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Trump says he may pardon soldiers accused of war crimes – National

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Trump says he may pardon soldiers accused of war crimes National

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President Donald Trump said Friday that he has been considering pardons for several American military members accused of war crimes, including headline-grabbing cases of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive.


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Trump, leaving the White House for a trip to Japan, said he was “looking” at the pardons after being asked about reports that he was considering clemency for the soldiers around the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard and long,” the president said. “You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight, sometimes they get really treated very unfairly.”

But, Trump cautioned, “I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t made any decisions.”

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“There’s two or three of them right now,” the president continued. “It’s a little bit controversial. It’s very possible that I’ll let the trials go on, and I’ll make my decision after the trial.”

A number of veterans groups have registered opposition to the possible pardons, including one that could reportedly go to Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL. Gallagher is charged with killing a wounded Islamic State prisoner under his care in Iraq in 2017.

Dozens of Republican congressmen have championed Gallagher’s cause, claiming he’s an innocent war hero being unfairly prosecuted. Trump got him moved from the brig to better confinement in a military hospital with access to his lawyers and family.


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Prosecutors said Gallagher fatally stabbed a wounded teenage Islamic State fighter, shot two civilians in Iraq and opened fire on crowds. Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to all counts. His lawyers said that he did not murder anyone and that disgruntled SEALs made the accusations because they wanted to get rid of a demanding platoon leader.

Several major veterans groups said they had not been consulted by the White House about the possible pardons and were not provided with information they had requested about who was being considered and why.

Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, urged Trump to exercise caution and not rush to act before Memorial Day, expressing concern that pardons could be issued before trials were held or fully adjudicated.

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“These are not the types of decisions to be rushed and should be made after long and careful consideration,” he said. “We want to hear from the administration as to their rationale — what additional information they have and why they are taking this course.”

The Vietnam Veterans of America said it was opposed to the idea of issuing pardons to those accused or convicted of war crimes, which they believe could sidestep justice. Officials there said they saw no reason for the U.S. to deviate from its norm of abiding by the code of conduct and the Nuremberg principles, as embodied in the Universal Code of Military Justice, for more than 70 years.

“It is mind-blowing that these are the persons this administration is considering for pardons,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, an associate director for policy and chief investigator at Vietnam Veterans of America.


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A number of influential Trump outside advisers have pushed the president to pardon the soldiers. Others believed to be considered for pardons are Mathew Golsteyn, a former U.S. Army commando being charged with murder for killing a suspected Taliban bombmaker in Afghanistan, and Nicholas Slatten, one of four former Blackwater guards who were found guilty at trial in the fatal shooting of unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad traffic circle.

Prosecutors argued that Slatten, of Sparta, Tennessee, fired the first shots in a massacre that left more than a dozen dead and many others injured. His attorney has said that’s not the case and pointed to statements that he says show another member of the Blackwater team initiated the shooting.

The case took a long and winding path over the course of a decade. An appeals court in 2017 overturned the first guilty verdict against Slatten, ruling that he should have been tried separately from his three co-defendants. A second trial ended in a mistrial, and he was found guilty of murder last December in a third trial in federal court in Washington. He was sentenced to life in prison.


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Slatten, who joined Blackwater after leaving the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, has long maintained his innocence.

Trump had said in December that he would be “reviewing” the case against Golsteyn, calling him a “U.S. Military hero” who could face the death penalty “from our own government.” The former Green Beret could face the death penalty if convicted.

Golsteyn was charged with killing the suspected bombmaker during a 2010 deployment in Afghanistan. Golsteyn was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops at the time and believed that the man was responsible for an explosion that killed two U.S. Marines.

The possible pardons were first reported by The New York Times.



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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