Do Americans Really Care About War Crimes?
On Tuesday, the White House announced a list of pardons and clemencies granted by Trump, a standard occurrence in the twilight days of a presidency before a new administration takes office. Included in the list of pardons, however, were some standouts: the president had authorized pardons for four former U.S. service members who were convicted of killing civilians in Iraq while working there as contractors for the notorious defense giant Blackwater in 2007. The so-called Nisour Squad massacre left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, including two children; outside of similar incidents like the 2005 Haditha massacre, the massacre left “lasting stains” on the U.S. military occupation of the country, as the New York Times put it.
War crimes pardons have become a trend for the Trump administration. In May 2019, Trump pardoned former Army Lt. Michael Behenna, who was imprisoned for five years for the killing of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in 2008. The following November, Trump granted pardons to Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn and 1st Lt. Clint Lorance over their respective war crimes charges and restored the rank of Navy Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher to the rank of E-7 following his conviction for unlawfully posing with the body of an ISIS fighter he was accused of killing.
Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper had reportedly urged Trump not to intervene in the latte
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