Monday, December 30, 2019

Trump’s pardon of Gallagher just got even more appalling

Dec. 29, 2019 at 4:31 p.m. EST

“FREAKING EVIL.” That is how Special Operator First Class Craig Miller described Eddie Gallagher, the chief of his Navy SEAL platoon. Then, he wept.

The New York Times last week revealed investigative video recordings of testimony from members of SEAL Team 7 who reported behavior from Chief Petty Officer Gallagher that they believed violated the spirit of their profession and the rule of military law. These agonizing accounts make even more appalling President Trump’s unprecedented decision to reverse Chief Gallagher’s demotion and pardon two other service members convicted of war crimes this fall, and to preserve Chief Gallagher’s Trident pin by preempting the plans of Navy commanders.

The SEALs’ descriptions portray a fighter unhinged from the military’s mission of defending the nation and dedicated instead to his own desire to spill blood. Chief Gallagher, SEALs said, purposely exposed his soldiers to enemy fire and thought casualties in his platoon could win him a Silver Star. They said he bragged that “burqas were flying” when he shot at women and boasted after an operation that he had killed four of them — with the excuse that he had fired warning shots first. Other members of the platoon, they said, began to spend their days trying to “save civilians from Eddie.”


These men broke the customary code of silence maintained by the SEALs because they thought Chief Gallagher’s behavior violated something more sacred: the duty of the men and women who fight for the United States to fight for it honorably. It’s this sacred duty that the president ridicules by allowing “Fox & Friends” and other right-wing media to lobby him into excusing — even rewarding — ethical lapses. What does this say to any soldier who wants to speak up about wrongdoing? Those who tried to hold Chief Gallagher to account are suffering insults on national television, while the petty officer, now retired with full honors, is palling around with the president at Mar-a-Lago.


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