National Security & Defense

Trump to Prohibit Navy from Ousting SEAL Accused of War Crimes

U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher prepares to answer a question from the media in San Diego, Calif., July 2, 2019. (John Gastaldo/Reuters)

On Thursday, President Trump said he would prevent the Navy from ending a SEAL’s membership in the special operations force after the SEAL was accused of war crimes.

The Navy had threatened to take away Eddie Gallagher’s trident pin, which symbolizes membership in the SEAL force. Gallagher was put on trial after a deployment in Iraq in 2017 when platoon members accused Gallagher of shooting civilians and killing a captive teenager with a hunting knife.

Gallagher was eventually acquitted on all charges except for taking a trophy photo with the corpse of an ISIS fighter. Trump pardoned Gallagher of the charge in July.

“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Trump posted the tweet after Gallagher’s lawyer appeared on “Fox and Friends” Thursday, during which he claimed the Navy was trying to humiliate his client.

“This is an action that they could have taken at any time from July right after the verdict, until today,” said the lawyer, Tim Parlatore, calling the Navy’s attempt “just an effort to try and publicly humiliate Chief Gallagher and stick it right in the president’s eye.”

Gallagher’s trial made headlines this summer after another SEAL, Corey Scott, testified in court that he had killed the detainee Gallagher was accused of murdering. Scott said he killed the prisoner as an act of mercy, thinking he would be tortured and killed by Iraqi security forces in any case. Scott revealed the information after having accepted a deal that granted him immunity, infuriating prosecutors.

Trump has also pardoned Matthew Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was awaiting trial on charges he killed an unarmed Afghan in 2010, and First Lt. Clint Lorance, who served six years in Fort Leavenworth after he was convicted of ordering the shooting of Afghan civilians in 2013.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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