Over the weekend it was reported that Trump is working on several pardons for war criminals that he hopes to announce on Memorial Day. The most notorious is Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL platoon leader who is set to stand trial for his crimes next week. It is hard to even read about some of the things Gallagher has done.
Reports from Gallagher’s fellow Navy SEAL team are what finally resulted in charges being brought against him. To get some idea of what he is alleged to have done, you can read this long Twitter thread from Scott Hechinger. Here’s just one example.
He didn’t even try to hide the murder of the 15 y/o. He brought other seals around minutes later & took a photo over the body. Later, he texted the photo to a fellow SEAL in California: “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) May 19, 2019
Gallagher is a stone-cold murderer who has allegedly committed numerous war crimes. Apparently there are those on the right who think that they can remake this man into some kind of conservative hero. Those lobbying on his behalf include not only Fox News personality Pete Hegseth, but Republican members of congress like Representatives Duncan Hunter, Matt Gaetz, and Ralph Norman.
The idea that the president would not only pardon war criminals, but that he would do so on Memorial Day is being called not only disturbing, but a desecration by military veterans. They know that such an action is anathema to everything they have fought for and will endanger the lives of those who are currently serving.
But this is a president who has demonstrated on several occasions that he doesn’t just embrace war criminals, he has advocated for war crimes. He repeatedly said that this country’s main mistake in Iraq was that we failed to seize their oil. During the 2016 campaign, Trump endorsed the use of torture and said that when dealing with terrorists, “you have to take out their families.”
In other words, it has been clear for a long time now that Trump has no problem with war crimes. It is probably safe to say that he also has no idea what pardoning war crimes will do to troop morale and adherence to the rule of law. But even more alarming is the notion that he actually “wants servicemen who don’t adhere to law, hierarchy and military discipline on his side. He needs people who won’t hesitate to follow an unlawful order.”
It is worth noting that Trump’s intentions to pardon these war criminals was leaked to the press a little more than a week before Memorial Day. Those who did the leaking probably did so in order to stir up reaction against such a move. In most corners of the country, that is exactly what happened. So we’ll have to wait and see if that has any effect on the president or if he will follow through on his plans.