In a press release available here, the White House announces:

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and an order directing the promotion of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward R. Gallagher to the grade of E-7, the rank he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all of the charges against him.

. . .

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.”

Commutations and clemency were the #9 Military Justice Story of 2017 based on President Obama’s commutation of the death sentence for Private Loving and the sentence of confinement for 35-years for Private Manning. Both actions were taken in the last days of President Obama’s second term.

President Trump pardoned Army LT Behenna earlier this year (discussed here).

Last year we discussed presidential pardons for convicted wartime murderers, in this Scholarship Saturday post.

80 Responses to “President Trump pardons 1LT Lorance and MAJ Golsteyn, and grants clemency to Chief Gallagher”

  1. Maga says:

    This may be controversial, as everything the President seems to do has been, however this needed to happen and hopefully a few more! These individuals are very good people and Clint has dealt with everything as well as he could I know that personally. Congrats to all 3 well done President. To those who are gonna argue the  “good order and discipline will be lost” argument give it a break. 

  2. stewie says:

    so will folks around here be as outraged about this as Bergdahl filing an appeal?

  3. Maga says:

    Stewie you are very intelligent and always have good arguments/points however that was not one of them. Let this rest and support a great action of support  by the President to true Patriots. This is not intended to be negative towards you so please dont take it that way.

  4. stewie says:

    MAGA you have dual bias, as an obvious supporter of the President and as an obvious supporter of at least one of the people who got the pardon. So forgive me if I perhaps think your analysis of the wisdom of actively interceding to this level in the military justice system in this manner is a bit skewed.

  5. Tami a/k/a Princess Leia says:

    Obama reducing Manning’s sentence from 35 to 7 years was more controversial.  I think in Gallagher’s case, he deserved the clemency.

  6. stewie says:

    So reducing one case to a shorter term of years (but still keeping the discharge and significant confinement) is more controversial than multiple pardons (not commutations, pardons) of multiple people?
     
    How so?

  7. stewie says:

    three of those pardons involved murder/killing by the way….again pardons…not clemency reducing a sentence, or reducing a sentence from death to LWOP…pardons.
     
    If Obama had pardoned Manning, that would have been outrageous in and of itself. And this board would have gone nuts (and in that case, deservedly so). Trump does three pardons at least on the same level of serious offenses, and?

  8. Bill Cassara says:

    LT Lorance was sentenced to a dismissal. So what happens now? Reinstatement? Back pay?

  9. stewie says:

    I don’t know. I don’t think it does. It’s not the same thing as the case being overturned and sent back (or a subsequent dismissal or acquittal). It doesn’t expunge your record in the same way, but we don’t ordinarily see full pardons in our system. When was the last one?
     
    I suppose the various pardonees can seek out redress from the ABCMR (or service equivalent) but doubt they get reinstated even then, but not sure.

  10. Vulture says:

    I remember that Scholarship Saturday.  It’s good to back and look at it with the real time implications.  Thank you all you MAGA’s for a wonderful Saturday.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Golsteyn hadn’t even been tried yet, so it’s not like he has a record to expunge. I’m sure if he’s retirement-eligible he’s submitting to do so ASAP. If not, he’s probably applying to separate as soon as possible.

  12. Less Concerned says:

    Check out the Pardon Attorney’s website. A pardon does not vacate the conviction nor does it vacate the discharge. A pardon is basically just the President forgiving you but does not indicate innocence. You still have a conviction but have a right to own guns, etc. So there should be no reinstatement or back pay for Lorance. 
    https://www.justice.gov/pardon/frequently-asked-questions
    https://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardon-information-and-instructions

  13. Stephen says:

    If I remember correctly, acceptance of a Presidential pardon is considered by federal courts to include an admission of guilt. 

  14. Maga says:

    Stewie thanks for your response and Princess Leia I always read these comments and get  a smile at your take on things. You see things through a lens that others should take, at least….a peak through. True wisdom is not measured by ones bias nor attempt at sounding intelligent but through their willingness to be normal and “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” If I may I’d like to add, and I dont want to try to intercede into the “articles of war” at a level higher than a blogger is allowed, but until Congress changes their mind, the President has the authority to view ALL information and pardon those deserving. That’s not bias that’s law. 

  15. Maga says:

     From above: 
    offer second chances to deserving individuals,  “when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.”
    As individuals who put their lives on the line for our country during combat and our freedoms do they not deserve this?

  16. Less Concerned says:

    “ALL” the information includes a lot more than is covered inaccurately on the official state news channel:
    https://www.fayobserver.com/5348ca10-d022-59c5-91a5-3259b6dedddb.html – 

    Lorance was convicted of committing at least one crime every day he was with his unit at a small outpost in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan last summer.
    On June 30, as soon as he arrived at the outpost two days after being tapped as the platoon leader, Lorance threatened to have a man and his family killed if the man moved concertina wire near the outpost or if any soldiers were ever injured on his land.
     
    On July 1, he ordered a marksman in the platoon into a guard tower to harass civilians by shooting close enough to scare them. The soldier who shot said during the court-martial that he eventually refused to fire when Lorance ordered him to shoot near a group of children. Lorance also asked another soldier to file a false report saying villagers shot at the outpost to provoke the attack.
     
    On July 2, Lorance threatened to kill villagers who showed up at the base to complain about the shots into the village the day before. Lorance was acquitted of making a false official statement, a charge related to his allegedly telling his men before a foot patrol that morning to immediately shoot anyone they saw on a motorcycle.
     
