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Testimony reveals Navy SEAL Team 6 member blasted judge in Gallagher trial and threatened to burn down courtroom
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — Testimony in the military trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher earlier this week revealed that an active-duty member of SEAL Team 6 had disparaged the judge overseeing the trial and said many of his colleagues in the elite unit did not care about killing civilians.
While under cross examination on Wednesday morning, former Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dylan Dille was questioned at length about a private WhatsApp group chat he and his fellow SEALs used to pass along information within their unit as well as news about the Gallagher case.
In the thread named "The Sewing Circle," the SEALs — who were apparently concerned with war crimes allegedly committed by Gallagher — tried to distinguish themselves as their own "Brotherhood" in contrast to what supporters of Gallagher have called the "Real Brotherhood."
In his testimony, Dille said "there's a clear line in the sand" between both camps of current and former SEALs on what is acceptable behavior in combat.
"It ain't over until we're sitting on a front porch with six shooters and the 'Real Brotherhood' comes knocking," Dille wrote in one text message. "I look forward to laying down some lead again on that occasion."
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore then asked, "Who is the "Real Brotherhood?"
"People who are okay with war crimes," Dille said. He went on to describe them as an "angry mob" of the entire conservative media and former SEALs. Dille and other SEAL witnesses have said in testimony that they have received online threats.
Parlatore then brought up text messages in the thread sent by SO1 Dalton Tolbert, who was a sniper for SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon during their 2017 Iraq deployment. Gallagher has been accused of murdering a wounded ISIS fighter and using his sniper rifle to indiscriminately fire on noncombatants.
Did [Tolbert] say he "worked with a bunch of people who don't care about killing civilians?" Parlatore asked.
Dille said yes.
"Where does he work?" Parlatore continued.
Dille, clearly uncomfortable before responding, then said, "Development Group."
Naval Special Warfare Development Group is the name of the classified unit of SEALs commonly referred to as SEAL Team 6.
At that point, the judge, Capt. Aaron Rugh, shuffled members of the jury and Dille out of the courtroom and had a private discussion with Parlatore and the prosecutor.
Once court resumed with the jury present, Parlatore then asked whether Tolbert had ever said in text messages that he "was going to burn this motherfucking court room to the ground," a reference to where the trial was taking place at Naval Base San Diego.
"Yes," Dille said.
Parlatore also said Tolbert had disparaged defense attorneys and the judge in text messages, though he did not go into specifics.
However, a screenshot of a text message thread obtained by Task & Purpose showed that Tolbert had referred to Rugh as "this shady ass judge."
According to a source familiar with the matter, Tolbert also wrote in the text message thread, "what a fucking joke. Somebody fire this pussy ass fucking judge. Who's fucking courtroom is this? Time to man the fuck up fags."
"If the motherfucking courthouse burned down, I did it," Tolbert wrote, according to the source. "Then they can go fuck themselves with the pussy footing bullshit."
In his testimony, Dille told Parlatore he took the supposed threat against the courtroom as a joke.
Tolbert is expected to testify on Friday.
Naval Special Warfare officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment by deadline.
A Corpsman went to a military hospital for a routine shoulder surgery. 4 days later he was dead, and his parents say the Navy is to blame
Jordan Way was living a waking nightmare.
The 23-year-old sailor laid in bed trembling. At times, his body would shake violently as he sobbed. He had recently undergone a routine shoulder surgery on Dec. 12, 2017, and was hoping to recover.
Instead, Jordan couldn't do much of anything other than think about the pain. Simple tasks like showering, dressing himself, or going to the bathroom alone were out of the question, and the excruciating sensation in his shoulder made lying down to sleep feel like torture.
"Imagine being asleep," he called to tell his mother Suzi at one point, "but you can still feel the pain."
To help, military doctors gave Jordan oxycodone, a powerful semi-synthetic opiate they prescribed to dull the sensation in his shoulder. Navy medical records show that he went on to take more than 80 doses of the drug in the days following the surgery, dutifully following doctor's orders to the letter.
Instinctively, Jordan, a Navy corpsman who by day worked at the Twentynine Palms naval hospital where he was now a patient, knew something was wrong. The drugs seemed to have little effect. His parents advised him to seek outside medical advice, but base doctors insisted the drugs just needed more time to work.
"They've got my back," Jordan had told his parents before the surgery, which happened on a Tuesday. By Saturday, he was dead.
The Navy has paused proceedings that could strip Eddie Gallagher and three other SEALs of their tridents while the service awaits a written order to formally stand down, a senior Navy official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
Rear Adm. Collin Green, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, was expected to decide on the matter after the SEALs appeared before a review board next month. But Trump tweeted on Thursday that Gallagher was in no danger of losing his trident, a sacred symbol of being part of the SEAL community.
"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (Reuters) - President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday to receive the remains of two American soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week.
Trump, who met with families of the soldiers, was accompanied at the base by first lady Melania Trump, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and national security adviser Robert O'Brien.
Two airmen from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, were killed on Thursday when two T-38 Talon training aircraft crashed during training mission, according to a message posted on the base's Facebook age.
The two airmen's names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.
A total of four airmen were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, base officials had previously announced.
The medical conditions for the other two people involved in the crash was not immediately known.
An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.
Emergency responders from Vance Air Force Base are at the crash scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts.
Read the entire message below:
VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance Air Force Base Airmen were killed in an aircraft mishap at approximately 9:10 a.m. today.
At the time of the accident, the aircraft were performing a training mission.
Vance emergency response personnel are on scene to treat casualties and assist in recovery efforts.
Names of the deceased will be withheld pending next of kin notification.
A safety investigation team will investigate the incident.
Additional details will be provided as information becomes available. #VanceUpdates.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information is released.
The Army has identified the two soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday as 33-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, and 25-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr.