As the nation mourns its fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, it was also subjected to a sitting U.S. congressman unashamedly admitting that he is guilty of the same type of criminal behavior as the Navy SEAL that President Trump is contemplating pardoning for war crimes.
Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) told an audience in Ramona, a town in his district near San Diego, that like Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher who is being charged with war crimes, he too had posed with the body of a dead enemy.
“Eddie did one bad thing that I’m guilty of too — taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid,” Hunter said to the crowd at an immigration forum.
Congressman Hunter — a former Marine and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan — said that both he and “a lot of my peers…have done the exact same thing.”
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The sad revelation begs the question as to why Rep. Hunter was not caught and court-martialed — as were so many other soldiers who violated their code of conduct and the Geneva Convention by mistreating dead bodies — rather than being allowed to return to civilian life and going on to a career in Congress.
Hunter’s admission came after the moderator at the American Liberty Forum of Ramona asked the congressman how he felt about President Trump’s consideration of pardoning Gallagher who is also charged with a wounded teenaged ISIS prisoner.
The congressman’s answer differed significantly from the multitude of military experts who see the possibility of a pardon for Gallagher as a dangerous breakdown of the rule of law and troop discipline as well as a violation of international rules of engagement and a danger to the safety of captured American military personnel.
Hunter told the moderator that he would “absolutely” see Trump pardon Gallagher but wanted it done after the soldier’s court-martial so America can “see how disgusting the military justice system is when it’s run by lawyers and bureaucrats [who] go after the war-fighter.”
Given Rep. Hunter’s own legal troubles — an indictment for illicitly using campaign funds for his own expenses and for leisure travel — his contempt for the criminal justice system is both deeply personal and antithetical to his duties as a federal lawmaker.
Not only is his support for Trump’s previously unthinkable pardon plans reprehensible, but his own fractured ethics are also compounded by his admission of the identical character flaws that the murderous Navy SEAL possesses.
Hunter’s behavior and attitude prove that it is not only President Trump who needs to be removed from office as soon as possible but also his bevy of Republican enablers who are as condemnable as he is.
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Original reporting by Ken Stone at The Times of San Diego.