    Lorance also was convicted of obstruction of justice for working to cover up the murder immediately after it happened, lying about several details of the incident. He reported the bodies couldn’t be searched because the family had retrieved them so quickly. Multiple soldiers testified that the bodies already had been searched when Lorance made that report. Cucumbers, scissors and other personal items were found, but no weapons or items such as cellphones or hand-held radios that could have been evidence of insurgent activity. Lorance also said a support helicopter pilot had seen the men on the motorcycle carrying weapons. The pilot, Capt. Katherine McNair, testified Wednesday that she didn’t arrive as air support for Lorance’s platoon until after the two Afghans were shot.
     

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/taskandpurpose.com/think-lt-clint-lorance-murderer/amp/
     

  17. Joseph Wilkinson says:

    If I remember correctly, acceptance of a Presidential pardon is considered by federal courts to include an admission of guilt. 
     
    The only authority on point I know is to the contrary.  United States v. Klein –80 U.S. 128 (1871) — dealt with a statute that said, #1, if you had aided the Confederacy, you couldn’t bring a case in the U.S. Court of Claims, and #2, If you accepted a Presidential pardon, that was conclusive proof that you had aided the Confederacy.  The Supreme Court rejected the second part, as beyond the power of Congress to prescribe rules of decision for particular cases. 
     
    (Outside of a statute like that, I can’t fathom how federal courts would ever be considering the guilt or innocence of a person who had been pardoned…)

  18. Tami a/k/a Princess Leia says:

    Stewie, Gallagher didn’t kill anyone.  Photographs with a dead terrorist’s body, woopdee-do.  How many others were in at least one of those pictures?  A bunch.  How many of them got in trouble for it?  None.  How much time did Gallagher spend in PTC?  Nine months.  What was the max confinement for his conviction?  4 months.  I have zero problem with him being restored to his previous rank.

  19. Adlaw Guy says:

    Bill,
    If the DD has not been executed, a pardon  it from happening.  If it is executed the discharge remains in place.  Pardon stops ongoing and future punishment from being executed.  It does not eliminate the conviction; but prohibits implementation of negative consequence.  Old TJAG archives have excellent opinions on this dating back to the post civil war period.   Too few people read any law that can’t be googled.  Still the pardon office has a pretty good summary that lays it all out. 

  20. stewie says:

    Tami, I wasn’t referencing Gallagher, I was referencing the OTHER people he’s pardoned…who HAVE killed people.

  21. J.M. says:

    Since Gallagher didn’t get a pardon, but a POTUS ordered promotion, doesn’t that mean that unless he stays another 3 years he’s getting E6 retirement? And the conviction is still on his record?

  22. B. Wellington IV says:

    Stewie, a lot of Soldiers have killed people…it’s called “war”…look it up.  MAGA!

  23. Ganthet says:

    A lot of these MAGA-like people were the same type as those who cheered Nixon commuting William Calley’s sentence following his murder conviction.  Some people don’t view foreigners as people and are willing to condone Americans murdering (not lawfully killing under the law of armed conflict, B. Wellington IV) any number of them if the Americans happen to be wearing camouflage.  Thankfully, they appear to be the minority.  Commanders, senior enlisted, and the military culture overall takes a dim view of lawless murder.

  24. Bean says:

    What does “true Patriots” mean Maga?

  25. Maga says:

    Bean
    I dont have a definition but when you are around one and talk with one you will just know one. 
    Less concerned
    it’s fair to point out the other side of the argument so do you feel a pardon is not warranted? 
    Ganthet
    I personally have absolutely no issue with foreigners! Zero if I can point out you were the first person to imply stereotyping and interject that to this conversation which was out of left field. I simply support the Presidents decision to pardon these three individuals. There is no hate towards anyone 

  26. Defense Wizard says:

    If I recall correctly, 1LT Lorance’s attorneys were actually seeking to have the President disapprove of the findings of the Court Martial, which would have gone beyond a pardon. That does not appear to have happened, but I may be missing something.

  27. Vulture says:

    Here’s another way of looking at it:
    Maybe the President is trying to send a message to the services to stop trying to use the UCMJ to make examples of soldiers.  Hear me out.
    1) Major Golstyen may or may not have committed an illegal act.  Dirty, yep.  Unapproved, OK.  A combat action, probably.  But we really don’t know that much.  And certainly not enough to put ourselves in his shoes.
    2) I’ve got no problem with Navy SEALs being stupid.  Just do it someplace else, please.  Since the Panama invasion they have shown a lack of discretion in force on force combat.  No insult intended, but the SEAL’s are not the seize and hold terrain types.
    3) This is the tough one: Consider the optics of pardoning two special operators without a balancing action for the rest of the force.  Not so good.  It sends a message that SOF can do anything and get away with it.  So he must pardon a conventional force member.  Big wars, the kind President Trump doesn’t want to fight, depend on conventional forces.  He has to balance the implications.
     
    President Trump could simply be saying that the UCMJ has to get back on board with what the other parts of the military are having to do – get adequate to fight a war where a lot of people are going to die.   Stop trying to be so pretty.

  28. 777-300er says:

    @Vulture – “This is the tough one: Consider the optics of pardoning two special operators without a balancing action for the rest of the force. Not so good. It sends a message that SOF can do anything and get away with it. So he must pardon a conventional force member. Big wars, the kind President Trump doesn’t want to fight, depend on conventional forces. He has to balance the implications.”

    SOF already gets away with anything, and they get whatever they want.

