After this article was published, Timothy Parlatore, Chief Gallagher’s lawyer, contacted SOFREP about some factual errors in the NYT article — which we had quoted.
With respect to the stabbing incident, Parlatore said that SO1 Corey Scott didn’t change his testimony on the stand. Additionally, Chief Gallagher’s lawyer stated that SO2 Ivan Villanueva, another SEAL witness, had said in the initial NCIS interview that Chief Gallagher “stabbed him on the side of the abdomen. He never saw him stab him in the neck. And that that wound was post-mortem.”
Speaking about the NCIS, Parlatore said that the special agents told the SEALs that they were going to issue them source numbers and that neither their names nor their recorded testimonies were ever going to go public.
This is the story that will not go away anytime soon. Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who was court-martialed and acquitted of murder, is once again back in the news. SEALs, who served under Gallagher in Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 have described their former leader as “freaking evil” and said his leadership style was toxic.
Gallagher was acquitted of the most serious charges with the exception of posing for a picture with a dead Islamic militant. While some may find that act distasteful, it hardly ranks him with the likes of Al Capone. The Navy still wanted their pound of flesh: it reduced him in rank and was going to kick him out of the SEALs.
President Trump stepped in, restored his rank and forbid the Navy from booting Gallagher from the SEALs, thus allowing him to retire at his former rank and with his Trident. That caused an uproar in the Navy and Navy Secretary Richard Spenser threatened to resign over it. Never one to be outdone, Trump fired Spenser in November.
But now the New York Times, which have long ago given up the pretence of being unbiased when it comes to President Trump, has somehow gotten hold of the video interviews that members of Alpha Platoon gave to Navy investigators a year prior to Gallagher’s court-martial.
The interviews will air on FX on Sunday night but can be downloaded and watched now on Hulu. While the statements of the seven SEALs are not new, the actual videos are and they are being aired for the first time.
These interviews, in which seven of the 22 members of the platoon testified against Gallagher, are very noteworthy. The Special Operations Command, of which the SEALs are a part, is notoriously close-knit: operators will circle the wagons and come to the aid of each other — even if they dislike one another — when outsiders invade their turf.
Which is why these video interviews are so extraordinary. These seven men broke ranks with their own and testified that they witnessed Gallagher commit war crimes, including the stabbing of the ISIS militant.
According to the NYT, one SEAL, Petty Officer Second Class Ivan Villanueva, claimed he witnessed Gallagher stab the wounded ISIS fighter in the neck, killing him. “I saw it happen,” Villanueva said.
Other SEALs testified on tape that Gallagher’s actions bordered on psychopathic and accused the Chief Petty Officer of medal-chasing. One claimed that he watched Gallagher take a shot with his sniper rifle at a 12-year old child. Petty Officer First Class Joe Arrington made a statement on video saying that he saw Gallagher shoot civilians.
But the most damaging video of the bunch to Gallagher’s defense team was from PO1 Corey Scott, who, according to the NYT, said that he saw Gallagher stab the ISIS fighter numerous times and that he remained with the fighter until he died. At the court-martial, however, Scott changed his tune and said that it was he who killed the fighter after Gallagher stabbed him just once. Scott claimed at the trial that he covered up the fighter’s breathing tube, killing him.
This begs the question that since the Navy had these video interviews on file, why didn’t they call these men to the witness stand during the court-martial? Gallagher’s lawyers and Gallagher himself say that is because the men were lying.
The defense always claimed that the SEALs chafed under his strict leadership style.
Gallagher wrote in a statement that was released by his attorney, “My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me, but I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment.”
“Soon after I got to the brig at Miramar, one of these guys came to visit me and apologize for what they did but that they had to stick with the fake stories or be charged with making false statements,” Gallagher said.
His attorney, Tim Parlatore, said in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune that there was nothing new in the videos and that they showed how flawed the NCIS investigation was. He added that the New York Times would edit and cherry-pick the most damning parts of the videos to air on the program.
This story, which will air at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday on FX, is sure to bring new heat on the administration for their action on easing the punishments on Gallagher.
The now-former SEAL has retired and was the guest of President Trump and his wife Melania at the President’s Florida estate this past week.