense During the Iraqi "Surge"

In August 2008, Waddington, along with Army defense lawyer, Major Peter Kageleiry, were called to defend an Army infantryman, SFC Joseph Mayo, accused of murdering four Iraqi snipers that were caught in Baghdad during "the Surge." Multiple soldiers from the unit was charged in connection with the alleged shooting. Mayo's unit was living "amongst the citizens" as part of the surge in an attempt to quell violence in the streets. His unit came under constant attack for weeks at a time by sniper fire, IEDs, and mortars, suffering multiple deaths and casualties. When his unit captured insurgents during gun battles, they would turn them over to American or Iraqi law enforcement, who would then release the insurgents within 10–14 days under the "catch and release" program where insurgents are returned to the streets within a short period time due to bed shortages.

According to Army documents, the insurgent sniper team that was responsible for the deaths of more than 5 U.S servicemembers was captured by the infantry Platoon involved in this case and allegedly shot and dumped into a Baghdad canal when members of the platoon realized that they would be released once turned in to authorities.


  1. ^ Golden, Tim (May 20, 2005). "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/20/international/asia/20abuse.html?ex=1274241600&en=4579c146cb14cfd6&ei=5088.  (About war crimes in Bagram.)
  2. ^ Golden, Tim (May 22, 2005). "Army Faltered in Investigating Detainee Abuse". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/22/international/asia/22abuse.html?ex=1274414400&en=35951e72c65a2185&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.  (More about war crimes in Bagram.)
  3. ^ Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Mohammed Sulaymon Barre's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 30–37
  4. ^ Shanker, Thom (October 15, 2004). "28 soldiers tied to 2 Afghan deaths" (reprint New York Times). http://www.ccmep.org/2004_articles/general/101504_28_soldiers.htm. 
  5. ^ "A look at the soldiers accused in Afghanistan abuse investigation". Akron Beacon Journal. December 5, 2005. http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/13336682.htm. 
  6. ^ "UN Condemns Torture of Afghans". CRI Online. May 22, 2005. http://en.chinabroadcast.cn/2239/2005-5-22/138@239455.htm. 
  7. ^ "Patterns of Abuse". Editorial (New York Times). May 23, 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/23/opinion/23mon1.html. 
  8. ^ "McCain Amendment roll call". http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00249. 
  9. ^ Profile: Omar al-Farouq, BBC, September 25, 2006
  10. ^ US resumes arms trading with Islam's 'voice of moderation', The Times, November 24, 2005
  11. ^ CIA-recruited Al Qaeda Agent Omar al-Faruq Escapes from US Military Prison in Afghanistan, Guerilla News Network, November 6, 2005
  12. ^ Confessions of an al-Qaeda Terrorist, Time (magazine), September 15, 2002
  13. ^ Top al Qaeda figure killed in Iraq, Reuters, September 25, 2006
  14. ^ The 'Band of Brothers' Unravels - Soldier Accused of Civilian Murders Defends His Actions
  15. ^ Soldier Pleads Guilty to Iraq Murders
  16. ^ Officers Allegedly Pushed Kill Counts Investigators believe the leaders of a unit accused in Iraq detainee deaths fueled a climate of hate.
  17. ^ HRW - Leadership Failure in 82nd Airborne.
  18. ^ Army Says Improper Orders By Colonel Led to 4 Deaths.
  19. ^ Michael Waddington - Criminal Lawyer Military Defense Attorney Law Firm Web Site.
  20. http://www.ksat.com/news/13710658/detail.html?rss=ant&psp=news
  21. http://abqtrib.com/news/2007/jul/19/soldiers-facing-murder-charges-stemming-iraq-event/
  22. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/19/world/middleeast/19cnd-iraq.html
  23. ^ Officers Allegedly Pushed Kill Counts Investigators believe the leaders of a unit accused in Iraq detainee deaths fueled a climate of hate.
  24. ^ Lawyer fights to win his battles, Augusta Chronicle, March 20, 2006
  25. ^ Reprint of Augusta Chronicle Article of Court Martial of SGT Driver - Lawyer fights to win his battles, Augusta Chronicle, March 20, 2006
  26. ^ Winder soldier sentenced to 120 days for Iraqi's death
  27. ^ Georgia soldier released while clemency weighed - Reprint from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - May 3, 2008
  28. ^ Charge, Sentence reduced for Specialist tried in Iraqi death - Reprint from The Associated Press - May 21, 2008
  29. ^ No court-martial for midshipman accused of rape - Reprint from The Associated Press - June 3, 2008
  30. ^ U.S. Soldiers Charged in Iraqi Deaths - October 2, 2008
  31. ^ Taxi to the Dark Side Movie Details: IMDB.com
  32. ^ The Good Soldier on Trial: A Sociological Study of Misconduct by the US Military Pertaining to Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq
  33. ^ Rules of Engagement? A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime. Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq
  34. ^ Redacted Movie Details: IMDB.com

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