Trump Priority: Making Sure War-Criming Child Murderer Edward Gallagher Gets His Medal
Edward Gallagher is the Navy SEAL platoon leader who literally got away with murder a few months ago. Donald Trump probably sees inspiration in his triumph over human decency. Gallagher's fellow SEALs accused him of multiple war crimes, such as stabbing a teenage prisoner to death and shooting a young girl for the crime of walking by the river. He was only convicted of posing for photos with the prisoner's corpse like a monster. He faced no further jail time, but the president still thinks Gallagher is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. He reversed Gallagher's demotion and has actively obstructed any attempt the Navy's made to punish the scumbag (Gallagher not Trump).
When Trump ordered Gallagher restored to his full rank, the Navy responded with fierce shade. They'd give him his pay increase but wouldn't grant him the honor of his former title. Trump's sole military experience is watching the movie Navy SEALS so he probably didn't immediately feel the burn. This week, formal proceedings began to take away Gallagher's Trident pin -- a gold insignia SEALs wear pinned to their chest -- and expel him from the SEALs entirely. Navy leaders had sought clearance from the White House but were ignored. Rear Adm. Collin Green, the SEAL commander, received the authorization he needed from within the Navy and prepared to move against Gallagher without White House approval. The bold action pissed off Trump, who has more respect for toilet paper than military protocol.
Trump refers to Gallagher as a "Warfighter," which is a real but stupid term that politicians started using a while back. Former actual Marine William Tresder dismissed "warfighter" as "the rhetorical equivalent of a 'support the troops' bumper sticker or an American flag lapel pin." It's no surprise that Trump would appreciate such a simplistic, Rambo-like descriptor.
The Navy can strip a SEAL of their Trident if a commander loses "faith and confidence in the service member's ability to exercise sound judgment, reliability and personal conduct." That seems the only reasonable response to someone busted for taking selfies with corpses. Losing the trident won't affect Gallagher's rank, but it's career ending. That's a good thing. Gallagher planned on leaving the Navy soon anyway, but the loss of "elite" status would bother him more than his non-existent conscience.
"To have a commander remove that pin after a guy has gone through so much to earn it, it is pretty much the worst thing you could do," said Eric Deming, a retired senior chief who served 19 years in the SEALs. "You are having your whole identity taken away."
Arthur Takes the Trident of Atlantis and Becomes the King of Sea HD | Aquaman Movie Scene www.youtube.com
Admiral Green reportedly wants to "overhaul ethics and discipline" in the SEAL teams, which is why he wants to spray Gallagher with military-grade Raid. Gallagher's attorney,Timothy Parlatore, argues that the commander-in-chief's "intent is crystal clear" and that Green is guilty of insubordination. He can either leave Gallagher alone or risk losing his command.
Gallagher has demonstrated the defiance and arrogance you'd expect from acquitted killers who the US president coddles. He wore his Trident to work Thursday. He's mocked the Navy on social media and has taunted the SEALs who testified against him. He publicly called Admiral Green a "moron," but he also described Trump as a "man of his word" during a recent Fox News interview. He obviously suffers from Bizarro logic.
We can only speculate as to why Gallagher is the beneficiary of Trump's affirmative-action program for sociopaths. Maybe the president considers Gallagher the adult son he never successfully produced. Or maybe Trump sees Gallagher as a mirror to his own upcoming impeachment. Gallagher beat the rap but most respectable people in his profession think he's rotting garbage and want nothing to do with him. Trump also wants total personal vindication. He doesn't want to live with impeachment on his permanent record. He wants to make it all go away.
Presidents usually don't personally intervene in the military's personnel decisions. Eugene R. Fidell at Yale Law School argued that if Trump saved Gallagher's Trident, which seems likely, he would've "driven the wedge ever deeper into an already divided military." So just add to that to the pile of everything else he's ruined.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.