    These pardons are a joke. Lorance and his family are faithful to the Confederacy (check out their Starz documentary), Gallagher is an insubordinate jackass who should’ve been busted down to Seaman Recruit, and Goldsteyn basically admitted his bad acts so he could get a job, so not only should he be lit up for the unlawful killing, but also a charge for being “stupid” should be added. (I know, there is no such article)

    Trump has basically kicked over the military discipline/justice system for his own needs, and stuck his fat orange fingers squarely in the eyes of the military’s leadership…..AGAIN. Apparently the MAGAts like that sort of thing, so long as they are “stigginit!” to the so-called “deep state” and “librulz”!

  29. Vulture says:

    777-300er
    Then I can’t think of a reason to do these pardons at all.  Certainly it doesn’t help my view of the UCMJ.

  30. Pontius says:

    I think most people are missing an even larger point- these animals should not have been kept in the protectionist United States justice system.  Their offenses were offenses against all mankind and should have been prosecuted by an international tribunal like other war criminals.

  31. Maga says:

    Does anyone care to respond to what Pontius has said? Either in support or against? In my understanding of military history and the purpose of the Geneva convention and ucmj, WE are not trying to be “protectionist” but rather ensure our soldiers are afforded due process rights which they are away defending. Although they may make a mistake during conflict WE, as Americans, do not turn our backs on them. There is a really good law review I want to share hopefully you care to read it.
    Justice at war by Peter margulies

  32. Pontius says:

    Maga,
    These cases prove my point that we use our system as a protectionist measure.  It’s improper for the US to declare itself the arbiter of what is and isn’t a war crime.  I’m sure many of the litigious defense attorneys on this forum would squeal if such biased showed itself in a jury.  But are willing to endure the US using a biased system to handle war criminals.  These beasts should receive no safe haven, especially from the US.  The only way to ensure war criminals are fairly dealt with is to utilize the international community via tribunals. That’s what should have happened here.
     

  33. jagaf says:

    @Maga, what you describe as mistakes were alleged (or proven, in Lorance’s case) to be murders. We all know armed conflict necessarily involves killing and combatants are privileged to kill on behalf of the State that sends them, but they are not privileged to wantonly murder. The implicit condonation of these abhorrent violations of military discipline are what, at least for me, is so repulsive about POTUS’s action; that I am unable to believe the decisions were made for anything other than craven political purposes, and perhaps to distract a bit from the current news cycle, is all the more repugnant. As to @Pontius’s comment, I believe in our system of justice, imperfect though it is, and have no issue with accused US troops being tried before it rather than international bodies; however, actions like this, negating or forestalling the accountability the UCMJ is designed to ensure, can only increase the distrust our adversaries (and allies) have for our institutions and increase the belief that we cannot be trusted to honestly police our own.

  34. Maga says:

    Pontius,
    Do you actually believe this statement you made “The only way to ensure war criminals are fairly dealt with is to utilize the international community via tribunals”?
    jagaf,
    Thank you for a well said argument! I think we can all agree with your point and that is the difficult reality of this situation. 

  35. Pontius says:

    Jagaf, 
    I agree with your conclusion that this casts doubt on our system, but I don’t share your confide in the system. No country should judge the actions of its own combatants in war crimes cases.  It’s the fox watching the hen house.  Would we want Servia, Rawanda, Sudan, Cambodia, and Nazi Germany trying their own combatants, of course not.  I know, I know, a bunch of defense attorneys who normally rail against our military justice are donning their white capes and zooming this way to defend it suddenly.  “But the US is different!” they will shout.  “Our country and our system respects rights and will ensure a fair process!” they will insist.  But after these cases, my simple question is: can you really hide that bogus smirk and still say that after these cases?  If so, I have some carbolic smoke balls to sell you.

  36. stewie says:

    First of all, jagaf has it exactly right. This was not some deeply examined decision, this was Trump thinking this would play with his base…just like attacking LTC Vindman plays to his base (love the troops unless they say something not perfect about you, then they suck).
     
    Second, Pontius, I’d be fine with most countries judging the actions of their combatants. That none of us would be fine with SOME does not mean we cannot be fine with ANY. Having said that, when Trump does stuff like this as jagaf says, it turns our system from something with defined rules and morals and definitions to whimsy. If I were an appellant convicted of anything related to combat, I’d send a fluffy letter to Trump, praising him profusely, and then asking him to look at his case. But this isn’t a historical pattern with us. We generally do a reasonable job of holding our own to account, with some seriously glaring exceptions.
     
    The US isn’t “different,” it’s simply no worse (or better) than whatever collection of nations system you’d design. Who goes on this judiciary? Russia? Britain? A rotating list? Who rotates on it? Countries that are beholden to the US might actually do a WORSE job of holding our Soldiers to account. Countries that don’t like us may treat our Soldiers unfairly.
     
    Our system worked in these cases, we just happened to elect someone who doesn’t give a flying fig about systems, norms or processes or appearances.  We tend to get a weird result every once awhile…this too shall pass.

  37. Pontius says:

    stewie,
    You’re missing the point.  This isn’t about crimes that are solely the concern of the country that owns the troops.  It isn’t a case where an American soldier kills another American.  Or sexually assaults him/her.  It’s not a situation where an American troop failed to obey the orders of his American commander.  We’re talking about offenses committed by the combatants of one side against foreign nationals, within the context of international conflict.  An international system needs to handle those criminal cases because it affects the international order.
     
    It’s possible, as you claim, that the international tribunal may not afford as many rights as an American one (although, even this is doubtful).  No system is going to be perfect to everyone, in every way.  But it takes care of the biggest problem, nations judging their own actions on matters of international concern.  Nobody credible would accept the Patriots refereeing their own game against an opponent, but we advocate for it on such weighty and serious international issues?
     
