“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”
I was in Paris when President Trump spoke those words in his inaugural address, alongside former Congressman Michael Flanagan, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (Ret.), and Trump historian Frank Mitchell.
Conservative French parliament members had invited us to a black-tie inaugural gala to celebrate the peaceful passage of power from one American administration to the next.
Before the event, as we gathered outside the ornate banquet hall of the Hotel Orleans to watch the president’s inaugural address with dozens of members of the French parliament and high-ranking French military officers, something surrealistic happened when those words “America First” rolled from the new president’s lips.
The room burst into enthusiastic applause.
Applauding “America First?”
I stood in disbelief. But then it struck me. To these French conservatives, “America First” meant re-assertion of Western nationalism, particularly on border protection, where Trump had been outspoken. Unrestrained immigration from jihadist countries had stung France hard. These Frenchmen remembered Charlie Hebdo, Nice and the Bataclan Theater. They hoped that “America First” would lead to France following Trump’s nationalistic vision for border protection.
But “America First” isn’t just about border protection. In battle, it also means protecting American soldiers from brutal jihadists hell-bent on killing Americans.
The murder statute under the Uniform Code of Military Justice was designed to instill good order and discipline among the troops, not to prosecute American warfighters for killing the enemy. If one American soldier murders another American soldier, then yes, charge him under Article 118 (the murder statute under the UCMJ), pick a jury and have at it.
But prosecuting an American paratrooper for “murder” for killing brutal America-hating Taliban terrorists who have no rights under the Constitution? Murder charges against a Navy SEAL for killing an ISIS insurgent?
That’s “America First?”
Let that sink in for a moment.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, Army Green Beret Matt Golsteyn, and 82nd Airborne Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance all have this in common: All were charged or convicted (in Lorance’s case) of killing the enemy in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher is being prosecuted for “murdering an ISIS operative.” That’s the same ISIS, by the way, that murdered 250 children in a dough kneader, that beheads Coptic Christians on the shores of Libya, displaced millions of Christians in the Middle East, burns men alive in cages and decapitated American journalist James Foley? And we prosecute a Navy SEAL for “murdering” one of these animals?
Golsteyn and Lorance were charged with killing Taliban bomb-makers in a warzone – Taliban bomb makers who, by the way, had already killed American troops. So, we prosecute American warriors for “murder” for killing enemy terrorists who already killed Americans.
In Lorance’s case, corrupt Army prosecutors hid game-changing biometrics evidence proving that that two motorcycle riders shot by Lorance’s men were American-killing Taliban bomb makers. Prosecutors illegally kept this evidence from the judge, the jury and Lorance’s original lawyers, trashing Lorance’s constitutional rights in the process. In other words, the jury never knew that the dead motorcycle riders were Taliban because corrupt Army prosecutors would rather protect the Taliban than protect an American paratrooper.
In the Gallagher case, corrupt Navy prosecutors actually spied on defense lawyers without a search warrant (trashing the 4th Amendment), drawing a tepid response from the military judge, by dismissing the lead prosecutor. But the judge lacked the guts to throw the whole thing out.
In both the Lorance and Gallagher cases, corrupt military prosecutors backed up by spineless military judges and investigators, send an ominous message: Protecting dead, American-killing terrorists is more important than not only American warfighters’ lives but also more important than the United States Constitution. Between both cases, military prosecutors trashed the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.
Corrupt military prosecutors aren’t putting America First. They’re putting ISIS and the Taliban first. And they’re putting themselves first.
Either “America First” is going to mean something, or it’s not.
We have a corruption problem in the military justice system – and only one man can fix the problem – President Donald Trump.
As we’ve said in the past, President Trump should take three immediate steps to start reforming a corrupt military justice system that will again put America First.
First, Trump should execute an order disallowing Lorance’s court-martial, freeing him from prison, and restoring him to active duty with back pay for seven years imprisonment.
Second, Trump should order the dismissal of all charges against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and Army Green Beret Major Matt Golsteyn, who like Lorance, are accused of killing the enemy.
Third, Trump should appoint an independent advisory panel of former Judge Advocates, reporting directly to him, as commander in chief, with marching orders for recommendations on rooting out corruption from the military justice system to restore the system to its original purpose – helping commanders win America’s wars, not prosecuting warriors for snap-judgment actions on the battlefield.
The military justice system must operate under a philosophy that puts America first.