"Lieutenant Lorance was convicted at trial in 2013 for ordering the shooting of a group of civilians in Afghanistan, an order he then tried to cover up. He was given a full pardon.
Chief Gallagher was charged with the murder of a captive in Iraq but was acquitted this summer of all charges except for the minor charge of posing for a photo with a corpse.
Major Golsteyn was awaiting trial on charges that he murdered an unarmed Afghan in 2010. NY Times
Someone asked me today what I thought of these pardons. This is a tough one because war is inherently violent and violence means killing people as well as the destruction of mere things.
Situations on an active battlefield are often ambiguous and peoples' blood is up in the heat of battle. Are enemy wounded often killed in the midst of an ongoing action? Yes they are and to think that will change is to betray ignorance of what it is to fight. Soldiers are not policemen. They exist to kill people and destroy things in pursuit of their country or movement's policy. If you cannot cope with that reality, then you should campaign endlessly for universal disarmament and an end to nations.
To take some of the edge off the savagery of war, the West developed codes of rules, customs and laws that attempt to impose limits on the conduct of war. These have often been violated. Winston Churchill wrote in "The River War" of the way the completely victorious Anglo-Egyptian Army left the Mahdi Army's wounded to die on the battlefield at Omdurman. There were thousands of them. "Dead men don't bite" was the spirit of the day. The crimes of the Imperial Japanese Army in WW2 were too numerous to need recounting. This in spite of Japan having adhered to the various Geneva Conventions. I have always been strongly opposed to the Strategic Air Power doctrines of various air forces. These concepts were originated by Douhet, Trenchard, Curtis Lemay and many others They can be summarized as advocating bombing civilian populations until they force their governments to surrender.
For the ground forces soldier the basic law of war both international and national is that you do not kill or injure prisoners in your possession so long as they accept their status and you do not deliberately harm civilians so long as they do not take up arms against you. Do you shell towns that you have to attack even though the towns may contain civilians? You do. There seems to be no way to avoid that.
To that end UCMJ is very clear. It is quite well established in US military law that this law will be applied, and I support that policy. In addition to the immorality of of killing the helpless it is true that soldiers who are allowed to kill or maim unarmed people quickly become unmanageable as individuals or as a force.
Any officer with combat experience knows that. pl