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‘Grand American tradition of immunizing its war criminals’ continues as Trump pardons US soldiers

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“A shameful use of presidential powers,” said the ACLU. “It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war.”

Continuing what critics of U.S. imperialism have long said is a pattern of refusing accountability for violations of international law and a litany of war crimes over recent decades, President Donald Trump on Friday night issued full pardons for three U.S. soldiers either accused or convicted of serious criminal abuses related to their military service.

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“This is a shameful use of presidential powers. It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war.” —ACLU

Outrage among peace activists and opponents of the U.S. war machine was immediate.

“Utterly shameful,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

“With this use of his powers, Trump has sent a clear message of disrespect for law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war,” said Shamsi. “I would include the victims of these crimes but have no illusion he cares for them.”

Journalist and activist Glenn Greenwald, longtime critic of the so-called “global war on terror” and repeated U.S. violations of international law, tweeted: “The grand American tradition of immunizing its war criminals—while preaching morality to the world—continues with these vile pardons by Trump.”

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According to the Washington Post, which first reported the pardons:

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The service members were notified by Trump over the phone late Friday afternoon, according to lawyers for Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn and former Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, the SEAL. Golsteyn faced a murder trial scheduled for next year, while Gallagher recently was acquitted of murder and convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq.

The third service member, former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, was expected to be released Friday night from prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 and sentenced to 19 years for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three men in Afghanistan.

Golsteyn and Lorance received full pardons, while the president will direct the Navy to restore Gallagher to his previous rank before he retires, the White House said. His demotion marked the only significant penalty he received following his acquittal on the murder charge.

As the Post points out, the pardons were issued against the stated desires of the Pentagon. In the case of Lorance, as the New York Times reports, it was members of the officer’s own unit that turned against him after a massacre in Afghanistan. “Mr. Lorance was a rookie Army lieutenant who had been in command of a platoon in Afghanistan for two days in July 2012 when he ordered his troops to fire on unarmed villagers who posed no threat, killing two men,” the Times reports. “He then called in false reports over the radio to cover up what had happened. He was immediately turned in by his own men.”

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Journalist Akmal Dawi, in a tweet, said: “The Trump admin has blocked [the International Criminal Court’s] investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan, now POTUS has pardoned individuals accused of murdering Afghans.” The U.S. government, he added, “doesn’t even record Afghan civilian casualties as if they don’t even happen.”

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(Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)


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Mitch McConnell says he’s in ‘total coordination with the White House’ on Trump’s impeachment

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said clearly on Thursday what many have assumed: When articles of impeachment come over from the House of Representatives, as is expected, to his chamber, he will be acting virtually as President Donald Trump’s defense attorney.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel,” he said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. “There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”

He noted that, unlike the many other issues that come to his chamber, he’s unable to block impeachment. If it comes, he has to hold a trial, he admitted somewhat ruefully.

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UK’s Boris Johnson looks set for big win in ‘Brexit election’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ruling party appeared on course for a sweeping victory in Thursday's snap election, an exit poll showed, paving the way for Britain to leave the EU next month after years of political deadlock.

The Conservatives were forecast to win a thumping 368 out of 650 seats in parliament -- which if confirmed would be the party's biggest majority in three decades -- according to the survey published as polls closed.

The pound jumped by about two percent against the dollar on the projected results of what all sides had painted as the most momentous election in Britain in a generation.

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Maddow reports on ‘a tide of major newspaper editorials’ drowning Trump’s impeachment defenses

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On Thursday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted the sheer volume of editorial boards from newspapers across America calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment and removal from office.

"The editorials that Steve Cohen introduced into the record there that Doug Collins from Georgia said he wanted to read and Steve Cohen said 'I'd love for you to read them,' they're part of a tide of major newspaper editorials that have come out all of a sudden in the last few days in favor of impeachment," said Maddow. "USA TODAY's editorial board saying, quote, 'Until recently we believed impeachment proceedings would be unhealthy for an already polarized nation, rather than simply leaving Trump's fate up to voters next November. But Trump's egregious transgressions and stonewalling in his thuggish effort to trade American arms for foreign dirt on Joe Biden resembled Richard Nixon. It's precisely the type of misconduct the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution."

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