How's Trump Sh*tting On The Troops This Memorial Day? Get A Load Of THIS!
Donald Trump knows how to honor the highest values of the military that he very carefully avoided serving in. Sionce he never got that great big Kim Jong Un military parade he wanted, how about celebrating Memorial Day by pardoning a bunch of US military personnel who have been accused or convicted -- by the US military justice system! -- of war crimes? That ought to send a message to the troops: You can do what you want, go hog wild and butcher some civilians, and you'll be celebrated as a "hero." Maybe Trump could give William Calley a belated* Medal of Honor while he's at it, to bind up old wounds. Can treason trials for John Kerry and Jane Fonda be far behind?
The New York Times reports the White House sent the Justice Department a request to expedite pardon paperwork for several convicted war crimers and for one who hasn't even gone on trial yet, Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who was accused by his own men of firing rockets randomly into civilian neighborhoods in Afghanistan, murdering an old man and a little girl with sniper fire, and stabbing a teenage detainee to death. In addition, Trump may also pardon Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, a Green Beret who was convicted of murdering an Iraqi civilian; Blackwater contractor Nicholas A. Slatten, the only one of several mercenaries whose conviction stood after they murdered a bunch of Iraqi civilians; and those nice Marines who were court-martialed for urinating on the corpses of some Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, because how can that be a war crime, they were already dead and Muslims have done bad things too.
This would be Trump's second pardon of American war criminals if he goes through with it.
Navy SEALs who served with Chief Gallagher told authorities he indiscriminately shot at civilians, gunning down a young woman in a flowered hijab and an unarmed old man. They also said he stabbed a teenage captive, then bragged about it in text messages. His trial is set to start at the end of this month. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all charges.
Major Golsteyn is charged with killing an Afghan man that he and other soldiers said had bomb-making materials. After an interrogation, the soldiers let the man go. Fearing that the man would return to making improvised explosives, which had already killed two Marines in the area, Major Golsteyn later said he killed the man.
Somewhere, Hugh Thompson, the hero who placed himself and his helicopter crew between Vietnamese civilians and William Calley's troops during the My Lai massacre, must be plotting a good haunting. He died in 2006 after finally being honored in 1998 for doing the right thing. (One of his crewmates received the honor posthumously.)
For some reason, the potential pardons have upset a whole bunch of liberal squishes who know nothing about the realities of military life .(It is like a prep school but with shooting sometimes. Oh, hold on, schools have that now, too.) Buncha hippie beatniks like retired military judge Gary Solis, who served in Vietnam with an armor unit while Donald Trump was playing baseball with bone spurs. Solis told the Times,
These are all extremely complicated cases that have gone through a careful system of consideration. A freewheeling pardon undermines that whole system [...] It raises the prospect in the minds of the troops that says, "Whatever we do, if we can get the folks back home behind us, maybe we can get let off."
Why yes, that is generally what happens anyway, but now nobody has to worry too much about military justice no matter what kinds of horrific massacres they perpetrate, because someone on Fox News will always be there to explain why the civilians had it coming.
You know who really brings dishonor to the military? Those finks who testify to what their comrades in arms did, probably.
Also this one unnamed combat veteran who texted CNN's Jake Tapper to say maybe pardoning war crimers is actually not a very good way to mark Memorial Day. What a wimp!
Pardoning convicted war criminals is a slap in the face to everyone who fought honorably. To everyone who didn't commit war crimes. To everyone who chose the harder right over the easier wrong.
It sends the worst possible message from the very top to everyone still fighting - the Rules of Engagement are just annoying suggestions - do whatever you want and the CinC will pardon you because nothing matters anymore.
These war crimes weren't close calls. They weren't protecting their brothers in arms by making tough split second decisions to pull a trigger or to direct mortars/artillery/CAS onto questionable but necessary targets. This wasn't collateral damage. These dudes are just straight up murderers.
When this sort of flippancy comes from the very top, discipline crumbles....President Trump is telling everyone in uniform to shoot now -- get pardoned later.
Of course, that was anonymous, so how do we know it wasn't actually written by the Taliban? And let us just point out that not all of the potential pardons will be for murder -- some will be for such honorable military traditions as covering up evidence, not to mention pissing on the enemy, which is jolly fun even if it hands extremist groups points to be used in recruiting more people to try to kill US troops. THEY PISSED ON CORPSES FOR AMERICA, DAMN IT.
For another, more detailed perspective on why this is a terrible idea, see this Twitter thread by former Army Judge Advocate General prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, whose office prosecuted the case against the Blackwater murderers (although he was not part of that case). Or this op-ed by Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a 37-year veteran and defense analyst. See? More people who don't understand that killing is fun and should be unrestrained. Kirschner closes his thread with a worthwhile question:
What message is Trump sending to the troops? Oh, that one's easy. It's what Mr. Kurtz scrawled on the last page of his journal in yet another book Donald Trump will never read: "Exterminate all the brutes."
Then invite the killers to the
whited sepulchre White House, why not? Heroes all.
*Update/Correction: We originally said a "posthumous" Medal of Honor. William Calley is still alive, unlike the hundreds of Vietnamese civilians whose deaths he ordered.
Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please send us money so we can keep the servers running and, some days, the writers liquored up.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.