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Trump pardons Army officers, restores Navy SEAL's rank, in war crimes cases

26 Comments
By Idrees Ali

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq, a move critics have said would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities will be tolerated.

The White House said in a statement Trump granted full pardons to First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Major Mathew Golsteyn, and ordered that the rank Edward Gallagher held before he was convicted in a military trial this year be restored.

"For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history," the statement said.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the Department of Defense has confidence in the military justice system.

"The President is part of the military justice system as the Commander-in-Chief and has the authority to weigh in on matters of this nature," the spokesperson said.

In recent weeks, Pentagon officials had spoken with Trump about the cases, provided facts and emphasized the due process built into the military justice system.

In 2013, prosecutors accused Lorance of illegally ordering the fatal shootings of two men on motorcycles while on patrol in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. He was found guilty of two counts of murder.

Last year, Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged with murdering an Afghan man during a 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.

Gallagher, a decorated SEAL team platoon leader, was accused of committing various war crimes while deployed in Iraq in 2017.

In July, a military jury acquitted him of murdering a captured Islamic State fighter by stabbing the wounded prisoner in the neck, but it convicted him of illegally posing with the detainee's corpse. That had led to his rank being reduced.

In May, Trump talked about how he was considering pardons for U.S. troops charged with war crimes, a move he acknowledged would be controversial but that he said was justified because they had been treated "unfairly."

The overwhelming majority of pardons are granted to people who have already been convicted and served time for a federal offense.

But presidents have occasionally granted pardons preemptively to individuals accused of or suspected of a crime.

The most famous such case was the blanket pardon President Gerald Ford bestowed on his predecessor, Richard Nixon, after Nixon's resignation during the Watergate scandal in 1974.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments

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I don't agree with pardons for murder.

I can support a pardon for someone who may have contributed extraordinary service in their life for something less that murder.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Using his favorite ploy of handing out get-out-of-jail-free cards is just another attempt by the desperate Trump to change the news cycle and distract attention from his personal problems. As if this clueless "armchair general" had any knowledge or understanding of these war crime cases.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Absolutely disgraceful. He is also so stupid that he believes members of the military will honor this shameful action, not condemn it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Ironic that he's pardoning criminals.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Leave this to the military courts to judge and sentence. U.S. presidents have no business getting involved with U.S. military court judgments & sentences.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The current occupant of the White House is a disgrace. One again, he proved is not fit to be President of the United States of America (POTUS).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As someone who spent 27 years in the military, this will not go over well with our troops. They can't stand these folks who bring shame on the rest of us.

They know there are rotten apples in every barrel and they want them identified, kicked out, and held accountable.

Letting them off the hook like this just excuses their actions.

Another slam at our military by the team that just says they're "expendable"...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

They can't stand these folks who bring shame on the rest of us.

Not true at all. In the case of Gallagher, it was the Navy that protected him. Not a huge fan of SEALs, but it appears the special warfare community closed ranks and helped him get acquitted.

The Army also was involved in such atrocities in the Mai Lai massacre in Viet Nam. Same deal, many closed ranks and protected. Having served also, I know that you cant convict the government.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

But presidents have occasionally granted pardons preemptively to individuals accused of or suspected of a crime.

Go ahead Mr. President D.J. Trump, pardon yourself already in advance.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

War is best avoided at all costs, and messy even when waged justly, and I'm thankful that President Trump generally wants to avoid it. But pardoning military personnel who abuse thier mandate and purposefully kill innocents is not right.

I'm guessing that Trump views these incidents as simply the unavoidable cost of necessary military intervention and that the patriotic thing to do is pardon. I don't agree.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They can't stand these folks who bring shame on the rest of us.

Not true at all. In the case of Gallagher, it was the Navy that protected him. Not a huge fan of SEALs, but it appears the special warfare community closed ranks and helped him get acquitted.

Newsflash - the article is about Trump pardoning them...not who protected them....

The Army also was involved in such atrocities in the Mai Lai massacre in Viet Nam. Same deal, many closed ranks and protected. Having served also, I know that you cant convict the government.

So? Calley was court-martialed and neither Johnson or Nixon pardoned him...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Newsflash: Trump did not acquit, the Navy did. Trump specifically said, that he would let the courts deal with it.

