Donald Trump has pardoned a former U.S. soldier who was convicted in 2009 of murdering an Iraqi prisoner, paving the way for the White House to pardon more war criminals in the future, according to ABC.
Former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone, has been granted full clemency by Trump, the White House announced. Behenna was paroled in 2014 and would have remained on parole till 2024.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Behenna was a model prisoner and supported by the public. “In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving” of the pardon, Sanders said.
Now let’s talk about what what Behenna actually did.
Behenna acknowledged during his trial that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert, stripped him, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna’s platoon.
Behenna, a native of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said the man moved toward him and he shot him because Behenna thought he would try to take his gun.
So that’s that. Behenna shot a naked, unarmed, most likely terrified man who hadn’t been proved to be a terrorist. Now, he’s been pardoned by the president.
It’s likely that Trump will use this pardon as a precedent in the future to excuse more heinous crimes. Possibilities include Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been accused of executing an Afghan insurgent and burning his body, or Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who has been accused of stabbing a teenager to death, among other crimes.
Fellow conservatives are already rallying behind these heroes.
“What I think we have here is what the U.S. government would call ‘compassionate combat,’” vaping Congressman Duncan Hunter said on Fox & Friends in reference to these men and others in February. “The U.S. government over the last five years under President Bush, and crystalized under President Obama, has wanted us to kill the bad guys, but in the right way. Meaning compassionate and only under the rules of engagement that they say to you.”