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Trump 'relinquishes moral high ground' by pardoning war criminals, US military officials say

Some officials spoke anonymously, others fired shots on Twitter

Lily Puckett
New York
Wednesday 22 May 2019 22:28 BST
(Getty Images)

Current and former US military officials are speaking out against the president’s reported plan to pardon a handful of war criminals on or around Memorial Day.

The Los Angeles Times spoke to a number of high-ranking officials who believe proposed pardons would not only be morally reprehensible, but put the US military at risk.

“If President Trump issues indiscriminate pardons of individuals accused — or convicted by their fellow service members — of war crimes, he relinquishes the United States’ moral high ground and undermines the good order and discipline critical to winning on the battlefield,” retired Gen. Charles Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, told the LA Times.

One senior officer currently serving in the Pentagon, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said many in his rank are “outraged” over the possible decision.

“I think a lot of us would see it in the same way — that it’s just awful,” the officer said.

Retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was explicit in his disapproval in a tweet sent on Tuesday.

“Absent evidence of innocence or injustice, the wholesale pardon of U.S. service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the law of armed conflict seriously,” Mr Dempsey’s tweet read.

“Bad message. Bad precedent,” the tweet continued. “Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us.”

The New York Times reported on Friday that Donald Trump was likely planning to pardon several US military officers charged with committing war crimes, including murdering civilians and urinating on a corpse of a Taliban fighter.

Media Matters points out that Fox News has been calling for pardons for these officers, particularly Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, former Blackwater contractor Nicholas Slatten, for at least the last six months.

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It was also revealed by the Daily Beast that Fox News host Pete Hegseth had been privately lobbying the president to get the war criminals pardoned, which was never disclosed to the public.

Mr Hegseth responded to the article by tweeting it out along with hashtags supporting the pardons.

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