    Finally, I completely disagree that these cases are an aberration and that “this too shall pass.”  One needs to look no farther than Gitmo to see what happens when a nation takes it upon itself to be the sole war crime judge, jury, and executioner.

  38. Vulture says:

    Don’t we already have a way to address this subject matter?

  39. jagaf says:

    @Pontius, the US has its issues, but Serbia, Rwanda, Sudan, Cambodia, and NAZI Germany? I think the hyperbole is a little much there. After all, PFC Steven Green: LWoP (via DoJ) and SSG Robert Bales: LWoP. All three of the individuals involved here were being subjected to the justice system after reports of their conduct were received by military authorities. Lorance was convicted by a military panel wearing the same uniform he was and received 20 years for actions in a 72 hour period. Compare that with the ICC, which just sentenced Bosco Ntaganda, a former DRC military officer, to 30 years for crimes spanning years that included murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers. Again, I’m not saying that the United States is perfect; there are examples where we have failed to hold people to account and probably more we don’t know about. That said, I would put our record, our willingness to act and, probably most importantly, our Military’s genuine focus on attempting to comply with the LoW while involved in conflicts around the globe (a whole separate discussion) up against that of any other nation or international body, notwithstanding the actions of the current interloper-in-chief. Now, as I am feeling a bit under the weather, how much for these carbolic smoke balls?

  40. Concerned Defender says:

    I do think the UCMJ has recently been weaponized against lower enlisted and officers who are generally trying to do good, but make mistakes in the stress and fog of war.  Practice MJ for any period of time and you see rampant unfairness in the application of standards and the law.  
     
    I support Trump’s pardons here.  
     
    For those that don’t, ask yourself if we should seek out those WWII veterans who have openly admitted to shooting surrendering Japanese Soldiers on various islands, or other things we now consider “acts of atrocity” during wartime.  Plenty of examples.  
     
    Heck we need not go that far back, let’s just look at 2015 when the United States intentionally bombed a building, which turned out to be a hospital, killing 40+ innocent people and injuring as many.  Nobody went to prison.  We issued an apology and some cash payments. 
     
    So in ethics, and law, which is the “worse” offense?: killing one likely terrorist in violation of the “rules” or is it worse to purposefully (and totally criminally recklessly) dropping guided bombs on a building that turns out to be a hospital full of innocent people including medical personnel.  Why does the former “offender” go to prison but the latter offenders escape prosecution???  
     
    Either prosecute uniformly or don’t prosecute at all for these types of wartime offenses.  But selective prosecution must end.

  41. stewie says:

    Pontius, you’ve stated an assertion as if it’s a truism. All sorts of things aren’t “solely the concern of a sole country.” That does not translate to the result you are asserting ipso facto.
     
    The Patriots analogy is silly and facile.As is your handwaving my legitimate concerns about the efficacy and balance of an international tribunal. What if a country that doesn’t like us asserts that one of our Soldiers committed a war crime…and what if the sitting tribunal is filled with countries that see that Soldier as a point to be made against the US? Or what if a country brings a valid issue, and countries that think they can garner American support or sympathy by excusing that Soldier are on the tribunal?
    The concerns about bias you raise don’t remotely go away by making it international.
     
    GITMO isn’t about our war crimes. You are mixing up issues. I don’t like GITMO not because I don’t like us prosecuting on our own vice some international tribunal, but because we ALREADY have a viable civilian justice system that has repeatedly shown it can retain the rights of the accused vice safeguarding from terrorism and, you know, actually getting convictions. GITMO hasn’t shown itself able to do any of that.

  42. jagaf says:

    @CD, a couple of thoughts on the Whataboutism. We don’t just now consider shooting surrendering prisoners unlawful; that was prohibited by Geneva I and the Lieber Code, going back decades before Pearl Harbor. Do I want to round about a few 90+ year old former GIs for trial? No, not really, but the Germans are certainly still doing for low-level participants in the Holocaust so if doing so was in some way the only means to enforce GOAD now (it isn’t), I’d at least consider it. Crimes being ignored in the past doesn’t excuse crimes being committed now.
     
    As to Kunduz, it was an accident; a terrible, tragic, horrifying accident, but an accident nonetheless. Intent matters. It simply isn’t the same thing as what we are talking about…and I think you probably know that.

  43. Charlie Gittins says:

    CD:  I have some experience with a case where an accident caused friendly deaths.  What the Air Force wanted to avoid, and we challenged was that the information provided to the pilots prior to the flight was deficient; the USAF failed to report a scheduled training exercise in the battle space during the briefing and ATO so that the pilots and controllers might be informed of the location and time. Those errors involved senior officers.  It is much easier to go after the least senior pilots than to do a real examination of the reasons for the accident and hold MajGen or Cols responsible for the errors.   

  44. Charlie Gittins says:

    On a separate issue, during the SPanish American War the United States conducted military commissions to prosecute military personnel who water boarded Americans.  They were prosecuted for torture.  We put them to death after they were convicted.  No American was ever held accountable for the waterboarding that was conducted by the United States under the Bush Presidency.  Nor were any senior military or civilian leaders held accountable for those crimes.       

  45. Concerned Defender says:

     
     
    So, by analogy, a person is driving and accidentally hits and kills a bus full of innocent kids because he didn’t see it (and arguably, he very well should have with any level of diligence).  Afterward, he says he feels really really bad and offers some token payments to the families of victims.  Therefore because he feels really badly, he’s not prosecuted?
     
    I don’t buy it.  
     
