A retired Navy SEAL whose war crimes trial made international news has launched a video attack on former SEAL teammates who accused him of murder and shooting civilians, and who testified against him at his San Diego court-martial in June.
In a three-minute video posted to his Facebook page and Instagram account Monday, retired Chief Special Operator Edward Gallagher, 40, referred to some members of his former platoon as “cowards” and highlighted names, photos and — for those still on active duty — their duty status and current units, something former SEALs say places those men — and the Navy’s mission — in jeopardy.
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Gallagher was accused of several war crimes by some of his platoon subordinates, including that he shot civilians and stabbed a wounded Islamic State fighter in the neck, killing him, while in Iraq in 2017. He pleaded not guilty and was acquitted of most charges, but was convicted of posing for a photo with an Islamic State fighter’s corpse, a crime for which the jury reduced his rank.
The case and its fallout received extensive media coverage, especially among conservative outlets such as Fox News, where network personalities lobbied President Donald Trump on-air for months to intervene on Gallagher’s behalf.
Trump intervened in the case several times including ordering Gallagher released from confinement before trial and restoring the SEAL’s rank post-conviction.
Two former SEALs who served in Gallagher’s platoon in Iraq during his 2017 deployment spoke to the Union-Tribune Monday about the video. Neither testified at Gallagher’s court-martial.
David Shaw, a former petty officer 1st class, said he questioned Gallagher’s decision to publicize information that’s normally kept quiet for operational security.
“Attempting to call attention to (those SEALs’) status in the way it’s been done does not serve the mission or the interests of the Navy,” Shaw said when reached by phone. “To attempt to out (their) status raises questions about the decision to do so.”
Shaw also defended his former teammates and their decisions to testify against their chief.
“Each and every one of the guys who came forward were performers of the highest caliber and people of the highest reputations within the platoon,” Shaw said. “(One) was selected to serve at the most premier institution at Naval Special Warfare and that tells you everything you need to know about his performance and speaks volumes about his character.”
Another former SEAL from the platoon said publicizing the faces of active-duty SEALs — including one assigned to the elite Development Group, or SEAL Team 6 — could put the lives of the men and their families in danger.
The former SEAL asked the San Diego Union-Tribune not to use his name but said that because SEALs have been the targets of threats from terror organizations, exposing their names, faces and current units was an egregious breach of norms within the community.
The video appears to be a trailer for an unspecified future project. Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher’s attorneys, declined to say Monday what that project is or when it will be published.
Navy Capt. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, said in a statement late Monday that the Navy, as a practice, does not identify active-duty SEALs.
“As a matter of policy we do not identify our special operators,” Lawrence said in an email. “We don’t identify them by name, or by any other manner, due to the nature of their work, for the protection of their teammates and their families, and to protect on-going and future missions.”
The video includes clips from Naval Criminal Investigative Service interviews of Gallagher’s SEAL teammates where the men tell investigators about the alleged actions of their chief.
Portions of those interviews were published by The New York Times on its FX show “The Weekly” in December.
Gallagher says in the video that he’s fighting to clear his name, despite being found not guilty of the most serious charges against him.
“For my entire adult life, I’ve had the honor and privilege of fighting for this country and your freedom,” Gallagher says in the beginning of the video. “Even though I went to trial and exposed all the lies that were said about me by certain cowards in my platoon and found not guilty, there are those to this day who refuse to accept that fact.”
Gallagher appears to be referencing The New York Times and its reporter David Philipps, who appeared in the December episode of “The Weekly.”
“The fight to clear my name is not over,” Gallagher says.
Parlatore told the Union-Tribune Monday that the video project will include more footage from NCIS interviews and from Gallagher’s 2017 deployment.
“What’s coming is the truth,” Parlatore said, adding that the video project was a direct response to The Weekly.
Parlatore dismissed concerns about highlighting the names and faces of active-duty SEALs.
“There’s nothing in that video that’s not already public,” he said.
The Union-Tribune has previously reported the names of the SEALs who testified as well as one of their units. It has not, however, published photos of the men.
Although Gallagher’s trial ended in July, his case and the publicity around it extended into the fall.
When the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Collin Green, moved to strip Gallagher of his coveted SEAL trident and status in the elite community, Trump again stepped in and protected the SEAL — a move that started a chain of events that ended with the firing of Navy Secretary Robert Spencer in November.
There are 54,000 followers on Gallagher’s Instagram account and 45,000 on his Facebook account.
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