The second Navy SEAL implicated in war crimes allegations in Iraq has gone to court. Lieutenant Jacob “Jake” Portier, who commanded Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 in a 2017 deployment in Iraq—the same unit to which Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher belonged—has been accused of dereliction of duty because he didn’t properly supervise Chief Gallagher and didn’t report his actions to higher leadership. In addition to that offense, Lt. Portier is being accused of performing Chief Gallagher’s reenlistment ceremony beside a dead ISIS fighter. The Navy charge sheet characterizes this action as “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.”
More specifically, as a result of the SEAL officer’s negligent leadership, Chief Gallagher allegedly killed a wounded, underage ISIS fighter who had been held as a prisoner of war and wounded a female non-combatant with a sniper rifle.
Furthermore, Lt. Portier is being accused of wrongfully impeding “an investigation in the case of Special Operations Chief Edward R. Gallagher, U.S. Navy, Naval Special Warfare Group ONE, by destroying evidence, and said conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces.”
Additionally, the SEAL platoon leader is accused of lying on two separate occasions to his commanders about Chief Gallagher’s alleged war crimes.
At the time of Lt. Portier’s Article 32 hearing back in November, his defense attorney, Jeremiah Sullivan, argued that his client shouldn’t be prosecuted given the numerous and contradictory reports of what happened. “There’s a number of witnesses who have conflicting statements. That’s the whole rub in this case,” he said.
However, the prosecutor for the government, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Captain Conor McMahon, asserted that, despite the conflicting reports, Lt. Portier “didn’t possess the moral courage to do the right thing.”
“Lt. Portier didn’t take out a hunting knife and stab a prisoner in the neck. He didn’t get behind a sniper rifle and shoot at a little girl trying to escape from ISIS, and he didn’t shoot an old man taking water jugs to the river. But he knew about it, and he did nothing,” McMahon said.
Chief Gallagher has been charged with four different violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). He is accused of murdering a captured underage ISIS fighter by stabbing him in the neck and body multiple times with a hunting knife; shooting at unarmed civilians; obstructing justice by encouraging his SEAL platoon members not to disclose his actions on three separate occasions; using a dead ISIS fighter as a prop during his reenlistment; and abusing banned controlled substances.
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