Connect with us


Trump pardons, commutes sentences of 20 people



Trump Signs Social Media EO

With less than 30 days left in office, President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening pardoned 15 individuals and commuted the sentences of five, including two Republican congressmen, former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad, among others.

This latest slate of pardons comes after the president controversially pardoned former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn toward the end of last month, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents after he was accused of having contacts with Russian officials.

Months ago, Trump also commuted the sentence of longtime ally Roger Stone days before he was scheduled to report to prison.

According to a range of reports, the president is likely to issue more pardons before leaving office on January 20.

This latest wave of pardons include those for former GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Chris Collins (N.Y.), who were some of the earliest Republican lawmakers to rally behind Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Also related to this is Trump commuting the sentences of five other individuals the same day, including former Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX).

Following Collins pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds in 2019, the congressman was sentenced to 26 months in federal prison.

Hunter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI in 2019, and was then sentenced to 11 months in federal prison.

Former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean who shot a suspected drug smuggler fleeing custody were pardoned by Trump. Sara A. Carter wrote of the pair in 2006 and continued to advocate for their pardons.

Click here to read her story for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

The president on Tuesday also pardoned four former Blackwater Worldwide contractors—Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard—who were convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that resulted in more than a dozen Iraqi civilians dead. The news story sparked global outcry over the use of private military contractors in combat zones.

Those campaigning for pardons of the former contractors had claimed the four were excessively punished in an investigation and prosecution they said was undercut by issues and withheld exculpatory evidence. Prior to their pardons, the four were serving out long prison sentences.

Two other pardons for people involved in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe were also announced Tuesday.

One was for George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign. He pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators during the Russia probe, serving 12 days in prison back in 2018.

The second one was for the Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for also lying to the FBI during Mueller’s Russia probe.

The president also commuted the rest of three people’s sentences Tuesday. Crystal Munoz, Tynice Nichole Hall, and Judith Negron had been convicted on drug and fraud-related charges, and had been previously granted clemency by Trump.

Moreover, calls to pardon National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden have been mounting astronomically in recent months and weeks as the sun sets on Trump’s time in the Oval Office. During the summer, Trump himself even expressed interest in possibly pardoning the whistleblower, who has been hiding away in Russia since leaking classified NSA information to the public in 2013.

“I’m going to take a look at [Snowden’s case] very strongly,” Trump said during a news conference in August. “It seems to be a split decision,” he said. “Many people think he should be somehow treated differently, and other people think he did very bad things.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

You may like

Continue Reading


Unearthing the Unthinkable Atrocities Israel endured from Hamas



TempleMount 255376903

SHURA ARMY BASE, Israel – It has been three harrowing weeks since a devastating and unexpected massacre unfolded across multiple Israeli army bases, civilian communities, and even a music festival by the Iranian backed terrorist organization, Hamas. The scars of this multi-pronged terrorist attack are deep, and Israel is grappling with the daunting task of identifying the fallen. The enormity of the challenge is not just in the scale of the attack but also in the sheer brutality unleashed by thousands of Palestinian terrorists.

The Shura Army Base, situated on the outskirts of the central Israeli city of Ramle, remains a grim testament to the horrors inflicted during this assault. According to reports from Fox News this week, the base has seen a continuous influx of deceased bodies and dismembered remains, arriving from the country’s southern regions in refrigerated trucks. Here, amidst the agonizing task of identification, army personnel, volunteers, and religious authorities have been confronted with atrocities that evoke chilling images reminiscent of the Holocaust.

In a somber interview, Col. Rabbi Haim Weisberg, head of the army’s rabbinic division, remarked on the stark brutality witnessed, drawing parallels to the darkest days of history: “During a war, each side tries to make a convincing argument that they are right, but these kinds of atrocities we have not seen since the days of the Nazis.”

The horrors perpetrated by the attackers are difficult to comprehend. Terrorists systematically went from house to house, leaving behind a trail of burnt families. Body bags filled with entire families, including grandparents, mothers, fathers, and innocent children, continue to arrive.

The task of identifying the fallen is overwhelming, even for the seasoned rabbis at the base, who typically deal with fallen soldiers during peacetime. “Here we have identified hundreds of bodies, and there are still many more waiting to be examined,” Weisberg lamented.

Moreover, reports stated that some of the bodies are so severely burned that conventional DNA testing is futile. In such cases, dental forensic teams are mobilized to painstakingly match victims with their dental records. Yet, even these methods are not always effective.

The toll of this horrific attack is staggering, with over 1,400 people confirmed dead and an additional 239 held captive in the Palestinian enclave. Furthermore, a hundred individuals remain missing. In the aftermath of the October 7 attack, IDF’s special forces have undertaken perilous missions within the Gaza Strip to recover the remains and body parts of the fallen.

Forensic archaeologists have been called in to devastated communities along the Gaza border to search for human remains. In one heart-wrenching discovery, a human jaw was found in a burnt-out safe room.

The families of the victims, clinging to hope that their loved ones might still be alive, are being confronted with the agonizing truth that their relatives are among the deceased. Rabbi Weisberg shared a particularly disturbing account of one badly charred body that turned out to be two victims – a mother and a baby bound together in a final, desperate embrace. Fox News reported that another victim was a pregnant woman, her stomach cruelly cut open, her unborn child torn out and beheaded. The umbilical cord remained attached, serving as a grim testament to the unparalleled cruelty.

In Rabbi Weisberg’s words, “When you think about evil, you realize it is beyond comprehension when you see what this terror organization did.” The grim task of identification unfolds within a large white tent at the Shura base, surrounded by rows of refrigerated containers. The air is heavy with the overwhelming stench of death.

Amidst this macabre environment, a team of female volunteers has been assigned the challenging role of cleaning the bodies of murdered women. This group is part of a unique military reserve, established over a decade ago, to handle the sensitive task of dealing with female combat soldiers who may fall in action.

Shari, one of the volunteers who remains anonymous due to military guidelines, revealed the somber details of their mission. Specially trained for a mass casualty event, they were called into action on October 7 and have since been working tirelessly. Shari conveyed the harrowing scenes they have borne witness to – women arriving still in their pajamas, their heads brutally disfigured, some booby-trapped with grenades.

“We saw evidence of rape,” Shari stated with a heavy heart. “Pelvises were broken, and it probably takes a lot to break a pelvis… and this was also among grandmothers down to small children. These are things we saw with our own eyes.”

As Israel grapples with the aftermath of this unprecedented and cruel attack, the nation is united in its resolve to honor and remember the victims while condemning the barbarity that has scarred their history.

Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!

You may like

Continue Reading