Fox News host Pete Hegseth closed the circle on Wednesday morning, applauding President Donald Trump for pardoning four military contractors convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007.
The president’s public praise for Hegseth follows a long lobbying campaign on behalf of the war criminals convicted by the Fox and friends personality.
As you may recall, just before Trump threw a hand grenade at the 11th hour in coronavirus relief legislation, the outgoing president staged a pre-Christmas pardon frenzy that included four security guards for the private military security company Blackwater.
The contractors – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten – were part of an armed convoy that opened fire on a crowd of unarmed people in the middle of a square in Baghdad. With the guards indiscriminately using machine guns, a rocket launcher and a sniper, the Nisour Square massacre sparked international outrage.
Eventually, Slough, Liberty and Heard were convicted of multiple manslaughter charges and each sentenced to 30 years in prison. Slatten, meanwhile, was sentenced to life for first degree murder. Among the victims of the massacre were two Iraqi boys aged 8 and 11.
Next to a Fox and friends Report on the multitude of pardons Wednesday morning, Hegseth – an Iraq War veteran who was once considered by Trump to lead the veterans administration – presented his personal thoughts.
“I would like to note, too, that you and the Blackwater contractors are looking at this Raven 23 story and how it was misinterpreted against these guys,” Hegseth said. “God bless the president for having the courage that many other presidents would not do to forgive these men.”
“These veterans who defended diplomats put themselves in an impossible situation,” added the Fox host.
The Daily Beast reported last year that Hegseth privately lobbied Trump to grant pardons to a list of servicemen who had been accused or convicted of war crimes. Trump stepped in, for example, and overturned the military demotion of Navy SEAL chief Eddie Gallagher, who was cleared of murder in the murder of a teenage Islamic State captive but convicted of posing with the corpse of the teenager for a photo.
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