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High-ranking US Navy Seal Accused of War Crimes In Iraq

  •  This undated US Navy file image obtained from the US Department of Defense 26 September 2001 shows members of a Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) team

    This undated US Navy file image obtained from the US Department of Defense 26 September 2001 shows members of a Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) team | Photo: EFE FILE

Published 16 November 2018

If found guilty of obstruction of justice, premeditated murder, attempted murder and almost 12 other offenses, he could serve a life sentence. 

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL medic and sniper under investigation, is accused of executions and war crimes during his last mission in Iraq.

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If found guilty he could serve a life sentence for obstruction of justice, premeditated murder, attempted murder and almost 12 other offenses, as well as bringing "discredit upon the armed forces" 

Gallagher was supposedly a lifesaving medic and an outstanding leader, decorated for valor during his 19 years of combat, inside the U.S. imperialist army. In his last mission, he was stationed in Iraq, as a top platoon leader in the Navy SEALs.

According to the charges, Gallagher shot at civilians indiscriminately, killed a teenager — allegedly a member of ISIS— and took pictures posing with a mutilated corpse in front of a U.S. flag. "I got him with my hunting knife," Gallagher allegedly said in a message he sent with pictures to other SEAL members. 

During his defense, Phillip Stackhouse, Gallagher's lawyer, said, "these types of pictures are not unique. They’ve been in every Iraq case I’ve ever done.” The teenager was between 12 and 17, and brought to the SEAL team after he had been wounded in an airstrike to receive medical aid. While he was being attended by another SEAL doctor, Gallagher is said to have approached the patient and without saying a word, stabbed him several times in the neck and his side, Navy investigators reported.

In the preliminary hearing, where only probable cause of a crime is required for it to become a full court-martial trial, the government lawyers presented a large quantity of statements, interviews, text messages, photographs and eyewitness before Navy Judge Advocate Capt. Arthur Record.

The only witness called was Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Joe Warpinski, who had taken testimony from 9 members of Gallagher's unit under oath. His platoon members described him as unbalanced and showing "reckless" and "bloodthirsty" behavior. His team, apparently spent more energy protecting civilians from their leader than in combat.

The platoon members said Gallagher would shoot into crowds of civilians, women, children and elderly people indiscriminately. When confronted, he would allegedly threaten his own SEAL platoon members. “They said they spent more time protecting civilians than they did fighting ISIS," Warpinski told the military court.

39-year-old Edward Gallagher, dressed in his finest military suit, did not testify during the two hour preliminary hearing. However, he denies every single one of the charges presented against him. His case opens space for others and the investigation could be wider to know why others didn't report what was happening. A lieutenant has already been charged.

“I promise you, we will call many more SEALs who will say none of his ever happened,” his defendant, Stackhouse, said. Adding that the teenager allegedly killed by Gallagher, had probably died from the airstrike wounds, that there was no evidence of stab wounds.

The defense also argued that other Navy SEALs might be attacking Gallagher because they wouldn't have been up to the high standards implemented by him. The accusations according to the defense were coming from dissatisfied partners.

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Gallagher's wife, Andrea, defended her husband arguing he was a medic and "... a lifesaver. He is that guy who runs into the burning building when other people are running out.” His family cannot believe the list of war crimes that he is being accused of.

Both the defendants and the accusers are almost sure that the case will end up in a court-martial case for war crimes violations during the Battle of Mosul in 2017.

Navy Prosecutor Chris Czaplak, said that "Chief Gallagher decided to act like the monster the terrorists accuse us of being. He handed ISIS propaganda manna from heaven. His actions are everything ISIS says we are.”

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