Not Guilty Verdict for SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, USN
By Capt Joseph R. John, July 3, 2019: Op Ed #440
On November 24, 2018, Lcdr Ed Hiner, USN (Ret) (SEAL) contacted the Combat Veteran For Congress seeking support, and explained that Chief Edward Gallagher, USN (SEAL), a highly decorated Combat Veteran who had completed 8 combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and had been awarded two Bronze Star Medals (both with Combat “V”), a Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal (with Combat “V”), and other medals for his combat service during 19 years of Honorable service, was being charged with crimes by several poorly performing SEALs in his team, who were lying about Chief Gallagher’s actions in Iraq.
Those SEALs, who were deployed with Chief Gallagher’s SEAL Team SEVEN, had been removed from the fight in Mosul, Iraq by Chief Gallagher because they were not performing adequately in extremely heavy and brutal combat; they subsequently charged the Chief with crimes and using drugs in combat. Lcdr Hiner, whom we respect, assured us that Chief Gallagher was not guilty of those charges and the disgruntled SEALs who had been removed from the fight, were not telling the truth. We believe every member of the US Armed Forces deserves the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, so we were inclined to get involved.
Upon further investigation, we learned that in 2017, the year Chief Gallagher was accused of crimes by those disgruntled Navy SEALs, who had been removed from combat because of their inadequate performance, that the Chief had been nominated as SEAL Sailor of the Year by the officers in command of SEAL Team SEVEN. Those officers had been deployed with Chief Gallagher in Iraq (when the subject crimes were supposed to have occurred---it just did not add up, which further led me to believe we should get involved). Chief Gallagher was ultimately selected 2017 SEAL Chief of the Year by his SEAL Command in Coronado.
We also learned the prosecutor in the Court Martial of Chief Gallagher was not a highly experienced and well respected Navy Captain, instead the prosecutor was an inexperienced and very aggressive Navy Lieutenant, who was leaking misleading information to the media. Later in the case we learned the Lieutenant had devices planted to in E-mail sent to the defense attorney, to spy on Chief Gallagher’s defense.
The Navy Lieutenant had the Chief incarcerated in solitary confinement in a brig filled with prisoners who were convicted of pedophilia, guilty of sex crimes, and were convicted of other serious crimes. His wife, children, and his attorney had very limited access to him. The prosecutor made sure Chief Gallagher had very limited access to his attorney, which prevented him from having adequate time to prepare for his defense in the pending Article 32 Hearing.
The Lieutenant allowed NCIS to treat the Chief’s family in a manner that was unacceptable. In Chief Gallagher’s absence while he was incarcerated in solitary confinement, his family was improperly treated by the NCIS Agents when they aggressively assaulted his residence. It was my opinion that the actions of those NCIS Agents should have been investigated for the manner in which they treated Chief Gallagher’s wife, Andrea, and his innocent children (age 17 and 9), who were dragged into the street in their underwear at gunpoint.
Because Chief Gallagher had very limited access to his attorneys and did not have adequate time to prepare for his defense in the Article 32 Hearing, I told Lcdr Hiner that I would agree to support Chief Gallagher’s defense by helping to raise funds to help cover Chief Gallagher’s legal fees. We transmitted the reasons why we were supporting the legal defense of Chief Gallagher by emailing information to our supporters, and asked the recipients of those emails to make donations to Chief Gallagher’s defense fund.
After our early request for financial support for Chief Gallagher went out to our supporters, many SEALs and Navy personnel on our distribution list informed us that they would be making donations. By December 11, 2018, the Legal Defense Fund went to $117,289, toward the initial goal of $250,000; we have no idea how many of our supporters donated.
An email was also forwarded to The White House requesting the case be reviewed. We hoped that President Trump would be properly briefed about Chief Gallagher’s case. We also referred a well-known JAG attorney who offered to join the defense team, Pro Bono, to Chief Gallagher’s wife, Andrea, through the help of Lcdr Hiner.
Chief Gallagher deserved the right to a robust defense to protect his life, his family, his Navy retirement, and deserved broad support for his many years of combat service, and in his defense of the Republic. The heavy and brutal combat that Chief Gallagher had been involved in during his navy career, was not the type of military service most Veterans have ever been involved in.
From the very beginning, Cong Duncan Hunter has been very much involved in the providing defense of Chief Eddie Gallagher, and his below listed comment and evaluation of the case, are simply outstanding.
We appreciate the fact that Lcdr Ed Hiner, USN (Ret) (SEAL) encouraged us to support Chief Gallagher and helped raised funds to cover the cost of his legal defense. We are gratified with the “not guilty verdict” and understand that one of Chief Gallagher’s accusers has also left the Navy. It is our hope that Special Warfare Group ONE will restore Chief Gallagher to full duty.
We wish Chief Gallagher, his wife Andrea, and their children a well deserved, and Happy Fourth of July!
Proudly Serving the 50th District of California
For Immediate Release: July 2, 2019
Contact: Mike Harrison -- (619) 448-5201
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) made the following statement today regarding the not guilty verdict in the case of Chief Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher:
“The Gallagher case has been shameful from the start and, while much damage has been done, I am confident that Chief Gallagher, Andrea, their children and the entire family has the fortitude and determination to rebuild their lives and move on to the next chapter. That being said, the fact that this situation would happen to an American hero is nothing short of a disgrace for the entire military justice system.
“On very circumstantial and limited physical evidence, the Navy felt it appropriate to charge Chief Gallagher with the murder of an ISIS terrorist, accomplishing nothing but destroying the military career of a decorated Navy SEAL and giving every warfighter cause for concern that the nation they serve does not have their back.
“Let’s review how the Navy prosecution has conducted themselves in this situation. When Chief Gallagher was arrested, his children were pulled from their home in their underwear at gunpoint. Gallagher was placed in solitary confinement and then in a general population with pedophiles and other sexual offenders before being formally charged. He was provided very limited access to his attorney, family and medical treatment for seven months and it literally took an act of the President of the United States to place him in an appropriate confinement environment. The prosecution violated court orders by leaking misleading details to the media and misled the White House and Members of Congress regarding video evidence that actually exonerates Gallagher rather than implicating him. The Navy delayed in providing exculpatory evidence to Gallagher’s defense and then proceeded to embed malware into emails sent to Gallagher’s defense attorney and the media. Even after the shocking admission on the stand by a witness that it was he who killed the ISIS fighter and not Chief Gallagher, the Navy prosecution still moved forward with this unnecessary trial. The Navy’s actions in this case are shameful, detrimental to good order and adversely affects the morale of our warfighters.
“This not guilty verdict was more than warranted. While this case is now closed, the Navy will still be held accountable for their actions in this matter and I fully intend to continue working to protect America’s warfighters against a military justice system that is more focused on career advancement and sensational headlines as opposed to implementing and exercising the rule of law.”