    These pardons/commutations give me no heartburn whatsoever in contrast to the known/likely terrorists that were killed.  None.  Trump hopefully has helped right the ship on the nonsense waste of time, resources, and money that the military and senior members have engaged in over the last couple decades in these over-aggressive UCMJ pursuits against America’s finest and bravest.  
     
    The UCMJ has been abused as a weapon to eat our own, and it’s time to put an end to it.  Prosecute real crimes.  Not manufactured ones.  I don’t weep for dead terrorists.  And I certainly think there’s more important things to do than waste MILLIONS of dollars and tie up lawyers and courts for decades in these nonsense pursuits.  I’d be happy if these resources were re-directed toward VA hospitals, suicidal veterans, and so forth.  

  46. Interested onlooker says:

    Eddie Gallagher is an example of America’s finest and bravest?  Jesus, we’re in deep doodoo! 777-300er has him exactly right.

  47. af_dc says:

    CD, I don’t care if the folks Lorance, Golsteyn, and (probably) Gallagher shot were terrorists or angels. They were shot ad hoc, by troops in the field, while they were not combatants and not threatening US troops, full stop. That should be the beginning and end of the matter. We are the United States and we don’t do that kind of thing.  We don’t torture, we don’t shoot non-combatant civilians, and we don’t desecrate bodies. And not only do we not do it, but we stamp down hard on it when our own troops do it.
    Lorance was convicted and should still be in jail after every single one of his men testified against him. Golsteyn, if convicted, should also have been in jail. Gallagher should have been out of the service and demoted for posing with a corpse. Their actions, and Trump’s pardon, make other service members less safe and undermine our allies’ trust in us.  It’s a terrible decision. 

  48. stewie says:

    Of course it doesn’t bother you CD because your morals depend on whose involved. So if it’s terrorists, you don’t care about the laws of war. Just like you don’t care if Trump does stuff vice Obama. Just like you want to throw the book at some accused and want to pardon others. There’s certainly room for the idea of a foolish consistency, but going to the other extreme isn’t any better.
    No one weeps for dead terrorists, that doesn’t mean we celebrate or ignore crimes just because the victim is a bad person.

  49. Vulture says:

    So, in contribution to the unthinkable, would it bother us more, or less, if Lynndie England received a pardon?
     
    I’d suggest that we, as a society, learn to find a way to recognize that crimes committed in wartime not forever stigmatize the individual involved.  What would be the chance that, some day, Robert Bales seeing the light of day would really make us any less?  So much of the clemency measures of the UCMJ have already been stripped, there is no reason to go over the edge of mutually opposed positions.
     
    The Navy earned this elixir when they promoted a SEAL commander that prompted a witch hunt for a whistleblower.  Eat it boys.

  50. Bean says:

    I think the message, quite intentional, from the commander-in-chief, is that the military justice system (made up of commanders/convening authorities, panels, and JAGs) is not to be trusted.  Whether true or not, that will be the take-away from the rank and file.  

  51. stewie says:

    why would England get a pardon? The problem for her is notoriety has made it difficult for her to hold a job. That and her other unfortunate limitations have made it more difficult for her than perhaps is fair. A pardon isn’t going to resolve that. And it isn’t deserved. She did what she did, and while she got a little more time than she deserved, that’s not the same as saying she should be pardoned. At any rate, pardons are reserved for special cases, with special circumstances. Not simply a President looking to get his base riled up during difficult political times.

  52. Vulture says:

    Did she pose with a corpse? Nope.
    Did she follow orders?  Looks like it.
    Did she shoot at civilians.  No.
     
    Did she get made into an example?  Was the conjuring of “eradication of filth from our glorious ranks” evoked by the prosecution?  Was the salaciousness of a bastard child waved in front of our Sunday school morals?  Did anyone in that unit have the training to be in that set of circumstances?
     
    Stewie, I am not going to look up the where you said “I don’t know what that is, but it sure isn’t legal analysis.”  Fine.  Neither do pardons require legal analysis.  What does it matter?  Donald J. ain’t the first person to use MJ to get people riled up, if that’s an accurate assumption.  I don’t even see a category in the Scholarship Saturday to fit these pardons in.
     
    Military leadership.  It depended on Military Justice.  It was fixated on it.  It is fixated on it hand in hand with the iconography on their shoulder-boards.  So, I’ll go back to my original position: leadership deserved this.  They deserved it the way B. Bergdahl got what he deserved.  The deserved it the way Spath got what he deserved.
     
    Haven’t you seen Unforgiven?  Deserves got nothin to do with it.

  53. Concerned Defender says:

    We have fundamental disagreements.
     
    In prior wars against for more sophisticated and competent enemies, the allies were victorious using more brutal wartime tactics, in far less time (WWI was ~4 years, WWII was ~5 years give or take).  We defeated or helped defeat the Germans, Japanese, Italians, etc. in short order.  They represented the best militarizes in the world with the best airforce, Army, armored divisions, and technology in the contemporary world.  The Germans held most of Europe.  The Japanese held the entire Pacific ocean west of Hawaii, and even the Aleutian islands. 
     
    Now, 18 years into OEF and OIF drug out for some 8 years, plus, giving endless protections to non-state terrorists actors, the GWOT has been a resounding failure against people that don’t have a standing army, an air force, a navy, or even proper clothing or equipment.   It’s cost us significantly in terms of money, men (albeit less than prior wars), and global reputation.  The various conventions have tied the west’s hands at actually winning wars.  And the UCMJ is used harmfully against US interests in such cases. 
     
    EIGHTEEN YEARS.  
     
