- In 2019, US Navy Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher was convicted of posing with the corpse of a dead 17-year-old ISIS detainee during his deployment to Iraq in 2017.
- In an interview scheduled to air Sunday, Gallagher admitted that his crime was “wrong” and “distasteful.”
- “It was like a joke text, dark humour,” Gallagher said of the picture. “I was trying to make it look tough… Yeah, I know how bad it looks when it gets out into the public, which it never was supposed to.”
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US Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who received vocal support from President Donald Trump amid a court martial on charges that included posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter, admitted in an interview that his crime was “wrong” and “distasteful.”
“It’s wrong. I’ll say it’s wrong now,” Gallagher said in an interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” set to air Sunday. “And I’ve definitely learned … my lesson,” he added. “It’s distasteful.”
Gallagher was convicted of posing in a picture with the corpse of a dead 17-year-old ISIS detainee during a deployment to Iraq in 2017. The lesser charge was one of seven charges against Gallagher, including premeditated murder and firing at civilians. He was acquitted of the other charges.
“It was like a joke text, dark humour,” Gallagher said of the picture, which was initially sent to friends. “I was trying to make it look tough … Yeah, I know how bad it looks when it gets out into the public, which it never was supposed to.”
Gallagher also lamented that he was “the first person ever to go to a general court-martial … for taking a picture” with an enemy combatant, adding that “it’s been done on previous deployments.”
But other US service members have had similar cases adjudicated.
In 2017, a military court dismissed the charges against US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joseph Chamblin, a scout sniper who pleaded guilty to urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Video footage of the incident was uploaded to YouTube. Chamblin’s charges were eventually dismissed on the basis of unlawful command influence, after then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos was accused of interfering in the case.
Gallagher’s conviction was the basis for his demotion. Navy leaders subsequently moved to withdraw his coveted Trident pin, which signifies membership in the Navy SEAL community. However, Trump intervened on Gallagher’s behalf, using his executive privilege as commander in chief to reinstate Gallagher’s rank and Trident pin.
“I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy,” Trump said in a tweet in November. “He was treated very badly but, despite this, was completely exonerated on all major charges. I then restored Eddie’s rank”
The Navy’s top civilian official, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, who disagreed with Trump’s intervention, was forced to resign by the defence secretary in November over Spencer’s handling of the Gallagher case.
“I don’t think he really understands the full definition of a warfighter,” Spencer said of Trump in a CBS interview at the time.
“What message does that send to the troops?” Spencer, a former Marine officer, added. “That you can get away with things. We have to have good order and discipline. It’s the backbone of what we do, and the Trident review process with the senior enlisted reviewing fellow senior enlisted is critical.