Sending the wrong message to the military


August 6, 2019 - 11:09 AM

The long history of the U.S. military justice system, which predates the Constitution, offers many examples of the military’s principled devotion to honor and good conduct. Personal responsibility is key. During World War II, for example, the U.S. held more than 1.7 million courts-martial proceedings.

This impressive, independent history seems irrelevant to President Donald Trump, who just ordered the rescinding of seven Navy Achievement Medals and three letters of commendation given to the prosecution team that failed to convict SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of killing an Iraqi prisoner. Such micromanagement and politicization of the military justice system is troubling.

Yes, prosecutors made mistakes. But Trump’s public intervention in the Gallagher case, his May decision to pardon an Army Ranger convicted of murdering an Afghan detainee and the subsequent reports — which the White House did not deny — that he is considering several more full pardons for military men accused or convicted of war crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan send a message to all of America’s military members about what will be tolerated.

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