    But we can sure prosecute our men darn good… 

  54. jagaf says:

    @CD, it’s too bad you were born in the wrong place and/or time. You clearly have the aptitude to have been able to do such wonderful, effective things as an official in the Antebellum South, the 19th Century Belgian Congo, early 1940s Germany, 1970s South Africa, or today in Xinjiang. 

  55. Vulture says:

    In Concerned Defender’s defense:
    At eighteen years we lose the generational battle space.  That is, on September 14th the GWOT order was signed.  But an insurgency/guerrilla conflict becomes self sustaining when a populace is able to rear another iteration of indoctrinated fighters.  Even by our own laws of conscription, we have failed there.  By some estimates the U.S. has killed a million non-combatants since the second world war.  
    So let’s not jump his shit about when and where he was born.  I like him much more on CAAFlog than I would if he was trying to car bomb me.

  56. stewie says:

    First of all Vulture, I guarantee you I know more about her case than anyone on here, I will just leave it at that.
    Second of all, she didn’t do any of those things, but her actions assuredly led to Soldiers getting injured and dying.
    Third, they were illegal orders so “just following orders” is a bit silly.
    Fourth, she can be a sympathetic figure. A woman from poverty and reduced intellectual capacity who was also not the most attractive woman and thus was at the mercy of a truly POS human being who showed her a tiny amount of attention. But she was still an adult, capable of making decisions, and at her guilty plea she was the most (and only IIRC) person to take full responsibility for what she did. That justifies a shot at redemption sure, but it does not justify a pardon.
    Fifth, yes, they had the training, Grainer was a civilian prison guard in WV as were a couple of others, so that plus their military training was more than enough to not do the psycho stuff they did. Being a decent human being would have been training enough. It was the night shift. All they had to do was literally let the detainees sleep.
     
    But Vulture, it’s good that you haven’t broken your streak of me seeing what you write and looking at it like a dog looks at their owner making a weird noise.

  57. stewie says:

    Yes CD, we dropped nukes, firebombed civilian populations and did all sorts of things in WWII. THAT was the entire reason we had the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949…to correct some of the morally unacceptable things we and everyone else did in WWII.
    By the way, there is no military historian who will tell you that the firebombings worked. Didn’t work for us, didn’t work for the NAZIs. Just like chemical weapons didn’t work.
     
    Dropping nukes ARGUABLY worked for us in Japan, but we were destined to win at that point, it was simply a matter of how many more people were going to die first. More Japanese and Americans would have died in a land invasion.
     
    I never cease to be amazed at your ignorance of not just the law but military history and military ethics.

  58. Vulture says:

    Stewie.
    I can guarantee you I know more about prison guard misconduct than you do.  I know more about abuse of power of prison guards than you ever will.  I know more about the training it takes for an interrogation than you want to know. I’ll just leave it at that.
     
    Unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes.  Hope my streak is still going strong.

  59. stewie says:

    That’s nice Vulture. It’s irrelevant to the specifics of her case, the specifics of what she and the other relevant Abu Gharib Soldiers did in this case, and the specifics of the training the relevant Abu Gharib Soldiers had of course, but it’s nice for you.

  60. Concerned Defender says:

    Laws of War circa WWI-II.  Effectively and swiftly win wars to end suffering and determine a victor.  Allow a nation to effectively defend itself against tyrannical behavior.   The result was victory over tyranny in short order.  Lots of bloodshed no doubt, but swift resolution.  Each war lasted roughly 4 years before resolved.
     
    Morons like you support the hamstringing and hand-tying of the modern era convoluted nonsensical “gentler” warfare where you gently kill only some of the enemy, let the rest flee to regroup and built more enemies, and then continue to fight.  
     
    The result, we’ve been fighting jihadists since the 1970s.  We half-heartily punch in the air at them.  Kill a few, let the rest regroup and propagandize, etc.  We prosecute some of our own for good measure because we are super moral.  To show the world we are moral (while our married President bangs his secretary and lies under oath sans consequence, and our other President pays off terrorists and sells Uranium to Russia and gives nukes to Iran whilst lying to the American public…). 
     
    EIGHTEEN years of failure.  Longest war(s) in US history.  Longest failures in any war, perhaps in history.  Super embarrassing given the total lopsidedness of it, a super power hamstrung by illiterate goat herders in dresses and sandals using donated guns.   No other nation has ever suffered such lopsided humiliating defeat as the US against nonstate acting illiterate farmers, not even the British losing against the American colonists.  And people like YOU are to blame with your stupid holier-than-thou attitude of superior intellect (when in reality it’s the opposite).
     
    You, sir, are on the wrong side of history.  These absurdly stupid “rules of engagement” do nothing but aid the weaker terrorist nonstate acting forces and hamstring superpowers. 

  61. stewie says:

    Thank goodness your pontifications are confined to a message board.

  62. Concerned Defender says:

    @ Stewie, others who think the modern ROE is successful.
    Big words.
     
    Please point me, and us all to, and educate, with examples of how “kinder and softer” war is successful.  Show us all the resounding victories in big conflicts. 
     
    I see a lot of failures of the nonsense you and others promote with stupid rules that hamstring ourselves on use of force.  Korea – stalemate and ceasefire.  Vietnam – loss.  OEF – swift victory with precision destruction, then drawn out sorta “victory” then loss, then victory, all hamstrung by ROEs. 
     
    Stacked up against.
     
    WWI.  Scorched earth policy, relatively fast 4-5-ish year victory.
    WWII.  Scorched earth policy, relatively fast 4-5ish year victory. 
    Gulf War.  Scorched earth policy and show of force, immediate victory in a week.  Total and complete show of unyielding force caused near instant loss of morale and surrender.
     
