To the Editor:
It is never right to celebrate war crimes. Regardless of the cause, it is wrong to justify the murder of civilians (men, women and children) in a war zone, just because the perpetrators are intimidated in a foreign environment that they voluntarily put themselves into. Pardoning someone who has committed such a crime, which under international law is a war crime, is an outrage and does great harm to the reputation of the United States worldwide including our military.
But that is exactly what President Trump has done. He did this by deciding to pardon four Blackwater contractors, including Rochester native Evan Liberty, who were properly tried and convicted by a jury of the equivalent of war crimes when his group killed dozens and wounded many Iraqi civilians during an incident in 2007 at Nisour Square in Baghdad.
These Blackwater contractors were not part of the U.S. military. In fact, my U.S. army veteran son, who served in Iraq, told me that these contractors were despised by the regular U.S. military because they operated without oversight or accountability and were paid at least twice as much as our U.S. military members to boot. Also, after every serious incident caused by these contractors (like the 2007 incident), it was the regular U.S. army, like my son, who had to clean-up after them, and who had to deal with the wrath of the Iraqi people involved. The regular army, if involved in such incidents as that of the contractors, would have been court-martialed and imprisoned.
In addition, while the President does have the right to pardon, there is a pardon process that candidates go through to determine if there is good reason for granting a pardon. Good reasons would include: a miscarriage of justice, a perceived punishment that was too severe, or circumstances deemed unfair. All of these go hand and hand with a candidate’s remorse for their actions. The President subverted that process by ignoring it entirely, and has made clear to the world that he does not abide laws of decency or international laws, if they do not serve his purposes.
We should not join him, by extending any respect to those who commit such war crimes.
Rep. Peter Somssich, District 27
Some New Hampshire residents might be tempted to cut a local resident serving in a war zone a little slack; we know we are—tempted. Generations of Iraqis, though, are sure to remember the Nisour Square incident as an entirely unjustified massacre conducted by arrogant American criminals—and they’re right. Trump’s pardon overturned the results of a fair trial.
Justice will come when the George W.[MD] Bush administration and Eric Prince face the consequences of their privatization of military affairs.