May 23, 2019 — President Donald Trump, fresh from pardoning a soldier convicted of what some are calling a war crime, upped the ante today by pardoning Lynndie England, the most prominent figure in the Abu Ghraib case.
After Trump announced clemency last week for former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who had been court-martialed in 2009 for taking an Iraqi prisoner into the desert on his own authority and killing him, the White House had hinted he would next pardon former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, whose rogue attacks on Iraqi civilians so disturbed his fellow SEALs that some of them testified against him at his court martial. But even Washington insiders were stunned by the President's alternate choice.
England was convicted in 2005 for taking part as an Army private in the systematic torture and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison camp in Baghdad. While ten other soldiers were also court-martialed on Abu Ghraib-related charges, England is the best-known of the convicted soldiers owing to photos in which she was shown celebrating the maltreatment of prisoners.
In his statement announcing the pardon, Trump called England’s conviction “yet another example of the tendency to rush to judgment and blame American first.”
“In showing these dangerous terrorists the folly of defying American power, Private England showed initiative and creativity in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform to the hidebound, by-the-book bureaucracy of high-ranking Democrats who, sad to say, have infiltrated the U.S. Army and weakened its resolve,” the President’s statement continued. “They hung Private England out to dry, even though they like to claim they are in favor of women.”
The President also hinted that he would award England the Presidential Medal of Freedom for “advances in military penology,” and that he would ask Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Army leaders responsible for her court martial. Barr told reporters he found the President’s request “intriguing” and that he was “looking at the situation carefully.”
England, reached at her home in Ashland, Kentucky, said she was “juiced” that the President had pardoned her. “I been telling everyone those bastards had it coming and no one believed me,” she told reporters. “Thank God we got a real American for a President.”
England said she had been doing odd jobs since her court martial but on the strength of this pardon she had already been offered funding from several sources to set up her own private prison company.