    You and like minded folks do nothing but make America weaker with nanny state and bleeding heart nonsense policies.  Prosecuting our own makes folks like you proud for some nonsense altruistic belief when in reality it simply weakens our nation.

  63. Concerned Defender says:

    Correction to the above, since no edit button.  Didn’t properly finish thoughts.
    Loss/stalemate.  OEF.  18 years of failure. 
    OIF.  Immediate victory with proper use of force and precision targeting while attempting minimal collateral damage, followed by endless nonsense ROE that hamstrung us, then a “victory” and retreat, followed by more loss, then proper use of force to reclaim victory, and who knows what now… seems relatively tame after some 15 years of involvement.
     
    How many Americans have to die or be prosecuted over nonsense ROEs that aid the enemy and harm the free world?

  64. jagaf says:

    @CD, just as a side note, given your comments, at this point I’m questioning whether you understand the difference between the LoW and standing, operation or mission-specific RoE.
     
    Over the course of the last 18 years, ours and allied forces have killed plenty of people, including unfortunately a lot of noncombatants, while mostly trying and mostly succeeding in complying with the LoW and our RoE. However, ideas are harder than people to kill and add in religion to that and it becomes even harder. This is not WW2 where the fight is nation state on nation state; we did essentially conquer Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are Salafis and other radicals willing to come and fight from many other places. Do you want us to invade and violently depopulate ever majority Muslim country? Actually, don’t answer that.
     
    I’m not really sure what you are advocating for anyway. Should we be summarily executing prisoners, exacting reprisals against civilians for attacks on our forces? That is not the country that we claim to be, nor is it the country I think the vast majority of us want. Anyway, I know I’m not changing any minds here so you can have the last word. 

  65. stewie says:

    Concerned “the 1949 Geneva Convention is for Wusses” Defender.

  66. 777-300er says:

    @Concerned Defender,
    I’m going to take a wild guess and say you never once deployed or understand how conflict works, and your “notion” of war was learned watching John Wayne movies. If you think we need to invade all these countries and ROE is for idiots, well…..I really don’t know what to say to you.
    And  Gulf War I wasn’t “scorched earth”.  Far from it, actually. We didn’t summarily bomb population centers, and we didn’t shoot prisoners who surrendered. You’ve been reading the wrong books, and I think I’m being generous as to you actually “reading”. 
    Gallagher should’ve been lit up at court martial, just like Lorance.  They committed crimes for which their own fellow servicemembers knew was wrong, and testified against them  Unfortunately, we have a Bone Spur, silver spoon draft avoiding 10-gallon hat and -10 cattle Twitter warrior named Trump who has a warped sense of how things work, thinks Gallagher is a “hero”, and a whole lot of people who apparently agree with him. The guy who had no idea what the Nuclear Triad was, but claimed he knew more about ISIS, war, and combat than “any of the generals.”  
    Oh, CD, please tell me what you mean by “Prosecute real crimes.  Not manufactured ones. ”  Murder isn’t a “real crime?  Trying to cover up said murder isn’t a crime?  News to me.
     

  67. Ed says:

    CD
    You may disagree with ROE.You may be correct.If you disagree vote for someone who will change them. Following orders is imperative in our services. Like them or not. If you violate them you pay a price.Once we don’t follow orders including ROE chaos and anarchy follow.,

  68. Concerned Defender says:

    Ed, I did.  MAGA.  Hopefully Trump’s movement in the direction of exonerating American service members of nonsense allegations/convictions, and using big guns to kill bad guys is moving us away from the nonsense that has hamstrung us for decades.
     
    I was happy to hear that the Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who showed INSUBORDINATION, was relieved of duty.  One more high ranking swamp creature gone.  He is clearly the same TOXIC leader who I experienced when I was defending service members in uniform.   Vengeful, spiteful, disrespectful, and sour grapes behavior.   Ruining a Navy SEAL for posing in a photo with a dead terrorist is total hogwash.  And Gallagher had been exonerated, so to continue this vengeful petty nonsense is a disgrace.  Good riddance Mr. Spencer.  You are the type of leader we do NOT want in the service.  And I’d venture the majority of SEALS side with Trump and Gallagher on this.
     
    Carry on with the esoteric ivory tower law book judgement nonsense that has a poor war-winning track record.  Vietnam.  Korea.  OEF.  Let the war fighters unleashed to actually win wars, which works quite well as it turns out.  Go figure.  Again, war fighting 101 is to commit such violence and show of force against the enemy you crush their will to fight and they surrender.  The ROEs (or LOW to appease jagaf; btw we all know what is being discussed sharpshooter) fail to achieve war-winning goals.  They simply make those not in danger feel good about themselves… for “doing the right thing, yada yada yada nonsense.”

  69. stewie says:

    I always chuckle when non-lawyers think going to law school and passing means you are intelligent.

  70. 777-300ER says:

    @stewie
    I say blame fictional movies and media, who seem to perpetuate the myth that all lawyers are smart, successful, and lead incredibly exciting lives. Reality is…..well, reality, and that doesn’t jive with the fictional narrative.
    @Concerned Defender
    “war fighting 101 is to commit such violence and show of force against the enemy you crush their will to fight and they surrender.”  Did you just pick up an old dog-eared copy of MCDP-1, or did you read a fortune cookie once?
    Theory vs Practice.  I need to keep repeating that.

  71. Anon2 says:

    i’m thankful that CD isn’t advising troops and commanders on the law of war

  72. Concerned Defender says:

    @ the naysayers above.
     
