Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was perched in his sniper’s nest in Mosul one day in 2017 when the girl was shot. The highly decorated and respected Navy SEAL commando spotted a group of local kids walking along a riverbank one of which was wearing a flower print hijab which is a detail I can’t get out of my mind and you probably won’t be able to either. I bet it was a pretty hijab before the blood got on it.
His platoon’s mission was to assist Iraqi forces and provide cover with snipers and drones and that sort of thing which seems like kind of a boring mission to be honest not the type of thing you’d get to do much killing on so according to other members of the platoon Gallagher would often instigate unnecessary fights and fire indiscriminately into otherwise quiet neighborhoods and buildings to spice things up. He wanted to get the blood flowing so to speak.
On this particular day he is alleged to have trained his sights on the group of girls and fired at them hitting one of them. As one of his fellow snipers said “he watched through his scope as she dropped, clutching her stomach, and the other girls dragged her away,” according to the New York Times.
The paper obtained a confidential Navy criminal investigation report on Gallagher based on allegations of serious war crimes levied against him by his fellow SEALs and others.
In another instance Gallagher whose court martial trial is set for late May is alleged to have sent a text message to friends of himself holding the head of a ISIS fighter he had just killed in one hand and his knife in the other like a sport hunter boasting of his latest trophy. If you had to put yourself in the mind of a sport hunter when they’re taking photos of themselves next to elephants and lions and shit that they killed this is exactly what they’re imaging you would guess. They’re playing Army Man which is to say they’re pretending they’re Eddie Gallagher the famous bad ass troop who no one can stop.
In around May of 2017 Iraqi forces called in an airstrike on a building and captured a wounded ISIS fighter according to testimony from members of Gallagher’s team. The fighter was a boy of about fifteen years old they said and he was wounded but not definitely going to die so the medics set about trying to keep him alive. Out of nowhere witnesses say Gallagher walked up and stabbed the boy multiple times in the neck and chest killing him. Then he took the picture.
In another instance from around that time Gallagher is said to have shot an elderly man merely walking down the road from his sniper’s perch. Apparently the sight in his rifle was slightly off but his fellow Seals neglected to tell him because “they felt that he was targeting civilians.”
It wasn’t the first time he had been investigated for wrongdoing. In 2010 he allegedly “shot through an Afghan girl to hit the man who was carrying her, killing them both,” and in 2014 he was detained at a traffic stop by a Navy police officer who he then allegedly tried to run over with his car. He was not reprimanded in either case.
The night they say he murdered the boy he was reported to a superior officer who the SEALs say declined to do anything. From the Times:
According to the investigation report, the troop commander, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, said in the meeting that while the SEALs were free to report the killings, the Navy might not look kindly on rank-and-file team members making allegations against a chief. Their careers could be sidetracked, he said, and their elite status revoked; referring to the eagle-and-trident badges worn by SEALs, he said the Navy “will pull your birds.”
The enlisted aide, Master Chief Petty Officer Brian Alazzawi, warned them that the “frag radius” — the area damaged by an explosion — from a war-crime investigation of Chief Gallagher could be wide enough to take down a lot of other SEALs as well, the report said.
Be careful who you accuse of war crimes because it might not reflect kindly on you in other words. Whom among us hasn’t engaged in some light war crimes?
From the Navy Times:
One of the members of Gallagher’s unit — Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 — is expected to testify that Gallagher confessed that he “killed four women,” according to Naval Criminal Investigative Service files and legal records provided to Navy Times.
Two other SEAL petty officers told investigators Gallagher bragged about slaying “10-20 people a day or 150-200 people on deployment,” court documents state.
And a fellow sniper intends to tell the panel that Gallagher claimed, “he averaged three kills a day over 80 days,” according to legal filings obtained by Navy Times.
Three other SEALs are slated to say their platoon chief took "random shots, sometimes into buildings, where he claimed to have killed someone,” similar filings allege.
One of the SEALs overhead the chief say he was “OK with shooting women” and another saw him “fire into a crowd of what appeared to be noncombatants multiple times," records state.
And still more SEALs say they’ll tell the panel that Gallagher attempted to cover up these alleged crimes by threatening to murder witnesses and embarking on a campaign to identify other whistleblowers, get them blacklisted in the special warfare community and ruin their careers.
