Navy SEAL murder investigation preparing to go to trial

 
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Navy SEAL murder investigation preparing to go to trial

In case you don't know the background, I'll start with this:

All these cases tend to come break down along fairly predictable lines, those who think that a trial is justified, and those who think the military is going soft and that terrorists just need killing, no questions asked.  But this one doesn't fall so neatly into that category, as a host of SEALs appear on both sides of this dispute, and I doubt anyone would claim SEALs are soft.

But the Navy Times has an amazing, if VERY long piece today on it today titled "What motivated fellow SEALs to dime out Eddie Gallagher."  Now, I'm not picking any side, because I don't know anything about the actual evidence.  And for those that think we should always back our SEALs, I agree with you, the problem is here that there are SEALs (and possibly AF and USMC special operators) who are appearing for the prosecution as well.

On May 28, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher will be guided into a courtroom inside Naval Base San Diego, where he will face a panel of his peers sifting evidence in a war crimes case.

It will mark a sea change in the sea services clandestine and close-knit cadre of SEALs, a secretive and elite military force that rarely testifies against each other, especially in war crimes probes attracting an international audience.

But Gallagher faces a long line of SEALs prepared to provide damning testimony under oath against him.

On Gallagher's side, the evidence appears to be somewhat lacking:

Investigators found no bodies, so no autopsies were performed. Photographic and video images reviewed by Navy Times seem fragmentary and inconclusive. Multiple pieces of GoPro footage are missing and prosecutors say they can’t locate them.

Text messages and other digital conversations involving Gallagher can appear damning at times, but they’ve been described by Gallagher’s supporters as dark humor, the talk of rough men who have experienced a great deal of combat or the voice of an exasperated chief who believes he’s being railroaded by accusers and superiors.

Analysis of a knife confiscated from Gallagher will only say that it suggests traces of the blood of an Iraqi man, but it can’t be linked to any known victim, prosecutors concede.

Some of the SEALs seemed concerned by Gallagher's behavior, enough so that they held a meeting about it:

Some SEALs wanted to derail Gallagher’s advancement to senior chief.

Others were angry that he had been recommended for a post-tour combat valor award — the Silver Star — an honor they thought he didn’t deserve.

Others were concerned that he was tactically incompetent and temperamentally unfit to lead special operators and wanted him fired from a schoolhouse billet that taught junior SEALs battlefield operations....

Later that night, the LPO gathered the platoon’s enlisted SEALs together and told them “that morally they could not let these actions continue,” so if Iraqi security forces brought more prisoners to them they should send them away so Gallagher “could not injure anyone else,” according to the NCIS report.

“The plan for the platoon was to have a perimeter around (Gallagher) to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

On June 17, 2017, the LPO rotated home on leave to witness the birth of his child but when he returned to Iraq he “began hearing rumors about (Gallagher) killing civilians on the battlefield,” according to the report.

One of those incidents allegedly occurred on the day after he left.

The sniper who’s now a civilian claimed he saw Gallagher “shoot an elderly man in his 70s or 80s on Father’s Day, 18 June 2017,” a shooting backed up by a first class petty officer now assigned to Naval Special Warfare Development Group — often called DEVGRU or SEAL Team 6, according to NCIS records.

 

Hopefully the trial will either clear him, or at least make what happened a bit more clear. Either way, go read the Navy Times piece.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.