Trump pardons servicemembers in high profile war crimes cases

Trump pardons servicemembers in high profile war crimes cases Trump pardons servicemembers in high profile war crimes cases

FeaturedWIB politics November 18, 2019 0

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump intervened in three war crimes cases Friday, pardoning a former soldier convicted of second-degree murder and an Army major... Trump pardons servicemembers in high profile war crimes cases

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump intervened in three war crimes cases Friday, pardoning a former soldier convicted of second-degree murder and an Army major charged with executing a man suspected of being a Taliban bomb-maker.

Trump granted a pardon to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, currently serving a 19-year sentence for ordering soldiers to fire on unarmed Afghan civilians, two of whom died. He also granted a pardon to Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, charged with killing suspected a bombmaker.

The president also reversed the demotion of Edward Gallagher, a Navy Seal accused of using a knife to kill a teenage Islamic State prisoner in Iraq, and of other killings of civilians. Gallagher was found not guilty of the most serious charges in July but was found guilty of posing for a photo with a human casualty.



Trump has described the men as heroes operating in difficult circumstances and the cases became a cause celebre among conservatives. Critics say the pardons set a bad precedent, signaling the U.S. won’t honor military conventions and international law.

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long,” Trump told reporters earlier this year. “You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight, sometimes they get, really, treated very unfairly.”

Trump has granted a number of controversial pardons with political overtones, including conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby. In the first presidential pardon of a convicted murderer in modern history, he pardoned former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna in May.



Behenna was convicted by a military court of killing an unarmed suspected al Qaeda captive who had been stripped naked before being shot.

According to prosecutors, Gallagher’s fellow SEALs became so disturbed with his killings of civilians that they tampered with his sniper rifle to make it less accurate, and would also fire warning shots at civilians to prevent Gallagher from shooting at them.

Gallagher had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, the White House said. Though acquitted on the most serious charges, he was stripped of those honors. “Given his service to our nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified,” the White House said.



Golsteyn was charged with executing a man suspected of being a Taliban bombmaker who had been ordered to be released after an interrogation.

Golsteyn said he shot the man because he was certain his bomb-making would “continue to threaten American troops and their Afghan partners,” the White House said. In a tweet last year, Trump described Golsteyn as a “U.S. military hero.”

Lorance was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder after he ordered his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom died.



“The United States military justice system helps ensure good order and discipline for our millions of uniformed military members and holds to account those who violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” the White House said in a statement Friday. “Due in part to this system, we have the most disciplined, most effective, most respected, and most feared fighting force in the world.”

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