“Tell the truth, don’t lie or embellish,” one member told the others in a group text in 2017, when they first reportedly tried to report the chief. “That way, he can’t say that we slandered him in any way.”
Video obtained by The New York Times shows members of SEAL Team 7 criticizing their former platoon chief Edward Gallagher, who was accused of murdering a teenage ISIS member. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin joined CBSN with the latest details.
Gallagher’s war crimes case gained national attention after President Donald Trump controversially intervened on his behalf, ignoring Pentagon leaders who had told the President such a move could damage the integrity of the military judicial system.
„The guy is freaking evil,“ Special Operator First Class Craig Miller said of Gallagher during his interview with Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents, the Times reported.“
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Asked whether the chief had a bias against Middle Eastern people, Special Operator Scott replied, “I think he just wants to kill anybody he can.”
Some of the SEALs said they came to believe that the chief was purposefully exposing them to enemy fire to bait ISIS fighters into revealing their positions. They said the chief thought that casualties in the platoon would increase his chances for a Silver Star.
President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. Before the trial began, in March, I received two calls from the president asking me to lift Gallagher’s confinement in a Navy brig; I pushed back twice, because the presiding judge, acting on information about the accused’s conduct, had decided that confinement was important. Eventually, the president ordered me to have him transferred to the equivalent of an enlisted barracks. I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the case stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media.
Der Marinestaatssekretär kam der Rücktrittsaufforderung wenig später nach. In einem im US-Medien veröffentlichten Brief begründete er seinen Rückzug damit, dass er und Trump nicht mehr dasselbe Verständnis von Ordnung und Disziplin hätten und er nicht guten Gewissens einem Befehl folgen könne, der den „heiligen Eid“ zum Schutz der Verfassung der USA verletze.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that President Trump gave him a direct order to allow a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes to retire without losing his SEAL status.
Esper told reporters at the Pentagon that Trump’s verbal order was the reason Esper announced Sunday that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher would be allowed to retire with his trident pin, retaining his status as a SEAL.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his handling of a controversial war crimes case.
Esper told The Washington Post in a statement Sunday that he was „deeply troubled“ by reports that Spencer had reached out to White House officials promising that an accused Navy SEAL would be allowed to retire as a SEAL despite his conviction for posing with the corpse of a slain enemy combatant.
A captured young fighter of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh) was being treated by a medic. According to two SEAL witnesses, Gallagher said over the radio „he’s mine“ and walked up to the medic and prisoner, and without saying a word killed the prisoner by stabbing him repeatedly with his hunting knife. Gallagher and his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jake Portier, then posed for photos of them standing over the body with some other nearby SEALs. Gallagher then text messaged a fellow SEAL a picture of the dead captive with the explanation „Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”
Another accusation was that Gallagher’s sniper work during his 2017 deployment became indiscriminate, reckless, and bloodthirsty. He allegedly fired his rifle far more frequently than other snipers; according to testimony, the other snipers in the platoon did not consider him a good sniper, and he took „random shots“ into buildings. Other snipers said they witnessed Gallagher taking at least two militarily pointless shots, shooting and killing an unarmed old man in a white robe as well as a young girl walking with other girls. Gallagher allegedly boasted about the large number of people he had killed, claiming he averaged three kills a day over 80 days, including four women. Gallagher also was reportedly known for indiscriminately spraying neighborhoods with rockets and machine gun fire with no known enemy force in the region.
A charge of obstruction of justice was brought against Gallagher for alleged witness intimidation. According to the claim, Gallagher allegedly threatened to kill fellow SEALs if they reported his actions.
All three also had been favorites among conservatives who see them as heroes who should not have been prosecuted. Trump, when the White House was considering intervening in Golsteyn’s case, commented at the time, ‚We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill‘!
Kriegsverbrechen des US-Elitesoldaten Edward Gallagher bleiben ungesühnt. Unterstützung durch Trump und US-Navy
On the morning of May 4, 2017, Iraqi troops brought in an Islamic State fighter who had been wounded in the leg in battle, SEALs told investigators, and Chief Gallagher responded over the radio with words to the effect of “he’s mine.” The SEALs estimated that the captive was about 15 years old. A video clip shows the youth struggling to speak, but SEAL medics told investigators that his wounds had not appeared life-threatening.
A medic was treating the youth on the ground when Chief Gallagher walked up without a word and stabbed the wounded teenager several times in the neck and once in the chest with his hunting knife, killing him, two SEAL witnesses said.
Iraqi officers who were at the scene told Navy investigators that they did not see the captive die, but disputed the stabbing account, saying it seemed out of character for the chief.
Minutes after the death, Chief Gallagher and his commanding officer, Lieutenant Portier, gathered some nearby SEALs for a re-enlistment ceremony, snapping photos of the platoon standing over the body.
Prosecutors were convinced that Gallagher stabbed the detainee to death and they knew that Scott was next to him that day, monitoring the boy’s vitals, so he became a very valuable witness, according to internal files provided to Navy Times.
But Scott told prosecutors and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents that he didn’t want to participate in the trial and later threatened to remain silent during a Feb. 11 reinterview session with them, a policy he vowed to continue on the stand to protect his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
So Navy Region Southwest and the U.S. Department of Justice granted him testimonial immunity to hurdle his Fifth Amendment protections and force him to talk to investigators and later testify in court.
The prosecution’s case was dealt a major blow when a witness said that it was he, not Gallagher, who had put an end to the captive ISIL fighter’s life.
Corey Scott, a first class petty officer, testified that while he had seen Gallagher stab the wounded fighter in the neck in May 2017, he had killed the boy afterwards.
He testified that he covered the victim’s breathing tube with his thumb and then watched him die.
Scott said he did so to spare the boy – who prosecutors say was about 15 years old – from suffering or being tortured by Iraqi forces.