In yet another sordid example of Dictator-wannabe Donald Trump’s corrupt presidency, the draft dodger use used a doctor’s lie to obtain an undeserved military deferment during the Vietnam War used his lack of military regulations and protocol to save the career of a discredited Navy SEAL who deserved far more punishment.
“One key reason Donald Trump’s presidency has been so damaging is that he has a way of corrupting all the people and institutions he comes in contact with,” writes columnist Paul Walkman in The Washington Post, “infecting them with his virus. No one remains untouched.”
Trump’s latest immoral and questionable impulses pardoned the criminal actions of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was court martialed for firing on civilains and murdering a wounded teenage Islamic State fighter receiving medical treatment from his unit.
Gallagher allegedly stabbed the wounded fighter multiple times, then took a picture with his corpse and texted it to friends, with the caption “Got him with my hunting knife.” He was also charged with covering up his crime by threatening to kill members of his platoon if they reported it. They did anyway.
Gallagher’s trial was a chaotic mess marred by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct and a witness who abruptly changed his story on the stand. In the end, Gallagher was acquitted of murder but convicted of posing with the corpse, a violation of the laws of war.
Then Trump pardoned him, along with two other service members who had also been accused of war crimes.
Trump also ordered defense secretary Mark T. Esper to fire defense secretary Richard Spencer, who tried to put the law and miltary regulations ahead of Trump’s questionable acts.
President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. Before the trial began, in March, I received two calls from the president asking me to lift Gallagher’s confinement in a Navy brig; I pushed back twice, because the presiding judge, acting on information about the accused’s conduct, had decided that confinement was important. Eventually, the president ordered me to have him transferred to the equivalent of an enlisted barracks. I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the case stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media.
On Nov. 14, partly because the president had already contacted me twice, I sent him a note asking him not to get involved in these questions. The next day, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called me and said the president would remain involved. Shortly thereafter, I received a second call from Cipollone, who said the president would order me to restore Gallagher to the rank of chief.
The Navy established a review board to decide the status of Gallagher’s Trident pin. According to long-standing procedure, a group of four senior enlisted SEALs would rule on the question. This was critical: It would be Gallagher’s peers managing their own community. The senior enlisted ranks in our services are the foundation of good order and discipline.
But the question was quickly made moot: On Nov. 21, the president tweeted that Gallagher would be allowed to keep his pin — Trump’s third intervention in the case. I recognized that the tweet revealed the president’s intent.
Trump’s intent, as he proves with his controversial and often illegal actions, is to meddle in matters that should be left to the professionals. He proves time and again that he has the impulse control of a child bully. His acts are hurting military morale, especially in a special forces unit that is on the front lines in to many covert actions.
CNN reports that at least two senior officers expressed reluctance to stand alongside Trump in recent months.
Senior commanders are asking the Pentagon for approval to send out memos to to troops reminding them of their moral and legal responsibilities in the battlefield.
Retired Marine Corps Col. David Lapan says Trump’s actions creates “confusion, there’s chaos, and it makes it appear like, as if there’s really not accountability, that if people violate their oath or commit crimes, there’s a way out,”
Lapan said division in military ranks creates “two camps” and adds: “Half are ardent Trump supporters that believe the President is watching out for the troops.”
Spencer, in an interview with CBS, says Trump “fails to understand the full definition of a warfighter. “A warfighter is a profession of arms and a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to, and they hold themselves to.”
Trump likes to call SEALS like Gallagher “my warfighters.”
“This is not who we are,” says one disgusted SEAL. “We must not be subject to the orders of a dangerous madman.”
Military leaders feel Trump’s impulses are reaching a breaking point.
“It may not break, but it sure the hell is being bent by this and increasingly becoming brittle,” says former commander Mark Hertling, who commanded the U.S. Army in Europe. “Senior leaders … if they’re confused about what the missions are, what the strategy is, they have to put on a poker face. And sometimes the things they’re being asked to do are impossible and go against all of their military experience and knowledge.”
Gen Joseph Dunford, who recently retired, says Trump is “tone-deaf.” Shortly before his retirement, he questioned Trumps attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Official. who revealed many of Trump questionable and potentially illegal acts in blocking designated federal funds for needed military aid to Ukraine demanding the government there open an “investigation” into potential presidential opponent Joe Biden.
Dunford called Vindman “a professional, competent, patriotic, and loyal officer. He has made an extraordinary contribution to the security of our Nation in both peacetime and combat.”
“He says ‘my generals’ and ‘my military,'” says Hertling. “He sees the military as belonging to him as opposed to belonging to the nation.”
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