The US penchant for absolving those in the military who murder foreigners is once again on full display. It begins with the US government hardly ever prosecuting those who commit such crimes and then even on the few occasions when the crime is so egregious that someone is tried and convicted (usually on lesser charges than they deserved), the punishment is often very lenient. But even that is considered too much and presidents often intervene to pardon or commute the sentences. A famous example is how the officers of the troops responsible for the murders of an entire village of Vietnamese people in My Lai were given mere slaps on the wrist.
Donald Trump is continuing that tradition, pardoning a soldier who was convicted of the cold-blooded murder of an Iraqi prisoner.
President Trump has granted a full pardon to former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who was convicted by a military court in 2009 for killing an Iraqi prisoner suspected of being part of al-Qaida. Behenna was initially sentenced to 25 years; he was released on parole in 2014.
Mansur was killed during questioning about a roadside explosion that had killed members of a platoon under Behenna’s command. In military court and in an interview last year, Behenna acknowledged that he had decided to question Mansur on his own, weeks after the Iraqi was initially released because of a lack of direct evidence that could tie him to the explosion.
Mansur was naked when he was shot; Behenna said the prisoner had tried to take his weapon. In his legal appeal, he also said that during the trial, prosecutors had withheld evidence from his defense attorneys.
This Wikipedia article provides more details
According to the interpreter, “Lieutenant Behenna started talking with Ali Mansur and Sergeant Warner followed them. Behenna and Warner started taking off Ali Mansur’s clothes with their knives. They then cut his handcuffs.” Behenna ordered the detainee to sit, the interpreter said, adding that Behenna seemed to be keen to get information from the detainee regarding the IED attack on U.S. troops in April. Behenna asked the detainee several times: “What do you know you have to tell me.” “Ali Mansur said I will talk to you but Lieutenant Behenna pulled trigger and killed him,” the interpreter said, in English. “Before we started the patrol, Lieutenant Behenna told Ali Mansur ‘I will kill you’. I thought Lieutenant Behenna was trying to scare him. I did not think he would go through (with it),” the interpreter added. “I was standing 10 metres back during the shooting – I could see everything even if it was getting dark – and Sergeant Warner was next to me.” Warner then “took the grenade from his pocket, pulled the safety ring, walked around and put the grenade under Ali Mansur’s head. “Then they hid his clothes, and Behenna and Warner went back.” Two U.S. soldiers from the same battalion as the accused also testified against Warner. Corporal Cody Atkinson said that Behenna and Warner, armed with a grenade, took Mansur out of the vehicle and under the bridge.
After the killing, Behenna ordered the platoon back to the base and the next day local villagers found Mansur’s naked, burned body in the culvert.
This was the ‘self defense’ that Behenna claimed.
It appears that Trump is planning on pardoning more war criminals
According to a report in the New York Times, President Trump’s Justice Department filed expedited requests for information on Friday regarding the war crimes cases of accused servicemen, signaling he is considering pardoning them on or before Memorial Day.
One of the service members Trump is looking to pardon is Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who is accused of shooting and killing an unarmed Muslim girl and elderly man from a sniper position and unloading machine gun fire “indiscriminately” into neighborhoods, according to the Times. He also allegedly killed a 15-year-old Islamic State fighter with a knife, then posed for a photo with the fighter’s dead corpse and bragged about it in text messages.
What these pardons do is send the message to US troops in other countries that they are free to act with impunity, even to the extent of murdering children, because they will not suffer any major consequences. But any one who dares to fight back against their occupiers in any way. will be called a terrorist and treated extremely harshly. Freed of such restraints, we should not be surprised to see more war crimes being committed.