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Trump: Navy SEAL accused of war crimes being moved to 'less restrictive confinement'
President Donald Trump said Saturday morning in a tweet that Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher will be moved to "less restrictive confinement" after a group of 40 lawmakers sent a letter urging him to be freed from pre-trial confinement.
Gallagher, a 19-year SEAL accused of war crimes during the 2017 Battle of Mosul, "will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court," Trump tweeted. "Process should move soon."
Attorneys for Gallagher asked that he be released from pretrial confinement in January, which was denied. But now that the president has intervened, Phil Stackhouse, a civilian attorney for Gallagher, told Task & Purpose he believes his client will be released sometime this weekend.
As Stackhouse explained, there isn't any "less restrictive confinement" at the Miramar Brig facility where Gallagher is being held, so he will mostly likely be released to his family and placed under some restrictions, such as being required to check-in by phone and to have no contact with witnesses in the case.
"While I don't know timelines affirmatively, the confinement facility is staffed 24 hours a day and so is Eddie's command," Stackhouse said. "One would hope that when a directive has been issued by the President it would happen quickly, so our anticipation is that it will happen today or tomorrow."
A spokesman for Navy Region Southwest did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose.
NCIS Agent Joe Warpinski, who has been investigating Gallagher's case since April, said during Gallagher's Article 32 hearing in November that he had taken sworn testimony from nine members of Gallagher's unit, SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon. According to Warpinski, the platoon was operating in Mosul alongside the Iraqi Emergency Response Division when the alleged murder occurred.
The Iraqis called in an airstrike on a building and then subsequently captured a wounded ISIS fighter, who Warpinski approximated to be about 15 years old. After the fighter was taken prisoner — and briefly interviewed by an Iraqi journalist — he was turned over to the SEALs at their compound and medics began treating him, including Gallagher.
Gallagher briefly left as other SEALs began to help with medical treatment of the fighter, who was having trouble breathing and was apparently hit with shrapnel in the left leg. But one other SEAL medic, C.S. (witnesses were reduced to initials in the proceedings to shield them from potentially being placed on so-called "ISIS kill lists") told NCIS he believed he had just stabilized the fighter before Gallagher "walked up without saying anything at all" and started stabbing him.
C.S. told investigators it left him in "complete disbelief."
Afterward, according to the charges, Gallagher posed next to the body and took pictures, in addition to carrying out his reenlistment ceremony.
Since his arrest, Gallagher's supporters have taken to social networks and the media to make their case that he did not do what he has been accused of. So far, the government has introduced hundreds of pages of witness testimony, text messages, and photographs into evidence.
Gallagher has been in pretrial custody since Sep. 11, 2018.
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.