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Former Army lawyer rips Trump’s scheme to pardon war criminals: ‘This makes me sick’

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Former U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Glenn Kirschner on Saturday ripped President Donald Trump after The New York Times reported President Donald Trump was considering pardoning war criminals.

“As a former career prosecutor, including 6 years as an Army JAG, this makes me sick,” he said.

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“Please bear with me as this will take a minute: Our military criminal justice system protects the rights of soldiers accused of crimes as well as, if not better then, many civilian systems,” he noted.

“It’s rarely an easy decision to prosecute a soldier, particularly for crimes committed during a time of war or otherwise in a hostile environment. But we expect, indeed demand, that our soldiers not commit murder/war crimes/atrocities while in military service,” he explained.

“Indeed, the need to maintain good order and a cohesive fighting force requires that soldiers act in a law-abiding way even under the most difficult circumstances,” he continued. “Military commanders & prosecutors often agonize over decisions whether to charge a soldier with a criminal offese (sic).”

“This is, in part, because we recognize the sacrifices soldiers make for their country, putting their lives on the line to protect our people and our freedoms,” he said. “But when a decision ultimately is made to court-martial a soldier, the system takes great pains to insure (sic) that soldiers receive excellent legal representation & fair trials.”

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“Enormous time/effort goes into investigations, prosecutions and, in the event of conviction, appeals. I know this first hand, having handled as an Army prosecutor (in both the trial courts and appellate courts) cases including murder during Operation Just Cause, espionage during Operation Desert Storm, death penalty litigation & many others,” he explained.

“Today I saw this NYT’s article that Trump is ginning up pardons of soldiers who criminally killed others, intending to use it as some sort of twisted Memorial Day celebration,” he noted. “Among the pardons reportedly being contemplated are cases involving the Blackwater security firm. Please bear with me for a moment while I relate some basic public facts about the Blackwater case. The defendants were US civilians (veterans) who were being paid to perform security services in Iraq. Multiple Blackwater employees opened fire on innocent Iraqis in what was a massacre in broad daylight. They killed 14 unarmed Iraqi citizens and injured 17 others in front of dozens of witnesses

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“Some of the testifying witnesses were the defendants own Blackwater teammates,” Kirschner said. “Many of the fellow Blackwater members testified about how the defendants were in the wrong – they did not even attempt to defend their teammates, rather they described their teammates’ use of deadly force as being wholly unjustified and without provocation. Evidence at trial included how one defendant, Nicholas Slatten, called Iraqis ‘animals’ and ‘less then human.’ According to Slatten, Iraqi lives were worth ‘nothing.’”

“My former office, the DC US Attorney’s Office, prosecuted the case, obtained convictions and brought justice to the surviving victims & the families of the dead (I didn’t work on the case),” he continued. “I saw the enormous time, energy and resources that went into that prosecution It was important that the perpetrators of those horrific offenses were brought to justice. Now Trump, in a twisted, grotesque “celebration” of Memorial Day, wants to pardon these and other murderers?”

“What message is he really trying to send to the military?” Kirschner noted.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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