Gallagher is of course entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial like anyone else accused of a crime no matter how serious. I have no idea if the allegations against him are true although it does seem pretty bad that so many of his fellow SEALs would go to such trouble to report him after being repeatedly told not to but who is to say what a person can do? Maybe they are just jealous of how good he was at shooting?
You will not be surprised to hear that the cavalry has arrived to stand for Gallagher’s honor in the form of politicians like Dan Crenshaw the congressman from Texas who was also a Navy SEAL and who had his feelings hurt by Ariana Grande’s ex-boyfriend on the famous TV show and who is playing footsie with getting Ilhan Omar shot. He and forty fellow congressmen sent a letter last month asking for Gallagher to be released from pre-trial confinement where he had been since September because he is a troop and troops must be treated like heroes except when those troops are accusing one of their own of wrongdoing in which case they are liberals and liars with an agenda.
“We are respectfully requesting that you re-evaluate the decision to place Chief Gallagher in pre-trial confinement and analyze whether a less severe form of restraint would be appropriate as his trial approaches,” the letter read. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that Chief Gallagher is given a fair trial and the opportunity to prepare for his defense.”
“We ask that you weigh this decision given the terrible message Chief Gallagher’s confinement sends to our war fighters, that they can be confined behind bars away from their family, legal defense, and community for nine months before their day in court,” it adds. “To confine any service member for that duration of time, regardless of the authority to do so, sends a chilling message to those who fight for our freedoms. This is why, as Members of Congress, we are urging you to act quickly to re-evaluate Chief Gallagher’s confinement and take the actions necessary to ensure he is given the best opportunity to prepare his defense for a fair trial.”
Maybe the conservative lawmakers really do sincerely care about the conditions people accused of crimes are kept in while they await trial. It could actually be the case that that is their concern here. It’s not but it could be.
Look at those signatures laid out together like that like a horrifying incantation. Like a graffiti covered wall in a neighborhood bombed into submission tagged by the people who ordered the strikes.
A couple days after the letter was sent the president tweeted about the situation because it was on Fox and Friends saying Gallagher would be moved from a holding cell which he eventually was. Soon after he got to reunite with this wife and son which is great for him that he has the opportunity to do that still.
Here’s a tweet from Fox and Friends genius and Certified Troop Pete Hegseth. You may remember Hegseth from the time he struck a person with a throwing axe accidentally on live TV or the time he told Americans to go out and buy more AR-15s (Assault Rifle 15s) after the New Zealand shooting or the time he said he hadn’t washed his hands in ten years and that germs aren’t real.
He’s right about the last part. Incidentally if you’d like to purchase a t-shirt showing your support for the accused war criminal you can do so here.
Of course of course this story has become just another battleground in the interminable and terminally stupid culture wars where we must all now fall into formation on our predictable sides. No matter what he’s been accused of Gallagher is a troop and one must defend the troops at all costs from the scourge of the cowardly libs who want nothing more than to see our borders overrun by terrorists and such. And so the heinous acts of an alleged war criminal are smoothed over to fit into the context of any other dumb fight we have to go through on social media and cable news. This may as well be about plastic straws. You will find the exact same people taking the exact same sides in either case due to the game is the game but also as an added layer of slime in this one it is true that many if not most Americans simply do not value the lives of the people in the countries we invade. A Muslim life in Iraq does not count and is not real at least when weighed in the balance against an American one and so killing them can’t be murder. Going to jail for killing an Iraqi hardly seems fair.
Sometimes when you do something as heretical as suggest the American military are somewhat occasionally maybe a little bit bad people will accuse you of being a traitor and a coward and a pussy and a terrorist and things of that nature which is due to the thing about American civic religion I wrote about on here recently.
They will say when you criticize the American military that you are scum and that you are half the man such and such a troop is and that you could never do what it takes to do the job they do keeping us safe and defending our freedoms and such and a lot of that is true I have to admit. I certainly could not do what Eddie Gallagher or people like him do. I don’t have the stuff that it takes to do that sort of job. I am not capable of it are you?
