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Trump pardons US war criminals and undermines rule of law

President Donald Trump’s grant of full pardons to four Blackwater security contractors convicted of murder and other offenses for slaughtering 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 represents more than failed leadership. His exoneration of American war criminals makes the jobs of current U.S. service members harder and degrades national security.

These pardons will undermine respect for rule of law among our armed forces and security contractors entrusted with lethal power overseas, and complicate commanders’ efforts to ensure respect for rule of law during military operations. These legal exonerations also lessen our nation’s safety by signaling that Americans can get away with anything in war, a potent recruiting message for ISIS and similar terrorists. And they will undermine our allies’ trust in us.

The Blackwater contractors Trump pardoned are not heroes deserving of sympathy for bad decisions made in the fog of war. Their trials — seven years of proceedings that required an extraordinary commitment to wartime accountability by Department of Justice professionals who refused to allow impunity for this deadly rampage by Americans — exposed the brutal reality of the contractors’ indifference to innocent lives.

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