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This Is Trump's 'Real American Hero,' Eddie Gallagher
'He just wants to kill anybody he can.'
Now that Donald Trump has ratified Fox News's assessment of former Navy SEAL chief Eddie Gallagher as a Genuine American Hero by pardoning him (and others) for war crimes, we're getting more information on the accusations that led to Gallagher's court martial in the first place. The New York Times reports today on videotaped testimony from members of Gallagher's SEAL platoon in Iraq, given during interviews with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after the SEALs reported Gallagher's actions in early 2018. The special operators don't have a lot of nice things to say about their former chief, portraying him as a sociopath who just loved killing people, whether they were combatants or civilians.
Although the platoon members' testimony had previously been reported by the Navy Times and Task and Purpose during Gallagher's trial, the videos have not been seen publicly before now. (TheTimes has compiled clips from the testimony for its documentary series "The Weekly," showing now on the Hulu streaming service, and to be broadcast on the FX cable network Sunday.) The SEALS, breaking with the usual code of silence that Gallagher must have hoped would protect him, were pretty devastating in their testimony, recorded in a San Diego NCIS office after they'd all returned from Iraq.
Back in June, Task and Purpose reported, "A Navy SEAL sniper testified[...] that he fired warning shots to scare away a civilian noncombatant in Mosul before Chief Eddie Gallagher fired and told them over the radio, 'you guys missed him but I got him.'" The same sniper also said at the trial, "I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS." The Times reporting gets far, far worse.
"The guy is freaking evil," Special Operator [Craig] Miller told investigators. "The guy was toxic," Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. "You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving," Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators [...]
Thoughcombat in Iraq barely fazed the SEALs, sitting down to tell Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents about what they had seen their platoon chief do during a 2017 deployment in Iraq was excruciating for them.
In the videos, three SEALs testified they saw Gallagher stab a wounded teenaged ISIS fighter who'd been captured, pretty much for the hell of it. At Gallagher's trial, however, one member of the platoon testified -- improbably -- that he, not Gallagher, had actually killed the prisoner. Ultimately, Gallager was acquitted of murder but found guilty of taking trophy photos with the corpse.
Special Operator Miller said that when the platoon commander, Lt. Jacob Portier, told the SEALs to gather over the corpse for photos, he did not feel he could refuse. The photos, included in the evidence obtained by The Times, show Chief Gallagher, surrounded by other SEALs, clutching the dead captive's hair; in one photo, he holds a custom-made hunting knife.
"I think Eddie was proud of it, and that was, like, part of it for him," Special Operator Miller told investigators.
So that's the guy Donald Trump praised at one of his campaign slob picnics as one of "our great fighters."
Why yes, there IS more:
SEALs who spoke to Navy investigators painted a picture of a platoon driven to despair by a chief who seemed to care primarily about racking up kills. They described how their chief targeted women and children and boasted that "burqas were flying."
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."
Nice to know he's not a bigot. He just liked killing people is all. It's all about shooting them in their hearts and their minds.
And as a leader, he sounds like a real peach, the sort who'd fit in with the British World War I generals who considered massive casualties among their men to be proof that they had excellent fighting spirit, so the war was going great.
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 .
The SEALs' attempts to report Gallagher's bad behavior up the chain of command went nowhere, so they ultimately went to the NCIS instead, leading to Gallagher's arrest. Unfortunately, his trial was botched by prosecutorial misconduct, and even the minor crime he was convicted of was erased by Trump's pardon.
Gallagher has insisted the SEALs who testified against him are all a bunch of cowards who conspired against him to make up fake stories because they just couldn't hack risking their necks in combat, which sounds like a pretty reasonable assessment of members of one of the most elite units in the military.
"My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me, but I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment," Chief Gallagher said in a statement issued through his lawyer.
The Times notes that the materials it has, which include the videos and "thousands of text messages" the SEALS sent each other as the case progressed,
do not reveal any coordinated deception among the SEALs in the chief's platoon. Instead, they show men who were hesitant to come forward, but whourged one another to resist outside pressure and threats of violence,and to be honest.
"Tell the truth, don't lie or embellish," one sniper who is now in SEAL Team 6 told the others in a group text in 2017, when they first tried to report the chief. "That way, he can't say that we slandered him in any way."
But then, the lamestream media WOULD say that, wouldn't it? The Cult of Eddie Gallagher is now fully established, and Donald Trump has made it clear he'll pardon any US war criminal whose case Fox News pushes. Isn't America great?
[ NYT ]
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