I’m not even capable of cleaning out my childhood bedroom without crying about it which we will now talk about in a rather abrupt shift from war crimes. This piece of mine came out today in Boston Magazine and I’d like you to read it because you will probably find it relatable which is thing articles are supposed to be now. Sorry about reusing the bit about the low ceilings that I used on here once in the intro but how many ways are there to describe a room with a low ceiling for fucks sake? Anywhere here’s the first part:
The ceiling in my childhood bedroom is so low, it’s like I could jump and hit my head on it and knock myself out if I really wanted to. The room itself is small, too, as if the walls are closing in. Part of that might be the way that everything in the home you grew up in seems smaller when you come back to it as an adult, but it’s also probably because when the room was built a few hundred years ago, people didn’t have as many possessions to hold onto forever as we do now. The guy who built the place was a son or a grandson of the first governor of Plymouth Colony, and there’s a big rock out back with a plaque on it to commemorate the occasion. Unbothered by history, I used to climb all over it when I was young, standing on top and looking out at the farm next door. It had one horse and one cow, and it always seemed like the loneliest farm in the world to me, but maybe it was just an exceptionally efficient one.
Every year, around the start of spring, I get a call from my mother asking me to come contend with the entire history of my youth, which has been jammed into this room for almost 20 years. It’s like the persistent alerts you get on your phone saying you’re running out of photo space and it’s time to upgrade your iCloud storage, but even phones don’t (yet) have the power to guilt you into action like mothers do. And so finally, this year, I gave in. I was in the neighborhood already to celebrate the March birthdays of my niece and sister, two people at various stages of object accumulation. I trudged up the alarmingly steep and uneven staircase, the wood having warped under the pressure of centuries.
Inside, the bedroom was a mess. I discovered box after box filled with the detritus of youth: old comic books my mother insisted must be worth some money; projects dating back to elementary school; high school and college essays; and morbid poems, including some in an unrecognizable scrawl that I’d bound together into a book with a flowery wallpaper covering. I must have recently read Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” for the first time, because one verse was clearly a rip-off, and I laughed, because at least it was proof to me that I’ve remained consistent in my miserable, brooding identity. I also found a treasure trove of cassette tapes, some I’d even listen to right now—Dinosaur Jr., Liz Phair, Alice in Chains—and some I wouldn’t, such as a Hootie & the Blowfish live bootleg from 1992. I don’t know what to tell you, man, the ’90s were weird.
There were also postcards from girls I no longer remember and long, desperate letters from ones I do. Pictures of friends whose names are lost to me and pictures of friends who I still see all the time; posters of concerts I’d been to by bands that haven’t existed in decades; and posters of Keanu Reeves looking beautiful with great hair—evidence that at least some things never change. There were Boy Scout badges, and photos of me and my friends looking like we were in a ’90s boy band, and photos of my dead friend, who actually was in a ’90s boy band, and photos of people I’d thought at the time would be in my life forever and, of course, would not. I found my old shit, in other words, which feels like an appropriate term because I found it all foul.
By coincidence, I wasn’t the only person staring down a personal history. A former high school classmate came to visit me while I was going through my old things—I’d found a mixtape he’d made me in the pile—and he showed me his latest project: thousands of archived emails that our group of friends had sent, beginning in 1996. At first I was thrilled about the prospect of being able to read what we were talking about back then, and I jumped into the messages, but the excitement didn’t last long. Here was someone writing under my name in a voice that no longer exists, and what was worse, speaking at length and with no shortage of emotional conviction about things I no longer remember caring about. I felt the same way about the dusty boxes of memories, a strange dissociative feeling like none of this had ever happened, or had happened to someone else, someone who wasn’t me. Reading some of the old letters felt like eavesdropping on conversations that I wasn’t meant to hear. It all engendered a sense of revulsion.
Throw it all away, I told my mother. I don’t want any of it. It’s not mine, I said, which hurt her feelings—something I seem to be very good at doing, much as I don’t want to. Why wouldn’t I want to dig through it all for hours and pick out the things I want? she asked. The honest answer is, I don’t know. At least not yet.
The repugnance I felt for my belongings seemed off to me. Based on what I gather from Marie Kondo’s famous Netflix show about organizing, which I haven’t seen but have read roughly 10,000 posts about so therefore am an expert on, it’s supposed to be hard for people to let go of their sentimental clutter, right? I asked around…
Please go read the rest over at Boston Magazine. Ok bye.