Former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill has criticized former Vice President Joe Biden after he claimed that President Trump was “not fit to command” U.S. troops.
The criticism comes after the president pardoned three U.S. military personnel who were accused of war crimes, including killing a suspected Taliban bomb-maker, taking photographs of an ISIS terrorist’s corpse, and killing two civilians.
Biden, who reportedly opposed the 2011 raid to kill Osama bin Laden, said that the president’s intervention to grant clemency to Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and restore the rank of Edward R. Gallagher, betrayed the “rule of law” and thereby rendered him “not fit to command our troops.”
Trump’s intervention in the American military justice system to pardon service members accused or convicted of war crimes betrays the rule of law, the values that make our country exceptional & the men and women who wear the uniform honorably. He is not fit to command our troops.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) 17 November 2019
In announcing the pardons, the president said, “When our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.”
“The president, as commander in chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Nov. 15.
O’Neill, who is credited with killing Osama bin Laden, accused Biden for not supporting the 2011 raid, and for disclosing the secretive actions of SEAL Team Six.
“I still had my body armor on when you turned my life around. How dare you…”
You said “no” to the bin Laden raid. Then you announced “SEAL Team Six” when we did it. I still had my body armor on when you turned my life around. How dare you… https://t.co/EveMzo0qUE
— Robert J. O’Neill (@mchooyah) 18 November 2019
According to the Washington Examiner, some family members believe that the disclosure of SEAL Team Six in the 2011 raid led to several members being shot down and killed in a later operation.
Karen Vaughn, whose son belonged to SEAL Team Six, told the Examiner: “They put a target on my son’s back and even on my back. But a little over 90 days later, my son was dead.”
In a statement, Edward Gallagher thanked the president for restoring his rank of Chief Petty Officer.
“There are no words to adequately express how grateful my family and I are to our president, Donald J. Trump, for his intervention and decision,” Gallagher said on Nov. 15. “We would also like to thank the American people for their unwavering support during this very difficult time for my family and I—we can never thank you enough.”
“I truly believe that we are blessed as a nation to have a commander in chief that stands up for our war fighters, and cares about how they and their families are treated,” he said.
In reference Army Major Mathew Golsteyn whose case was under review on Oct. 12, Trump said: “Mathew is a highly decorated Green Beret who is being tried for killing a Taliban bomb-maker. We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said on Nov. 15: “The Department of Defense has confidence in the military justice system. The president is part of the military justice system as the commander in chief and has the authority to weigh in on matters of this nature.”
Janita Kan contributed to this report.