'No further punishment is necessary' — Eddie Gallagher's lawyers make their case for clemency to the Navy's top admiral


VIDEO: A Navy SEAL is accused of committing war crimes in Iraq

Lawyers for former Navy SEAL Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher have told the Navy's top officer that "no further punishment is necessary" since their client already lost a promotion, Silver Star award, a coveted instructor post, medical treatment for traumatic brain injury, and his own freedom after being incarcerated for more than double the maximum punishment for the one crime he was found guilty of at court-martial, according to a letter requesting clemency that was submitted on Oct. 1.

Carl Prine at Navy Times first reported on the contents of the letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, which refers to Gallagher as "Chief," although he was reduced in rank to Special Warfare Operator 1st Class soon after trial.

"Chief Gallagher has devoted his entire adult life to serving our country and putting himself in harms way to keep us safe. He has eight combat deployments and numerous medals. He has endured physical damage amounting to 18 separate documented incidents of brain injuries," reads the letter, which was obtained by Task & Purpose.

"Given this history, we submit that the suffering inflicted on Chief Gallagher and his family as a result of this case far exceeds what is appropriate for a charge of posing for a photo with a dead terrorist."

Gallagher was cleared of the most serious charges of murder and attempted murder at his court martial in July, and was only found guilty on a single charge of unlawfully posing with a human casualty, which got him a sentence of four months' confinement and reduction in rank to E6. The court martial has not been finalized yet, since it's up to the convening authority to approve or modify the sentence.

"We expect a decision to be made by Adm. Gilday by the end of October," Cmdr. Nate Christenson, a Navy spokesman, told Task & Purpose in an emailed statement.

The sole photo charge, Gallagher's attorneys argue, would lead to a "disproportionate" punishment for the 20-year SEAL, who stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars from his retirement and brand him a convicted felon for an act that other members of his platoon did right alongside him.

Gallagher is just one of "thousands" of service members who have posed with an enemy corpse in combat, according to the letter, yet he is the "only American service member in history to ever receive a General Court-Martial conviction, absent a finding of guilty for a more serious charge."

Members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon pose with the deceased ISIS fighter.

As part of their argument, the attorneys also included photos shown during the trial, in which other members of Gallagher's platoon posed with the body at their compound in Iraq, to include a commissioned officer.

"As was revealed during Chief Gallagher's trial, substantially all of these service members also took individual photos with the terrorist," the letter says. "Investigators, however, never searched for the photos taken by other members of the platoon, and Chief Gallagher was the only participant in this photo, or any other photos, charged with a crime."

In addition, defense attorneys claim a "long-standing" Navy custom says that junior sailors cannot "receive more severe punishment than a senior for offenses arising out of the same incident," they write. In this case, they argue, Gallagher is being punished for posing for photos while his superior officer, Lt. Thomas MacNeill, isn't being punished at all for posing with the body right alongside him.

"LT MacNeil has received no punishment whatsoever for his conduct, either for posing with the terrorist, or for regularly consuming alcohol with the junior enlisted SEALs in Iraq," the letter says. According to his testimony at trial, MacNeill said he possessed a platoon video with a number of photos with casualties in it that he admitted was "inappropriate."

The letter goes on to argue that the prosecution committed "misconduct" before and during the trial, including what defense attorneys called an "extreme measure of targeting defense counsel through an illegal email tracker." As the letter states, the Navy's lead prosecutor was removed from the case over the bungled spying operation, which was meant to ferret out media leaks.

"We certainly hope and trust that the CNO will review this and justice will finally be done," Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher's attorneys, told Task & Purpose. "I'd like [Gallagher] to retire as a chief petty officer. I'd like him to have the full pension that he's earned, and that's it."

You can read the entire letter below:

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

Read More Show Less

The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

Read More Show Less

I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

Read More Show Less

An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

Read More Show Less