When a report from the New York Times broke that said President Donald Trump “is showing signs he will pardon several servicemen accused of war crimes” and that the troops may be pardoned near Memorial Day, Glenn Kirschner, a former prosecutor who spent six years as an Army JAG had something to say about the matter.
Kirschner, in a 12-part Twitter thread, asserted that the notion of pardoning the war criminals “makes me sick,” and then outlined his reasoning for being against the possible pardons.
“As a former career prosecutor, including 6 years as an Army JAG, this makes me sick. Please bear with me as this will take a minute: Our military criminal justice system protects the rights of soldiers accused of crimes as well as, if not better then, many civilian systems,” Kirschner began.
“It’s rarely an easy decision to prosecute a soldier, particularly for crimes committed during a time of war or otherwise in a hostile environment. But we expect, indeed demand, that our soldiers not commit murder/war crimes/atrocities while in military service.”
Kirschner then asserted that soldiers need to “act in a law abiding way even under the most difficult of circumstances,” adding that “Military commanders & prosecutors often agonize over decisions whether to charge a soldier with a criminal [offense]” at least partially “because we recognize the sacrifices soldiers make for their country, putting their lives on the line to protect our people & our freedoms.”
He also contends that military members receive “excellent legal representation & fair trials,” noting that a significant amount of time and energy go into the process.
Kirschner then states that he believes Trump is using the pardons as a “twisted Memorial Day celebration” and outlines the nature of one of the pardons that is reportedly being considered.
He adds that his “former office, the DC US Attorney’s Office, prosecuted the case, obtained convictions & brought justice to the surviving victims & the families of the dead (I didn’t work on the case),” while noting that he witnessed “the enormous time, energy & resources that went into that prosecution.”
“It was important that the perpetrators of those horrific offenses were brought to justice,” Kirschner wrote. “Now Trump, in a twisted, grotesque ‘celebration’ of Memorial Day, wants to pardon these and other murderers?! What message is he really trying to send to the military?”
As the Memorial Day holiday draws near, it still isn’t clear whether Trump will actually decide to go forward with the pardons.