Two U.S. congressmen penned a letter to President Trump on behalf of Special Warfare Operator Chief Officer Edward Gallagher, asking that he directly intervene in the court-martial proceedings of the Navy SEAL.
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL sent the request in an obvious attempt to turn a military trial into a political affair. “We completely comprehend and appreciate the necessity for good order and discipline within our Armed Forces,” they wrote. “However, our experience has witnessed a verifiable bias again the warfighter that is completely political in nature by the United States Navy’s Justice system. There have been many examples of poor treatment by the Navy to Chief Gallagher that we feel require your direct and personal attention.”
Chief Gallagher is charged with four different violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). More specifically, he’s accused of murdering a captured teenage ISIS fighter by stabbing him in the neck and body, shooting at unarmed civilians, obstructing justice by encouraging SEAL platoon members not to disclose his actions on three separate occasions, and abusing banned controlled substances.
Initially, he was also charged with wrongfully performing his re-enlistment ceremony over the corpse of an ISIS fighter. The judge for the proceedings, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, ruled that albeit a scene of poor taste, this action didn’t violate the UCMJ.
Congressmen Hunter and Gaetz detailed other misgivings. “Foremost, Chief Gallagher’s current confinement is directly interfering with his right to a fair and speedy trial,” they write. “[And] secondly, Chief Gallagher has been in pretrial confinement at the Brig for over 21 weeks, 18 of which without being formally charged by the Navy.”
Furthermore, they suggest the trial, already underway, could be postponed until November. This may result in Chief Gallagher being confined for more than a year before he testifies in court.
The letter concluded, reports say, with a direct plea to President Trump to intervene: “Mr. President, this is unacceptable and, frankly, we find it appalling that a member of our military is treated in this manner. Based on these facts, we have determined, and respectfully request, that the only appropriate action would be for you, as Commander in Chief, to remove this case from the Navy’s legal system and personally review and dismiss the charges against Chief Gallagher.” Review the full letter here.
Many supporters would consider an intervention by President Trump to be heroic and justified. After all, Chief Gallagher is a Navy SEAL with almost 20 years of service his belt and double-digit deployments.
However, there are countless veterans who fought equally hard, without any stains on their record. Further, a political intervention of any form circumventing the military judicial system sets a bad precedent. It would encourage similar patterns of behavior.