President Donald J. Trump Friday (Nov. 15) issued two full pardons and a grant of clemency to three veterans of the war in Afghanistan who had been accused of war crimes by the Department of Defense.
Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Special Forces Army Major Mathew Golsteyn received full pardons. They both had been charged with murder in connection with the deaths of Afghanis whom they believed to be enemy combatants. Special Warfare Operator First Class, Navy SEAL Chief Edward R. Gallagher received a presidential order of clemency that restored all his military decorations and his rank that had been taken away by a military tribunal, despite the fact that Gallagher had been acquitted of all of the most serious charges against him. Gallagher had been charged with murder in connection with the death of a wounded Afghani soldier. He was acquitted of those charges when another soldier confessed to killing the alleged terrorist. He was convicted of having his picture taken with the body of a dead Afghani soldier, although the photograph was not that of the soldier he was charged with murdering.
Before his prosecution, Gallagher held the rank of Chief Petty Officer, had been awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, and had been assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor. He also had been selected to receive a promotion to Senior Chief Petty Officer. Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. President Trump’s order said that given his service to our nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified.
Details of the backgrounds of the background and charges against the three men, and President Trump’s actions were outlined in a White House press release late Friday afternoon:
“In early July 2012, only days after Lieutenant Lorance had taken command of his platoon in one of the most dangerous battle zones in Afghanistan, a motorcycle with three men approached him and his men with unusual speed. Under difficult circumstances and prioritizing the lives of American troops, Lorance ordered his men to engage, and two of the three men were killed. Following these events, Lorance was convicted of several charges. He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received.
Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress, including Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, and Representatives Steve Scalise, Garret Graves, Duncan Hunter, Paul Gosar, Adam Kinzinger, Scott Perry, Brian Babin, Neal Dunn, Michael Waltz, Louie Gohmert, Daniel Webster, Steve King, Ralph Norman, Mark Meadows, Clay Higgins, Ralph Abraham, Mike Johnson, and Jody Hice.
Major Mathew Golsteyn, an officer of the United States Army and graduate of West Point, is currently set to stand trial for an allegedly unlawful killing in connection with one of the largest battles of the Afghanistan War. As our forces cleared the Taliban from the city of Marjah, an Improvised Explosive Device detonated, killing two Marines. The terrorist bombmaker, as identified by an Afghan informant, who had killed our troops, was detained and questioned. Golsteyn was compelled to release him, however, due in part to deficiencies within the fledgling Afghan detention system. Golsteyn has said he later shot the terrorist because he was certain that the terrorist’s bomb making activities would continue to threaten American troops and their Afghan partners, including Afghan civilians who had helped identify him. After nearly a decade-long inquiry and multiple investigations, a swift resolution to the case of Major Golsteyn is in the interests of justice. Clemency for Major Golsteyn has broad support, including from Representatives Louie Gohmert, Duncan Hunter, Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham, and Clay Higgins, American author and Marine combat veteran Bing West, and Army combat veteran Pete Hegseth.
Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor. Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified.
The United States military justice system helps ensure good order and discipline for our millions of uniformed military members and holds to account those who violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Due in part to this system, we have the most disciplined, most effective, most respected, and most feared fighting force in the world.
The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. 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. As the President has stated, ‘when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.’”
Reaction to the President’s order came quickly.
Lorance was immediately released from the federal Fort Leavenworth Military Prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been incarcerated since 2013.
Golsteyn was charged in 2018 with premeditated murder over a killing that took place in 2010, when he was a captain in. He was awaiting his trial on that charge when President Trump’s was delivered before the trial could begin.
Gallagher had been investigated and tried twice before his acquittal on the murder charge.
While the presidential pardons were applauded by conservatives and activists for the veterans, the military brass reacted with petulance and outright disobedience of President Trump’s lawful order.
Among the detractors was former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who wrote on Twitter: “Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us.”
Tim Parlatore, attorney for Gallagher, said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday that the Navy now is trying to humiliate his client by attempting to take away his SEAL Trident.
“This is an action that they could have taken at any time from July right after the verdict, until today,” Parlatore said. “President Trump takes action on a Friday afternoon — Monday morning, the admiral [Adm. Collin Green] comes in and brings everybody together and says ‘I disagree with the president, we’re going to take his Trident.'”
On a personal note, I applaud President Trump’s actions. He is the Commander and Chief of all our military and has every legal and moral right to act as he did in granting clemency and pardons to these three combat veterans. To the President’s candy-ass civilian naysayers, and the insouciant, effete fruit-salad bespeckled generals who would throw the combat veterans to the dogs, rather than grant them mercy, I would only say, “You weren’t there. And, you are clueless.”
In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do in combat, you do not have the luxury of second-guessing every action. You make judgments on the fly, and you hope for the best. Sometimes the results are to the good; sometimes they are not. That’s the way war is. That’s the way war always will be.
Once upon a time, the United States waged war to prevail over its enemies. Generals, admirals, and the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, fought to win. They did so by destroying as much of the enemy’s property as possible, occupying as much enemy territory as possible, and killing as many of the enemy’s citizens as it took to force the enemy into giving up. The United States forced Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan to surrender in World War II because our military followed the recipe for success in war.
Since then, however, our wars have been waged not to win, but to support dubious multinational political objectives that for the most part produced nothing of consequence for the United States, but which took the lives more than 100,000 U.S. military personnel, and the lives of millions of foreign soldiers and civilians.
Our military leadership is inept. Our librat socialist/communist-bent left wing hates the military, the police, and anyone and everyone who does not agree in lock step with their hysterical ant-American rant. The generation that will inherit this country after I am long gone, has been subjected to a progressive left-leaning public education that purposely has made them totally ignorant of American history, mystified by civics, and brainwashed into political imbecility. Those of us who have our heads on straight seem to be powerless to stem the tide of a degenerate implosion caused by an illegal immigrant assault fueled by power-hungry Demorat politicians , societal suicide, cultural degradation, destruction of liberty, free speech and all that true Americans once held dear.
I fear for my country. But I will do what I can to help change the downward spiral. However, if the country does go down the tubes, and me along with it, I will at least go down swinging.
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