Checks and Balances: Guy Reschenthaler applauds Trump’s war crime pardons

By December 10, 2019 No Comments

By the Pittsburgh Current

Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) recently went on record approving Donald Trump’s decision to pardon three people who are accused or convicted war criminals. The word he used, by the way, was “applaud.” He applauded Trump’s decision.

While being careful to point out that the military must function with rules and that “war-fighters” (his term) have to act under the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and the rule of law, Reschenthaler also said: 

“What I’m saying is that there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct. There’s a lot of political correctness that is, unfortunately, at play in the military right now and I really think that started with the last administration.” 

And here’s the sound of one Reschenthaler clapping:

“I applaud [Trump’s] reversal of mindset because this will allow the war-fighters to focus on the mission and not have that fear in the back of their head that they’re going to be wrongfully prosecuted stateside.”

If I may, it appears that our Guy in The House thinks that the military’s (Obama administration-imposed ) politically correct mindset is getting in the way of our “war-fighters” ability to complete their missions as each “war-fighter” is going to be worrying about getting prosecuted back home for doing something politically incorrect rather than accomplishing that mission.

Well, who were the pardoned/commuted? What sort of “politically incorrect” things did they do?

Let’s take a look.

Major Mathew Golsteyn had been accused of murder, though he’d yet to go to trial. In a job interview with the CIA, he admitted to capturing and shooting an “unknown, unarmed Afghani male.” He later went back to cremate the body and bury the remains. In the CIA interview, he said that he knew his actions were illegal but he was not remorseful because he said he had solid intelligence that he was protecting his team. 

His reprimand stated that he admitted to violating a Law of Armed Conflict, though the document doesn’t say which one. Perhaps it was the one that says, “Do not harm enemies who surrender; disarm them and turn them over to your superiors.” If he captured an unknown Afghani man and shot him instead of turning him over to his superiors, Major Golsteyn certainly looks guilty of violating that law. 

Representative Reschenthaler, what aspect of “political correctness” is being confronted by pardoning Major Golsteyn before his Court Martial even took place?

First Lieutenant Clint Allen Lorance had been found guilty “of attempted murder, murder, wrongfully communicating a threat, reckless endangerment, soliciting a false statement, and obstructing justice in violation of Articles 80, 118, and 134 Uniform Code of Military Justice” and he was sentenced to almost two decades in prison.

According to the appellate court that denied him a new trial, this is one of the things Lt Lorance did:

As they approached the Entry Control Point (ECP), appellant encountered an Afghan villager with a young child. The villager was asking to move some concertina wire on the road leading to Strong Point Payenzai that was impeding his ability to work on his farm. Appellant told the villager that if he touched the concertina wire, he and his family would be killed. Appellant conveyed the seriousness of his message by pulling back the charging handle of his weapon and pointing the weapon at the young child. 

And then there was the time he ordered the men under his command to fire upon some civilians who  “had no observable weapons or radios, and were not displaying any hostility toward U.S. or Afghan forces.” 

He then covered up the event by ordering the soldier under his command who was responsible for doing the Battle Damage Assessments NOT to perform those duties. Instead Lt Lorance ordered two untrained soldiers to make the assessments. The appellate court then stated: 

After the two soldiers conducted a cursory inspection of the victims, appellant told the gathered villagers to take the bodies. The soldiers did not find any weapons, explosives or communications gear on the bodies. Appellant then told the radio transmission operator (RTO) to report over the radio that a BDA could not be done because the bodies were removed before the platoon could get to them. 

Representative Reschenthaler, what aspect of “political correctness” is being confronted by pardoning Lt Lorance of the crimes the military had already found him guilty of committing?

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was acquitted of six war crimes charges and convicted of one violation of article 134 of the UCMJ – specifically, posing for photos with a teenage captive’s dead body. The charge sheet said that such conduct “was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces and of a nature to bring discredit to the armed forces.”  The guilty verdict brought a sentence of four months in prison (which Gallagher had already served) and a reduction in rank to Petty Officer First Class. In bringing the charges, prosecutors said Gallagher allegedly texted a photo of himself cradling a dead ISIS fighter’s head in one hand, his knife in the other. This is probably what the prosecutors were thinking when they charged him with “bringing discredit to the armed forces.”

Representative Reschenthaler, what aspect of “political correctness” is being confronted by pardoning Petty Officer Gallagher of the crime the military had already found him guilty of committing?

Representative Reschenthaler stated very clearly the need for the military to abide by the UCMJ and the rule of law and yet he applauds Donald Trump’s interference with those very safeguards against military misconduct. For what? To protest “political correctness”?

How were any of these proceedings “politically correct”?

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