President Donald Trump’s has chosen to grant clemency to three service members accused or convicted of war crimes, overruling current military leaders who sought to prosecute them and that decision is bringing about STRONG reactions from our military and veteran communities.
In the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, Trump restored his rank after he had been demoted because he took a picture with the CORPSE of a teenage ISIS fighter. Yeah, you read all that right.
Trump also intervened for Army Lt. Clint Lorance. Lorance was serving a sentence because he instructed his platoon to fire at unarmed Afghan men, leaving two of them dead. Trump then stepped up for Army Green Beret Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who was charged with murdering an unarmed Afghan man and then digging up and burning the body.
In a recent New York Times report, the reaction of Navy SEALs and other veterans to Trump’s intervention in Gallagher’s case were featured. Gallagher had been found not guilty during his highly unusual murder trial, which featured the removal of the chief prosecutor, who was accused of spying on the defense, among other things.
Eric Deming, a retired master chief petty officer and Navy SEAL, told the NYT, “Most guys just want him to shut up and go away,” but said that Gallagher made a “spectacle of himself” during the intense case.
More recently in the news from the Gallagher case, Navy Sec. Richard Spencer was fired after Trump called for Gallagher to retain his SEAL Trident. Officials within the Navy had suggested and saw fit for Gallagher to face a review board that would hear his case and then make recommendations on how to proceed, however, that review board has now been cancelled.
Deming continued, speaking of Gallagher, “He could have handled it like a quiet professional… If the facts are on his side, he should trust in a board to make the right decision.”
Gallagher has actually appeared on Fox News promoting a clothing line since Trump said he would restore his rank.
Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ed Hiner, who served with SEALs, disagrees, however, with Deming. He said, “From the beginning, Eddie was denied the presumption of innocence. And when he won at trial, the Navy tried to get back at him. He did eight combat deployments. He deserves better.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap, told Military Times that he doesn’t think Trump’s actions will have much effect on the troops. He said, “I’ve actually never heard of anyone contemplating committing a crime including the remote possibility of a pardon into their calculation as to whether or not they’ll carry out their plan.”
But Adrian Bonenberger, as Army veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan, told Business Insider, “Overall, I think active-duty service members probably feel confused by the pardons… It has done damage to the soul of the military, of that there can be no question.”
Brandon Friedman, a writer and Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan said, “Donald Trump has in effect politicized active-duty troops.”
Friedman made a good point on the uncomfortable political strife this has created, he said, “If you oppose war criminals, you’re on the opposite side of the president.”
Bonenberger spoke to the public appearances the recently pardoned service members are making, saying, “It is certainly unwise of Gallagher and the others to speak in public on what has become a political issue while still on active duty.”
Friedman also took issue, as should the rest of the world, with the shocking way Trump preempted the administrative review board that was set to determine whether Gallagher could remain a SEAL. This should alarm EVERYONE. Friedman said, “Now the president can decide who is what in the military… That’s the kind of thing that banana republics do.”
“Now the president can decide who is what in the military… That’s the kind of thing that banana republics do.”
Friedman also has concerns for that this does to the US military’s reputation on the battlefield, saying, “It sends the message that the Americans aren’t the good guys.”
Friedman continued, “It sends the message that if you kill civilians, you can get away with it.”
“Boneberger said, It’s sad… With their pardon, they had an opportunity to behave wisely and honorably and in so doing truly rebut the charges against them. Thus far, they’ve done everything to ensure that they are seen instead as cynical, ‘me-first’ individuals, out for themselves, totally out of step with fundamental military values.”