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President Trump could pardon Gallagher, Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers on Memorial Day
President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.
The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.
The president has already voiced support for Gallagher, who is accused of killing a wounded ISIS fighter with his knife, and Golsteyn, who has admitted to killing an unarmed suspected Taliban bomb-maker. Trump had Gallagher released from pretrial confinement by tweeting that he should be moved to a less restrictive environment and he promised to personal review Golsteyn's case, calling the former Green Beret a "U.S. military hero."
Tim Parlatore, Gallagher's civilian attorney, welcomed the possibility of a pardon but stressed he is still working on his client's defense.
"Our primary desire is for Chief Gallagher to go home to his family," Parlatore told Task & Purpose. "Chief Gallagher is innocent of these charges and we are still preparing to exonerate him in court. However, if the president chooses either through a pardon or dismissal to end this nightmare early and send Chief Gallagher home to his family, he would be eternally grateful."
Golsteyn's civilian attorney Philip Stackhouse issued a statement to Task & Purpose saying news that Trump may pardon his client validates Golsteyn's actions.
"We put our warriors in the most difficult situations imaginable and ask them to do the unthinkable: kill," Stackhouse said. "When faced with life or death situations on the battlefield, I think we should take a very hard look at ourselves before attempting to second-guess warrior's decisions made 5, 6, 7000 miles away in a complex kinetic environment, with little to no sleep, and with the weight of war on their shoulders.
"I trust Matt Golsteyn's decisions on the battlefield because of who he is and it seems the president does as well. Army leadership might think about trusting its warriors combat decision making, i.e. Matt's decision making, in the moment vice second guessing with the luxury of time, space, and hindsight."
While the president has not made such comments about the scout snipers who were videotaped urinating on the Taliban dead in 2011, his former lawyer John Dowd had petitioned to have the Marines' records cleared following a military appeals court ruling that then-Commandant Marine Gen. James Amos committed unlawful command influence by telling the first general officer in charge of investigating the case that he wanted the Marines "crushed."
Dowd declined to comment on Saturday.
Guy Womack, a civilian attorney who represented one of the Scout Snipers, Staff Sgt. Rob Richards, told Task & Purpose on Saturday that he requested a presidential pardon shortly after Trump took office but he has not heard from the White House yet.
Richards pleaded guilty at an August 2013 summary court-martial to failure to obey a lawful general order and failure to maintain good order and discipline. Richards was medically retired as a corporal and died a year later of toxicity from one of his prescription medications.
Womack noted that Richards' widow will graduate from law school next weekend.
"It would a great gift for her," Womack said.
SEE ALSO: Two Navy SEAL war crimes trials may be 'derailed' over claims prosecutors spied on the defense
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The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.
The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.
Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.
Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.
There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.
The Air Force is investigating whether an airman smoked weed at a missile alert facility for nuclear Minuteman ICBMs
The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.