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Navy drops charges against four SEALs over alleged Afghanistan detainee abuse

Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Navy Region Southwest's new commander, makes her opening remarks after accepting command during a change of command ceremony held on Naval Base Coronado. The ceremony is a naval tradition designed to strengthen the respect for authority and ensure that that all aboard are aware of the authenticity of assumption of command. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Scorza/Released)
August 08, 2019

Charges against four Navy SEALs for alleged abuse of detainees in Afghanistan in 2012 have been dropped, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Navy Region Southwest commander Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar said in San Diego that the seven-year-old investigation has degraded and convictions against the four SEALS — Lt. Jason Webb, Chief Petty Officers David Swarts and Xavier Silva and Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel D’Ambrosio — are unlikely, the Associated Press reported.

“Military prosecutors informed Admiral Bolivar that the evidence from the 2012 case has degraded to the point where they believe obtaining convictions is no longer likely,” Bolivar said.

The four SEALs were accused of abusing bound prisoners alongside Afghan Local Police.

Swarts’ defense attorney Colby Vokey told The San Diego Union-Tribune he believes the dismissal is long overdue.

“The case should have never been brought,” he said. “It was rife with unlawful command influence and overreach in prosecution.”

The development comes at a time of other Navy scandals, with some other SEALs recently being vindicated in their charges.

Other scandals involving the Navy include the court-martial trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher. The Navy charged Gallagher with murder and attempted murder, accusing him of fatally stabbing an ISIS prisoner reportedly on May 3, 2017.

He was found not guilty on July 2.

Another scandal within the Navy occurred on July 24, when a Navy SEAL platoon was kicked out of Iraq after it was accused of inappropriate behavior, including drinking, fraternization and sexual assault, the New York Times reported.

“There were allegations of wrongdoing, and the commander initiated an investigation, which is still ongoing,” said a spokesman for Special Operations Command, Ken McGraw. “After the investigation began, the commander lost confidence in the platoon’s ability to accomplish the mission and ordered the platoon’s redeployment.”

The current Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) nominee said on July 31 that he vows to “quickly and firmly” resolve scandals rocking the Navy SEALs.

The CNO nominee, Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he was anxious to review some ongoing investigations involving alleged misbehavior.

“Ethics is a particularly important point for me and that begins at the top of my leadership and extends through all of the flag officers as well as our commanders, right down through the chief petty officers,” Gilday said. “Every day we go to work, we bring our values with us. It is especially important in combat that those values be maintained.”

Amid the controversies surrounding the Navy, some that include sexual assault, Gilday told senators he is “committed to the idea that we need people with dignity and respect.”

“Physical violence, sexual assault have no place in the Navy,” he added.