Navy SEALs questioned earlier this year during the trial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher for war crimes characterized their platoon leader as "freaking evil," "toxic," and "perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving," The New York Times reported Friday. The grisly admissions, made in newly-obtained video testimonies, were clearly difficult for the SEALs, who sometimes broke down in tears while speaking and have an unspoken rule against reporting their own.
Gallagher was acquitted on charges of the premeditated murder of a captive 17-year-old Islamic State fighter, as well as witness intimidation and assault, back in July. He was ultimately convicted of a single charge related to posing for pictures with the militant's corpse, and President Trump restored his rank last month, claiming Gallagher was "treated very unfairly."
But testimony by the SEALs painted a different picture. The men in Gallagher's platoon fretted among themselves about speaking to investigators, according to private group texts obtained by the Times, with a sniper who is now on SEAL Team 6 urging his colleagues, "Tell the truth, don't lie or embellish." The men described horrifying scenes, like Gallagher boasting that "burqas were flying" when he targeted women and children. Special Operator Corey Scott, the platoon's medic, told investigators: "I think he just wants to kill anybody he can." Scott, notably, changed his story on the witness stand to testify that he, not Gallagher, killed the teenage captive.
Many of the men followed Gallagher's case closely, the private group texts indicated, assuring each other that their leader would "answer to a higher power someday, and everything happens for a reason." Still, Special Operator First Class Dylan Dille expressed distress over the way it appeared the case was going. "This stuff is frustrating to read and makes it seem like Eddie will possibly get away with murder (literally)," he texted. Read more about the testimonies, and watch the interviews, at The New York Times. Jeva Lange