Navy Secretary Breaks With Trump In War Criminal Procedings

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Among the many other marks of his ongoing belligerence, President Donald Trump recently granted clemency to individuals facing war crimes charges. Those figures include Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was brought before a military tribunal over reportedly firing on defenseless civilians and even posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter that he’d reportedly killed. Although Gallagher was acquitted of charges related to the fighter’s murder and barrages against the civilians, he’s still slated to face a decision from a group of peers as to whether he can keep his membership in the SEALs following a conviction over the posed photograph. In direct opposition to the president’s demands, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer says those proceedings should keep going.

Spencer said:

‘I believe the process matters for good order and discipline… I think we have a process in place, which we’re going forward with, and that’s my job.’

Both Trump and Gallagher’s defense team have lashed out at the suggestion that the military will be continuing down a path to possibly kicking the disgraced soldier out of his position. Although Trump demanded that his already lowered rank and pay be raised back up, Reuters notes that “Navy brass notified Gallagher… that a… panel of fellow Navy commandos would convene on Dec. 2 to review his case and recommend whether the decorated platoon leader is fit to remain in the SEALs” no matter what the president has said.

Trump tweeted:

‘The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!’

Gallagher’s civilian defense lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, suggested that the president would be prone to firing Spencer and the commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Collin Green, who signed off on the review hearings.

Discussing Spencer, Parlatore railed:

‘What he’s saying is that, for the sake of good order and discipline, we must disobey the president… Let’s see if Green and the Navy secretary are even still around tomorrow.’

Trump has a documented history of favoring brutality being carried out by U.S. forces. For example, during the 2016 campaign season, he attracted some of his lots of scrutiny by asserting, among other things, that torture should be used against detainees. More recently, he was reportedly into the idea that his CIA director nominee Gina Haspel had a history of even partly leading torture in one of her previous, lower level roles. At least on the record, Haspel ended up asserting that she’d not be allowing any re-imposition of torture while she was on the job as director, and she ended up rebuffing the president at another point, too.

She was among the intelligence chiefs who went through point-by-point de facto rebuttals of the president’s stance around Iran and North Korea during a high profile public Congressional hearing. Trump claimed reporting on her rebuttals was fake news, but she delivered them on camera.

For all his gusto, Trump has fumbled key operations, not that he had much on his side going in to begin with. He abruptly announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria that constituted a de facto green light for ISIS to resurge.