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Rep. Duncan Hunter: I Am War Crimes (And So Can You!)
Very legal and very cool.
Grifty US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) continued his weird campaign of support Saturday for a Navy SEAL accused of committing war crimes , explaining that as a Marine, he too had posed for photos with the bodies of dead enemy soldiers, and honestly, doesn't everyone? Hunter noted that Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher had also been accused of taking photos of a 17-year-old ISIS prisoner he's accused of stabbing to death and then bragging about it in text messages. However, Hunter stopped short of saying Let he among us who hasn't also taken trophy photos with a human corpse cast the first stone. Perhaps he recognized that's not quite the universal experience he'd like it to be.
Speaking to about 150 people at a meeting of the "American Liberty Forum of Ramona," Hunter said, in answer to an event moderator's question about the prospect of Donald Trump pardoning Gallagher and other accused or convicted war criminals,
" Eddie did one bad thing that I'm guilty of too — taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid" [...]
[Hunter] said he's taken pictures "just like that when I was overseas" — although he didn't text or post images to social media. "But a lot of my peers … have done the exact same thing."
Not surprisingly, Hunter was deliberately muddying the issue by acting as if those trophy photos -- and texting "Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife" -- were the main reason Gallagher faces a court-martial. As the Times of San Diego reports, Hunter didn't even mention the actual crimes Gallagher is accused of , by SEALS under his command in Afghanistan. Just some trifles, like murdering a little girl and an elderly man from a sniper position, as well as indiscriminately directing rockets and machine gun fire into civilian neighborhoods. Plus threatening other SEALS that he'd kill them if they testified against him. Oh, that. Let's look on the bright side: At least the sitting US congressman didn't say he'd done the same, and wouldn't we all? Hunter has previously insisted, "I don't trust the Navy to give him a fair trial," because after all, military justice is "rigged" against real heroes.
As for the trophy photos Hunter says are perfectly fine, because he did the same thing and he's a normal human being? They're not even among the actual charges, as military blog Task & Purpose explains:
[The] Navy judge presiding over the Gallagher case ruled in February that taking photographs of or conducting a reenlistment ceremony over an enemy corpse doesn't rise to the level of "prohibited acts" under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"The judge is saying that two of the specs under charge 3, the [Article] 134 violation, did not rise to the level of war crimes," Navy spokesman Brian O'Rourke told Task & Purpose at the time. "The judge said 'these are in extremely bad taste, and you should have known better.'"
The Washington Post points out that even if such photos don't rise to the level of a war crime, they're definitely against Pentagon policy, probably because the military is run by wimps:
According to the Defense Department's Law of War Manual, enemy military dead must be treated with "the same respect as would be afforded to, or expected for, friendly military dead."
"The respectful treatment of the dead is one of the oldest rules in the law of war," the manual reads . "Enemy military dead must be protected from disrespectful or degrading acts . . . posing with bodies for photographs or leaving a 'calling card' on a body are also inconsistent with the respectful treatment of the dead."
Next thing you know, they'll ban saying "Merry Christmas" again.
Hunter also took the opportunity Saturday to explain that, just like Gallagher, he too is a heroic American patriot being hounded by an out of control court system that acts as if "laws" need to be followed, even if you have a really good reason to ignore them, such as wanting to get away with it.
Alluding to his own federal criminal case, where he's charged with using campaign funds for personal spending and travel, Hunter said he would argue that "our regular justice system is just as abusive as the military justice system. It's not about justice."
He said it's about: How many wins can they get?
"How famous can they get up the ladder in the military, get that next promotion? [...] And in the Department of Justice here, how famous can [they] get and can they run for Congress next term if they have a big case?"
And then, having neither the facts nor the law on his side, we can only assume Hunter pounded on the table. Then he punched an atheist for disrespecting the flag, and an eagle flew into the room and perched on his shoulder.
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