Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
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.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.