‘A shocking and unprecedented intervention’: Ex-Navy Secretary blasts Trump for excusing war crimes

  • 11/28/2019 9:33 am ET Sunny Hundal
'Shocking and unprecedented': Fired Navy Secretary says Trump putting officers at risk

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Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has published a brutal op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday.

Spencer was fired from his role as Navy Secretary a few days ago in part because he disagreed with the President’s decision to pardon a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes.

Key point:

“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review. It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Why war crimes matter

Spencer explains why soldiers should be held accountable:

“We are effective overseas not because we have the best equipment but because we are professionals. Our troops are held to the highest standards. We expect those who lead our forces to exercise excellent judgment. The soldiers and sailors they lead must be able to count on that.”

Why the Navy Pin mattered

“Given my desire to resolve a festering issue, I tried to find a way that would prevent the president from further involvement while trying all avenues to get Gallagher’s file in front of a peer-review board. Why? The Naval Special Warfare community owns the Trident pin, not the secretary of the Navy, not the defense secretary, not even the president. If the review board concluded that Gallagher deserved to keep it, so be it.”

But the President did intervene, and the former Navy Secretary says the rule must be changed to prevent further such interventions.

Why this matters

Such a public spat will not only lower morale at the Navy, but it will also have a knock-on effect on the other branches too. It also sends a message to our soldiers that they can get away with breaking the rules if they can persuade Trump they love him.

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