New Documents Shed Light On How SEAL Team Turned In Eddie Gallagher
Friday, December 27, 2019
Photo by Gregory Bull AP
A New York Times Friday story sheds more light on how members of Eddie Gallagher’s SEAL Team debated ringing the alarm on what they saw as serious misconduct by their leader.
Hours of recorded interviews with Gallagher’s team members, text messages between them, and a body cam recording of the moment right before Gallagher allegedly stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter were included in the trove of documents leaked to the Times.
They paint a picture of a SEAL team that struggled with confronting their volatile leader, Gallagher, before ultimately alerting senior navy officials to his alleged misconduct during a 2017 deployment in Iraq.
They claimed he had shot at civilians and was trying to encourage violent confrontations.
Much of this came out during testimony in the military trial of Gallagher earlier this year, but it’s the first time the general public is getting to see it.
Gallagher was acquitted on all but one count by a military jury in July, and President Trump restored Gallagher to his rank as chief petty officer in November.
Rachel VanLandingham, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and a former Air Force JAG lieutenant colonel, is worried about the chilling effect this will have on SEALs who want to come forward with allegations of misconduct despite overwhelming pressure to keep quiet.
“They definitely wanted to do the right thing, to turn in one of their own, and then you didn’t have their own leadership backing them up,” VanLandingham said.
In the videos leaked to the Times, Gallagher's team members described him as “evil” and “toxic.”
This past weekend, Gallagher and his wife met with President Trump in Mar-A-Lago, where Gallagher gave the president a gift.
“So when they see someone being venerated, not only just getting away with just murdering people, not killing according to the rules but just killing for killing’s sake, and that person being venerated, the destructive effect on someone’s moral psyche, on their conscience, you can see it in those interviews, and that’s what really struck me,” VanLandingham said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Gallagher was pardoned by President Trump. We regret the error.
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