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ICYMI: Waltz on Trump’s Military Pardons: We Need to be Careful in Equating Mistakes with War Crimes

Washington, December 12, 2019
Tags: Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz questioned Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley about President Donald Trump’s pardons of Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, cautioning against quickly categorizing mistakes in combat as war crimes.

“We need to be very careful in equating mistakes, perhaps bad judgement calls, calls that may even get you relieved of command, with a war crime,” Waltz said. “I, too, have received many texts and a lot of outreach since these pardons were announced and the majority said ‘that could have been me.’…these split-second decisions – in the heat of combat, making a mistake does not equate to a war crime.”

On Nov. 15, President Trump announced he would be granting a pardon to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering soldiers to fire on Afghan civilians after the civilians sped towards American soldiers on motorcycles. Waltz personally requested President Trump look into Lorance’s case earlier this year.

“We have to be careful with the signals we send – and in this case, a very chilling signal – that if you make a bad call, that you could go to jail for 20 years. And I would ask both of you to consider that going forward,” Waltz said.

Waltz also discussed the continued fight against ISIS terrorism and extremist ideology.

“Would you agree that we are dealing with a multi-generational war against extremism – against an ideology – much like the war we fought against the ideology of communism and that we need a whole of government strategy…to undermine that ideology…[which] frankly, has been lacking over the last 20 years?” Waltz asked.

“Absolutely, I do,” Milley responded. “You have to get to the root causes to delegitimize the ideology.”

A video of the full exchange is available here.

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