WASHINGTON (KFOR) – President Donald Trump pardoned an Oklahoma soldier who was imprisoned for war crimes that include ordering the shooting deaths of civilians in Afghanistan.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, a Hobart, Okla., native who has been serving a 19-year murder sentence in Leavenworth federal prison, was pardoned by Trump on Friday.
A military judge found Lorance guilty in August 2013 for the shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians during a military mission in 2012.
Officials said Lorance ordered an enlisted soldier to open fire on a group of unarmed Afghans.
“One soldier fired two shots at three men who were riding a motorcycle. He missed. The men dismounted their bike and approached Afghan soldiers who were at the front of a mixed U.S. Afghan patrol. The Afghan soldiers asked the three men to leave. Lorance then ordered his platoon’s gun truck to fire on the men, killing two,” an NBC News article states.
Lorance was also found guilty of the attempted murder of a third Afghan citizen who was not injured.
Trump also dismissed charges against Amry Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn, who is accused of killing an Afghan man, and promoted Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was convicted of posing with a dead body.
“The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” said Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement. “These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, ‘when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'”
The ACLU denounced Trump’s actions, calling them an “utterly shameful use of presidential powers,” according to NBC News.
“Trump has sent a clear message of disrespect for law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war,” Hina Shamsi, director of the he group’s National Security Project, said in a statement to NBC.