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Lately he's been blowing smoke from another orifice.

Duncan Hunter, the California congressman who's been telling America that accused and convicted US war crimers deserve to be pardoned by Donald Trump, explained in a podcast interview that it's ridiculous to charge a Navy SEAL with war crimes just for killing civilians, because honestly, who doesn't kill some civilians now and then? In the interview published by Barstool Sports's military podcast "Zero Blog Thirty," Hunter said that as an artillery officer in Iraq, he had ordered shellfire that "killed probably hundreds of civilians," if not thousands, and that was just fine, after all. Who dares judge him, huh?


We listened to the interview (the segment with Hunter starts around the 20-minute mark), and wow, Hunter is a sociopathic asshole who shouldn't be running a laser tag arcade. let alone commanding Marines or writing laws. The interviewers, Kate Mannion and a guy who goes by "Chaps" (Yr Dok Zoom can't stand people who use pseudonyms), followed up the interview with an extended critique of Hunter's bizarre justifications for war crimes like those allegedly committed by chief Eddie Gallagher in Afghanistan.

Early on, the congressman explains how he thinks war is supposed to work, in a little riff he calls the "Hunter Doctrine":

You kick ass and you leave [...] You go in fast and hard, you kill people, you hit 'em in the face, then you get out and you say if you do it again, we're gonna do it again [...] We're gonna hurt you and then we're gonna leave. And if you wanna be nice to America we'll be nice to you, and if you don't wanna be nice to us we're gonna slap you again.

By "you," it's clear he means not only combatants, but civilians in any area where US troops get attacked, because everyone is the enemy.

Hunter also offered a decidedly weird idea for helping vets assimilate back into civilian life. Like maybe every returning vet should be allowed a penalty-free month or so grace period, "where you get some time to not get in trouble, especially if you get a DUI or something like that." Apparently because DUIs are, what, part of military culture? Maybe Hunter is going to explain that PTSD symptoms are why he had to (allegedly) commit a whole bunch of campaign finance fraud. It's hard to adjust, we guess.

As for the whole "war crimes" thing, Hunter explained there's no such thing, just a military justice bureaucracy that doesn't understand the reality of war. Military justice, he explained, is "just stupid. It's dumb." Like for one thing, it falsely convicted the members of the A-Team of a crime they didn't commit. As an example of the unjust military justice system, Hunter offered the case of an Army Green Beret who generously beat up a local police chief ("a little bit," Hunter acknowledged) on behalf of an abused Afghan woman who accused the dirty cop of hurting her and her kid. The silly military brass wanted to give the Green Beret a dishonorable discharge merely for taking the law into his own hands, even though "we're paying for" the Afghan police. How unfair is that?

As for Gallagher, and the question of just how much abuse of civilians and prisoners might cross the line, Hunter appears to think there's no line at all. Of a 15-year-old ISIS captive Gallagher is accused of knifing to death, Hunter explained that's fine:

In the end, even if everything that the prosecutors said about the one ISIS fighter that escaped the bombing of this building — and that the Iraqis then shot, and then interrogated, then turned him over to the SEALS — I frankly don't care if he was killed. I just don't care, and that's my personal point of view, and as a congressman that's my prerogative to help a guy out like that. Even if everything that the prosecutors say is true in this case, then Eddie Gallagher should still be given a break I think.

Besides, the 15-year old was dying anyway, and just hours before, Americans were trying to kill the guy in combat, right? No difference.

But Mr. Congressman, what about that whole "Americans aren't supposed to do war crimes" thing? Anything you want to add?

Then how do you judge me? So I was an artillery officer and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians — if not scores of hundreds of civilians — probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged too?

Mannion pointed out there's a big difference between "collateral damage" and cutting the throat of a wounded prisoner, but Hunter wasn't having a bit of her girly illogic, because so what if the captive

might have been killed in a way that you don't personally agree with, because you say it's against the laws of war [...] As opposed to artillery killing civilians, women and children, because it's kind of indiscriminate in a way. It's not a sniper weapon, right. Which is worse?

Funny he should mention that, since Gallagher is also accused of using a sniper rifle to murder at least two Afghan civilians, an elderly man and a young girl. But yes, military law and the Rules of Engagement actually make that silly distinction, and commanders are supposed to call off raids that have too high a risk of civilian casualties. (Yes, yes, and any such restraint from mass slaughter means we're "not allowed to win.")

Mind you, if a terrorist kills civilians without regard to combatant status, that proves those people have no regard for human life, and must be exterminated by us, the good guys.

Yesterday, Zero Blog Thirty issued a statement in which "Chaps" described the interview as " a big ball of what the fuck."

After leaving Hunter's office, Kate and I just looked at each other in the hallway of one of the congressional buildings and just kept saying "what the fuck." We debated how and if we would let that interview air. Ultimately, we decided to publish the interview because there's a decent portion of the mil community who agree with Hunter.

ZBT doesn't and we had to be clear about that.

One of the biggest criticisms that we've gotten is that we "gave Hunter a platform." He's been elected to Congress four times. His platform is on Capitol Hill.

We're glad we listened to the whole thing, because it clarified more than mere quotes what a cynical, deranged bastard Hunter is. Not that that's ever been a disqualification for Congress.

[Zero Blog Thirty / ThinkProgress]

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Doktor Zoom

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.

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