The United States has a heinous record when it comes to committing war crimes. Even more heinous, however, is the fact that commander in chief after commander in chief continue to pardon those convicted of these unspeakable acts. As whistleblowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden rot in prison or exile, military personnel who’ve slaughtered civilians are receiving pardon after pardon. President Donald Trump has continued to walk down this shameful road by pardoning war criminals.
Since taking office on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has granted executive clemency to 45 individuals charged or convicted of federal criminal offenses. From low level fraudsters to media moguls to racketeers, Trump has used his executive power to overturn the convictions of dozens of criminals. Most notable, however are his pardons for war criminals, while whistleblowers — whose contributions to humanity are vast — rot away in solitude.
A year ago, Trump pardoned a former lieutenant in the US Army who was convicted of ordering his troops to slaughter innocent civilians. While on deployment in Afghanistan, First Lt. Clint Lorance ordered his soldiers to start firing at 3 random civilians on motorcycles. They did. Two of them died.
Todd Fitzgerald witnessed Lorance order his platoon to fire at three unarmed men on a motorcycle, killing two. Fitzgerald testified against Lorance in a 2013 trial. Lorance was convicted and spent six years in prison until Trump pardoned him on Nov. 15, 2019.
During the trial, multiple members from 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment testified against Lorance for issuing these murderous orders. Yet still, Trump found it necessary to free him.
That’s not all.
Ali Mansur Mohamed was shot and killed in 2008. The man who killed him, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, was found guilty of unpremeditated murder for Mansur’s death and sentenced to 25 years in 2009. Last year, president Donald Trump issued Behenna a full pardon.
On November 25, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive grant of clemency, otherwise known as a pardon, to Retired U.S. Army General Michael Flynn. The sweeping pardon cleared the former national security adviser of any crimes he might have committed connected to the Mueller investigation despite the former general admitting to multiple crimes. One week later and the retired general seemingly thanked Trump by demanding that the president declare martial law.
As the pardons for war criminals continued to roll out, high-level military commanders were orced to speak out against it, claiming, and rightfully so, that these pardons undermine the military justice system as well as America’s moral authority. After all, if we grant immunity to murderers, what grounds to we have to stand on when invading and occupying foreign countries — to give them some “freedom”? What’s more is the fact that pardoning these war criminals then justifies their behaviors, turning them from murderers into martyrs and even heroes.
“The tragedy of pardoning (Lt. Clint) Lorance isn’t that he will be released from prison – I’ve found room for compassion there,” Patrick Swanson, Lorance’s commander in Afghanistan told The New York Times. “The tragedy is that people will hail him as a hero.”
There is nothing heroic about ordering troops to slaughter unarmed civilians — mistakenly or not. Nevertheless, Americans still beat on their chests, chanting “USA! USA!” blindly claiming the moral high ground.
Making this entire situation that much more insidious is the fact that true heroes, whose actions have exposed criminals, shed light on the surveillance state, and given Americans a glimpse into the horrors of war, like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, have rotted and are rotting in prison or exiled while pardons are doled out to murderers and fraudsters. A travesty, indeed.
As TFTP reported last April, several men in black suits, surrounded by a dozen cops, raided the Ecuadorian embassy in London and kidnapped Julian Assange. Moments later, the Department of Justice released a statement charging Assange with computer hacking “conspiracy” for allegedly working with US Army soldier at the time, Chelsea Manning.
According to the DOJ, Assange’s roll in the alleged conspiracy with Manning was encouraging her to provide more information—something that any journalist worth their salt would be doing. This move has amounted to little more than the blatant criminalization of journalism.
The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it's the criminalization of journalism pic.twitter.com/GXNjWlkFZw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 11, 2019
Not only did Trump refuse to step in and pardon one of the the key players whose information leaks arguably led to him winning the presidency but he went on the offensive against him.
Shortly after being kidnapped from the Embassy at the behest of the Trump administration’s Department of Justice, a kangaroo court was setup to railroad the journalist.
A London court ruled on May 1 that Assange was guilty of “violating bail conditions,” and he was sentenced to a 50-week internment at a high-security Belmarsh prison—a sentence United Nations human rights experts called “disproportionate” over such a “minor violation.”
Assange now faces extradition to the United States where he will be further prosecuted for “conspiracy” for doing nothing other than exposing war crimes of the West.
Despite hundreds of thousands of calls — directly aimed at Trump — to pardon Assange, Trump still refuses.
On Monday, Trump’s personal pastor Tweeted that Trump will pardon Assange.
where are you getting this information??
— Matt Agorist (@MattAgorist) December 14, 2020
Skeptics like myself demanded Burns show proof of these claims and after giving false hope to Assange, his family, and millions of supporters. Burns later admitted he made a mistake, but still left up his original tweet.
Regarding #JulianAssange tweet, Inadvertent tweet, faulty source, please disregard!
— Pastor Mark Burns (@pastormarkburns) December 14, 2020
Julian Assange is a hero. His actions helped to expose horrifying crimes carried out by the US government, including mowing down innocent journalists with a .50 cal. His persecution by the UK and the US is undoubtedly retaliation and punishment for exposing these crimes.
There is also talk of Trump pardoning Edward Snowden, however, until that day comes, myself and others remain extremely skeptical. Though Trump has claimed that he will look into a Snowden pardon, explaining at a news briefing in August that he was “very strongly” considering it, those words — like so many of the words that come out of Trump’s face — have failed to materialize into anything of substance.
What’s more, it was determined this year that the crimes exposed by Snowden were legitimate and constituted a violation of Americans’ rights — essentially vindicating him. However, Trump has still failed to act.
Those who continue to advocate for Snowden and Assange to remain unpardoned are essentially war hawks, war criminals and confused individuals whose party leaders have mislead them away from supporting the quest for truth. In fact, daughter of one of the most famous war criminals in US history, Liz Cheney, claimed in a Tweet that pardoning Snowden “would be unconscionable.”
Edward Snowden is a traitor.
He is responsible for the largest and most damaging release of classified info in US history.
He handed over US secrets to Russian and Chinese intelligence putting our troops and our nation at risk.
Pardoning him would be unconscionable.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) December 13, 2020
She was quickly put in her place by Twitter, namely Glenn Greenwald who called her family “bloodthirsty neocon warmongers and monsters” and accused her of owing her career to “the nepotistic accident that [she] happened to have the same last name as a war criminal and historic liar.”
The idea that a journalist is being held in solitary confinement on a whim from this administration, and also faces the possibility of being “disappeared” in a US black site prison after his extradition, is utter insanity. Equally insane is the fact that a man who risked life in prison to expose crimes against Americans by their government — forever altering the course of the police state — is exiled in Russia.
How much longer can we go down a road in which murder is celebrated and truth is prosecuted before it all comes crashing down in a hellfire of smoke and ash? My guess is, not so long….