    Never fear, I was entrusted with advising tip-of-the-spear Commanders, operators, and battalion and team elements on LoAC and ROEs, UCMJ, etc. on multiple combat deployment rotations and in garrison and we had ZERO, yes ZERO, NADA, NONE, NOT ONE incident violating LoAC, ROE, etc. over several deployments. So, just because I disagree with the nonsense pushed down, doesn’t mean I advised on violating said rules and laws.  I also successfully directly intervened to prevent a potential serious LoAC violation, and one that I happen to agree with that particular rule.  Thankfully it was all averted.  I’m a commensurate professional and put duty before my opinion.  And for which I received top rated OERs and recognition.   Some of you here have never deployed, never put your life in danger, and are arm-chair commandos who never had your ass in the grass so-to-speak.  Or if you did, your duties carried you from a DFAC to your Quarters to a SCIF and back.  So you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you might think you understand theory but fail entirely to apply it to real life.  I, on the other hand, have “been there and done that.”  
     
    We haven’t, and we won’t, convincingly win wars until we dial back the PC nonsense and Trump is doing just that by putting warheads on foreheads and exonerating our own wrongly charged and accused heroes.  History speaks for itself.  You can pout and name call against me all you want.  The reality is the scoreboard.  We, the USA, were a world leader in helping to defeat Nazism, Totalitarianism, Socialism, and Communism across the globe when we punched the enemy in the face and bombed entire cities and regions into the stone ages until they lost all hope, surrendered, or killed themselves seeing no escape.  That is how you win wars.  Show no mercy, kill them all until they are dead or surrender and stop fighting.  However, the PC Nonsense has caused the US global humiliation, in embarrassing stalemates and losses against far lesser opponents who used these protections as weapons against us.  End result is decades of stalemate against nonstate actors who hide behind nations that protect them sans consequences.  Because they know they have silly protections… 
     
    Trump thankfully seems to be trying to reverse some of this, along with the mistakes of the former embarrassing and idiotic administration in the process.  And draining the swamp along the way.  
     
    I digress.  I’ve said my part.  MAGA.  And get over your Trump Dysfunction Syndromes…  Have a nice day!

  73. stewie says:

    Well you talk like Trump, think like Trump, have the intelligence level of Trump, and now you brag on yourself like Trump. You are definitely two peas in a pod.

  74. Commensurate Professional says:

    I am proportionate to a professional.

  75. af_dc says:

    You guys, he solved it, the conundrum of our time: the reason we’re not winning wars anymore is the Geneva Convention and because we’re being too nice to terrorists. 
    CD wants us to wage war like we did in WWI and WWII, viz, throwing huge numbers of actual human bodies into the machinery of war. Or, better than that, he wants us to sack our enemies’ cities like the Romans did Carthage, to include locking defenders in buildings and then setting them on fire, and enslaving the entire surviving population of the city. Which sounds great and not at all like war planning as conducted by psychopaths. 
    Definitely the postings of a stable genius. 

  76. Concerned Defender says:

    stewie says:
    November 26, 2019 at 1:39 PM  
     

    Well you talk like Trump, think like Trump, have the intelligence level of Trump, and now you brag on yourself like Trump. You are definitely two peas in a pod.

     
    Let’s see:  A successful billionaire, raised a great family, married to a bombshell model.  Leader of the free world.  Best POTUS this nation has seen in perhaps my lifetime.  Defeated at something like 10 to 1 odds against the Clinton corruption machine and corrupt incumbent President with  the deep state working against him by illegal spying, and 90% of the media working against him, and was outspent by something like 100 to 1 dollars.  His IQ reported to be somewhere in the 150s.  Defeated a stage of 16+GOP POTUS candidates before walloping Hillary in the biggest political upset perhaps in history,and a landslide at that given his dismal odds of winning.   Been plagued since election day with consecutive false and fake adverse news stories and allegations by the mentally corrupt and morally bankrupt leftists controlled media and Dimwits, and Trump has defeated every single last nonsensical allegation.  Folks that continually attack him are dimwits, totally intellectually bankrupt, and fraudulent buffoons.  Has tricked, trapped, and otherwise beaten his opponents or made them look really really foolish.
     
    Yeah, if the allegation is I’m like Trump, thank you for the deep compliment.  

  77. jagaf says:

    I propose caaflog users invoke the oldest and most sacred of internet blog tactics: stop feeding the troll. Responding to nonsense like the 3:37 comment is not curing the proponent of his/her/its (in case @Concerned Defender is actually some form of Russian AI…which I almost wish I thought were true) delusions and it’s not advancing this or any other topic. 

  78. Maga says:

    jagaf,
    I absolutely agree with you, I stopped responding awhile back. I just want to say thanks for those who have responded with actual reasons why they dont support what the President has done. Although I do support his decision…. a few have pointed out very legitimate issues as to why one may not support his decision. I personally think its his way of attacking the issues within the UCMJ system. These last 8 to 10 years have really pointed out how the executive branch passes unlawful but highly political bills containing laws which eventually get corrected by the CAAF. If you dont agree read some of their opinions within that time period. Then remind yourself that’s only what their professional positions would allow them to say.

  79. Anonymous says:

    This was an NJP at best, but the Navy couldn’t let it go. The whole sour grapes “we’re going to proceed with a Trident Review Board because we sorta won the court-martial, but lost the punishment” was a joke. Eddie Gallagher is over 20 years, is most likely going to retire, and most likely never deploying as a SEAL again. It was all for embarrassment and optics, however, his attorney threw a hail mary to Trump and it was caught for a touchdown. Cost the SECNAV his job due to his idiocracy. You fall on your sword once, make it count. Big Navy should’ve shut up, colored, and processed that Gallagher retirement application.

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