Trump pardoned Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and even invited him to Mar-a-Lago for a Christmas party. He has begun lauding him as a hero in campaign rallies. But the men under his command who turned him in for war crimes tell the real story of the kind of person he truly is. And the truth is absolutely appalling. The New York Times has the video interviews with them in the investigation after they turned him in.
Gallagher says it’s all a bunchof lies because the other SEALs in his platoon just couldn’t meet his high standards. The evidence says otherwise:
“The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator Miller told investigators. “The guy was toxic,” Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. “You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.
Such dire descriptions of Chief Gallagher, who had eight combat deployments and sometimes went by the nickname Blade, are in marked contrast to Mr. Trump’s portrayal of him at a recent political rally in Florida as one of “our great fighters.”…
Platoon members said they saw Chief Gallagher shoot civilians and fatally stab a wounded captive with a hunting knife. Chief Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in July of all but a single relatively minor charge, and was cleared of all punishment in November by Mr. Trump.
Video from a SEAL’s helmet camera, included in the trove of materials, shows the barely conscious captive — a teenage Islamic State fighter so thin that his watch slid easily up and down his arm — being brought in to the platoon one day in May 2017. Then the helmet camera is shut off.
In the video interviews with investigators, three SEALs said they saw Chief Gallagher go on to stab the sedated captive for no reason, and then hold an impromptu re-enlistment ceremony over the body, as if it were a trophy.
“I was listening to it, and I was just thinking, like, this is the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Special Operator Miller, who has since been promoted to chief, told investigators.
“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,” Chief Gallagher said in a statement issued through his lawyer.
“I felt sorry for them that they thought it necessary to smear my name, but they never realized what the consequences of their lies would be. As upset as I was, the videos also gave me confidence because I knew that their lies would never hold up under real questioning and the jury would see through it. Their lies and N.C.I.S.’s refusal to ask hard questions or corroborate their stories strengthened my resolve to go to trial and clear my name.”
The video interviews and private group text conversations obtained by The Times do not reveal any coordinated deception among the SEALs in the chief’s platoon. Instead, they show men who were hesitant to come forward, but who urged one another to resist outside pressure and threats of violence, and to be honest.
“Tell the truth, don’t lie or embellish,” one sniper who is now in SEAL Team 6 told the others in a group text in 2017, when they first tried to report the chief. “That way, he can’t say that we slandered him in any way.”
Is it really any surprise that this is the kind of guy Trump considers a hero instead of the criminal that he is? There is no limit to how cruel he can be. None.