Former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump’s decision Friday to pardon two Army officers accused of murdering Taliban militants and reinstate Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s full rank after he was demoted for posing with 11 others for a photo alongside a dead ISIS fighter.
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In a Sunday tweet, Biden criticized President Trump’s decision to pardon U.S. Army officers Clint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn and reinstate Gallagher’s rank and said Trump is “not fit to command our troops.” Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL credited with killing Osama Bin Laden, in turn, criticized Biden’s own handling of the elite military raid, Washington Times reported.
Trump’s intervention in the American military justice system to pardon service members accused or convicted of war crimes betrays the rule of law, the values that make our country exceptional & the men and women who wear the uniform honorably. He is not fit to command our troops.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 17, 2019
“Trump’s intervention in the American military justice system to pardon service members accused or convicted of war crimes betrays the rule of law, the values that make our country exceptional & the men and women who wear the uniform honorably,” Biden said in his tweet.
You said “no” to the bin Laden raid. Then you announced “SEAL Team Six” when we did it. I still had my body armor on when you turned my life around. How dare you… https://t.co/EveMzo0qUE
— Robert J. O’Neill (@mchooyah) November 18, 2019
O’Neill countered Biden’s criticism of the controversial pardons by accusing Biden of saying “no” to carrying out the Bin Laden raid and then disclosed the otherwise secretive actions of SEAL Team Six.
According to prior Washington Examiner reporting some family members of slain SEAL Team Six members believe the disclosure of their involvement in the Bin Laden raid likely put them at risk of targeting and contributed to several of the team’s members being shot down and killed in a later operation.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper reportedly urged Trump not to intervene in the military justice system but Trump proceeded with the controversial decision. In his announcement of the decision, Trump said he wanted U.S. service members overseas to have the confidence to fight with the support of leaders back home.
Gallagher was cleared of the primary charge that he murdered a captured ISIS insurgent; he was, however, sentenced to a rank reduction from that of Chief Petty Officer to a rank of Petty Officer First Class over the photo with the dead ISIS fighter — the only one of 12 photographed unit members to be charged with the act.
Lt. Lorance was sentenced to 20 years in prison for giving an order to kill two suspected Taliban militants while in Afghanistan in July 2012. Lorance believed the two militants to be scouts previously identified by a military pilot.
Maj. Golsteyn also faced charges for his admitted February 2010 killing of a Taliban bomb maker he believed killed several men in his unit. He was cleared on initial charges of killing the bomb maker due to insufficient evidence, but charges were brought up again in December 2018.
O’Neill has been a critic to politicians on both sides of the political aisle. In February of 2018 he even called a Trump proposal for a military parade a “third world bullshit” idea.