Restoring a 1st Class to a Chief is not such a leap

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Gallagher was probably a monster, and went off the rails and IMO deserves some time in Leavenworth. The SEAL community doesnt seem to have the same, shall I say, discipline, that the USMC does as they are not an infantry organization. Its much bigger than Gallagher however, extended deployments, lack of organizational structure and command, mixing this with that, etc. Shouldnt be putting commandos in with grunts, breaks up the cohesion. Operation Redwing? Just my observation. Dont blame the president.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This power of pardon is a weird one. Why should people whom society has convicted, then be pardoned? It's basically a spit in the face of the lawyers and courts who spend years discussing the issue to come up with a determination of guilt, which is often then reviewed and re-reviewed in appeals, and some yahoo can come in and say 'whatever, let him go'?

Although I suppose it offers hope to people in a country that uses imprisonment as a means of controlling the citizenship. The idea that somehow they could be the potentially be the recipients of a pardon if they gott the bad luck of the draw and were thrown in jail probably gives hope. If you remove all hope, it's harder to control the people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Newsflash: Trump did not acquit, the Navy did. Trump specifically said, that he would let the courts deal with it.

Ummmm.....

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Pardoning cold blooded killers....mmm

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Newsflash: Trump did not acquit, the Navy did. Trump specifically said, that he would let the courts deal with it.

Dont blame the president.

May I suggest you go back and read the title of the article....

Trump pardons Army officers, restores Navy SEAL's rank, in war crimes cases

4 ( +4 / -0 )

may I suggest you and your friend go back and re read the article. I never mentioned the Army, I said the Navy, specifically Gallagher. Gallagher had no reason to be pardoned, he was found not guilty of anything significant at his CM;

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq, a move critics have said would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities will be tolerated.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Well, tracking back I can see how you would think that. But the problem came in your comment here:

Newsflash: Trump did not acquit, the Navy did.

You left out the Gallagher part, and you're speaking on a story where two people were pardoned, as a person who speaks right-wing bubble-speak all the time. Our misunderstanding was a result of your lack of clarity, and your hyper-partisan bias.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A slap in the face for all the honorable soldiers who serve the country bravely without having to resort to war crimes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A slap in the face for all the honorable soldiers who serve the country bravely without having to resort to war crimes.

Well, at least those who have done war crimes of their own can sleep a little easier tonight.

Oh, wait...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Newsflash: Trump did not acquit, the Navy did.

You left out the Gallagher part, and you're speaking on a story where two people were pardoned, as a person who speaks right-wing bubble-speak all the time. Our misunderstanding was a result of your lack of clarity, and your hyper-partisan bias.

speaking of bubble speak...yours is a kind of a nonsensical reply; why do I need to include Gallagher, when he is the only member mentioned who was in the Navy? a first LT and Major are Army ranks, not Navy. For us who served, Gallaghers story is well known

Do the time, then comment.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

may I suggest you and your friend go back and re read the article. I never mentioned the Army, I said the Navy, specifically Gallagher. Gallagher had no reason to be pardoned, he was found not guilty of anything significant at his CM;

I think you need to follow your own advice...note it doesn't say Navy here, it says Trump...

*The White House said in a statement Trump granted full pardons to First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Major Mathew Golsteyn, *and ordered that the rank Edward Gallagher held before he was convicted in a military trial this year be restored.

So attempt to explain to us again why the Navy, and not Trump, is responsible for restoring his rank....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Absolutely disgraceful.

Why?

He is also so stupid that he believes members of the military will honor this shameful action, not condemn it.

Yeah, but who cares what they think, we didn’t elect them to be policy makers and represent the people.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

speaking of bubble speak...yours is a kind of a nonsensical reply;

Why so mad about Hillary bro?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He is also so stupid that he believes members of the military will honor this shameful action, not condemn it.

Yeah, but who cares what they think, we didn’t elect them to be policy makers and represent the people.

More scorn and hatred of our military - "who cares what they think"...

All patriotic Americans care what they think and care about them as they defend our freedom for our enemies...

its just absolutely disgusting how Trumpers disparage and insult our military heroes...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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