Former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, who was credited with shooting Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a May 2011 raid, has spoken out again this week in support of fellow SEAL Eddie Gallagher.
“He’s a great guy. He’s a poster image of what a SEAL should be,” O’Neill told The Washington Times of Gallagher. “I’d go to war with him tomorrow.”
O’Neill said that although he and Gallagher were assigned to different units on opposite sides of the country, he has become friends with Gallagher since the war crimes ordeal began.
He also backed Trump’s actions in favor of Gallagher and implied that there appeared to be a vendetta against him.
“It’s like someone wanted a notch on their belt: They took down a SEAL,” O’Neill said. “They were looking to advance their own agenda.”
O’Neill denounced claims that Gallagher allegedly killed unarmed civilians in Iraq, saying that sort of conduct would’ve gotten Gallagher “yanked.”
O’Neill said he believes the charges stemmed from disgruntled subordinates who disagreed Gallagher’s hard leadership style, a theory Gallagher himself, along with his wife Andrea and brother Sean had alleged.
On Monday, O’Neill told The Washington Examiner of Gallagher, “Everyone knows he’ll always be a SEAL. They’ll never be able to take that away from him.”
President Trump intervened throughout Gallagher’s case, from ending his pre-trial confinement, to expunging his record, and finally ensuring that Gallagher would keep his Trident pin – a symbol of his membership as an elite SEAL.
Trump has vowed to protect America’s warfighters, a promise he has doubled down on since receiving backlash for his action in the three high-profile war crimes cases.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, “I think what I’m doing is sticking up for our armed forces,” adding, “I will stick up for the warriors.”
“Just this week I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state. You know what I’m talking about,” Trump said, as reported by CNN. “And so many people said, ‘Sir, I don’t think you should do that.'”
“I will always stick up for our great fighters. People can sit there in air conditioned offices and complain, but it doesn’t matter to me whatsoever,” he said.
Earlier this week, Gallagher had released a public statement thanking those involved with his case.
To Trump, Gallagher said, “You stepped in numerous times and showed true moral fiber by correcting all the wrongs that were being done to me. You are a true leader and exactly what the military and this nation needs.”
Trump had reinstated Gallagher’s rank and expunged his record on Nov. 15 so Gallagher could retire honorably after he was cleared of charges of murdering an ISIS fighter, and charged with posing for a photo with that ISIS fighter’s corpse – despite 10 other members of Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 doing so without charge.
When the Navy ordered Gallagher to appear before a Dec. 2 Trident Review Board to determine the fate of his membership as a SEAL, Trump again intervened, stating that Gallagher would “retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin.”