[Marxism] Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 24 07:13:45 MDT 2019

(In the late 80s, I worked with a database consultant at Goldman-Sachs 
who served in El Salvador with the Navy Seals. He told me that he was 
ashamed of what he did there and refused to tell me why. This article 
gives you an idea of the sort of thing Navy Seals are capable of. As 
depraved as Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was, he was 
nowhere near as depraved as the higher-ups who tried to protect him.)

NY Times, April 24, 2019
Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes
By Dave Philipps

Stabbing a defenseless teenage captive to death. Picking off a 
school-age girl and an old man from a sniper’s roost. Indiscriminately 
spraying neighborhoods with rockets and machine-gun fire.

Navy SEAL commandos from Team 7’s Alpha Platoon said they had seen their 
highly decorated platoon chief commit shocking acts in Iraq. And they 
had spoken up, repeatedly. But their frustration grew as months passed 
and they saw no sign of official action.

Tired of being brushed off, seven members of the platoon called a 
private meeting with their troop commander in March 2018 at Naval Base 
Coronado near San Diego. According to a confidential Navy criminal 
investigation report obtained by The New York Times, they gave him the 
bloody details and asked for a formal investigation.

But instead of launching an investigation that day, the troop commander 
and his senior enlisted aide — both longtime comrades of the accused 
platoon leader, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher — warned the 
seven platoon members that speaking out could cost them and others their 
careers, according to the report.

The clear message, one of the seven told investigators, was “Stop 
talking about it.”

The platoon members eventually forced the referral of their concerns to 
authorities outside the SEALs, and Chief Gallagher now faces a 
court-martial, with his trial set to begin May 28.

But the account of the March 2018 meeting and myriad other details in 
the 439-page report paint a disturbing picture of a subculture within 
the SEALs that prized aggression, even when it crossed the line, and 
that protected wrongdoers.

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 

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.

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Navy SEALs are regarded as the most elite commando force in the American 
military. But that reputation has been blotted repeatedly in recent 
years by investigations of illegal beatings, killings and theft, and 
reports of drug use in the ranks. In January, the top commander of the 
SEALs, Rear Adm. Collin Green, ordered a 90-day review of the force’s 
culture and training; the results have not yet been made public.

As Chief Gallagher’s men were sounding an alarm about killings in Iraq, 
his superiors were lavishing praise on him. An evaluation quoted in the 
investigation report called Chief Gallagher the best chief of the 12 in 
the team, and said, “This is the man I want leading SEALs in combat.”

A few days after the March 2018 meeting, the chief was awarded a Bronze 
Star for valor under fire in Iraq.

A month later, the seven platoon members finally succeeded in spurring 
their commanders to formally report the killings of the three Iraqis to 
the Navy Criminal Investigation Service, by threatening to go directly 
to top Navy brass and to the news media.

Chief Gallagher was arrested in September on more than a dozen charges, 
including premeditated murder and attempted murder. If convicted, he 
could face life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all the 

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The chief’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said the Navy investigation 
report, which was first reported by Navy Times, does not offer an 
accurate account of what happened in Iraq. He said that hundreds of 
additional pages of evidence, sealed by the court, included interviews 
with platoon members who said the chief never murdered anyone.

At the same time, some conservatives have rallied to Chief Gallagher’s 
defense, raising money and pressing publicly for his release.

Chief Gallagher, through Mr. Parlatore, declined to be interviewed for 
this article.

The Navy has charged Chief Gallagher’s immediate superior, Lt. Jacob 
Portier, with failing to report the chief’s possibly criminal actions 
and with destroying evidence. Lieutenant Portier has pleaded not guilty. 
Through his lawyer, he, too, declined to be interviewed.

The investigation report indicates that a number of other high-ranking 
SEALs also knew of the allegations against the chief, and did not report 
them. But no one else has been charged in the case.

Chief Gallagher learned of the March 2018 meeting soon after it 
happened, the report indicates, and he began working to turn other SEALs 
against the accusers.

“I just got word these guys went crying to the wrong person,” Chief 
Gallagher wrote to a fellow chief in one of hundreds of text messages 
included in the report. To another, he wrote: “The only thing we can do 
as good team guys is pass the word on those traitors. They are not 
brothers at all.”

Citing his texts, the Navy kept the chief in the brig to await trial, 
saying it believed he had been trying to intimidate witnesses and 
undermine the investigation. He denies that accusation as well.

The chief’s wife, Andrea Gallagher, and his brother, Sean Gallagher, 
have appeared repeatedly on Fox News and other news outlets, calling the 
chief a hero and demanding his release. They say the allegations against 
Chief Gallagher were concocted by disgruntled subordinates who could not 
meet his demanding standards and wanted to get rid of him.

A website soliciting donations for his defense says it has raised 
$375,000, and a prominent veterans’ apparel maker is selling “Free 
Eddie” T-shirts.

Spurred by the Gallagher family, 40 Republican members of Congress 
signed a letter in March calling for the Navy to free the chief pending 
trial, and soon after, President Trump said on Twitter that he would be 
moved to “less restrictive confinement.” Chief Gallagher was released 
from the brig and is now restricted to the Navy Medical Center in San 
Diego, according to a Navy spokeswoman.

Ms. Gallagher did not respond to requests for comment.

Chief Gallagher, who is 39 and goes by the nickname Blade, is known as a 
standout even among the elite SEALs. Over the course of five deployments 
with the SEALs, he was repeatedly recognized for valor and coolheaded 
leadership under fire. He is qualified as a medic, a sniper and an 
explosives expert, and has been an instructor at BUDS, the force’s 
grueling training program. To hundreds of sailors he trained, he was a 
battle-tested veteran who fed them war stories while pushing them 
through punishing workouts in the surf.

Investigators’ interviews with more than a dozen members of Alpha 
Platoon, included in the Navy’s criminal investigation report, as well 
as other interviews with SEALs, offer a more troubling portrait of the 

When Chief Gallagher took over leadership of the platoon in 2015, SEALs 
said, he already had a reputation as a “pirate” — an operator more 
interested in fighting terrorists than in adhering to the rules and 
making rank.

A number of platoon members told investigators that at first they were 
excited to be led by a battle-hardened “legend,” but their opinion 
quickly shifted after they were deployed to Iraq in February 2017 to 
help retake Mosul from Islamic State fighters.

The SEALs in the platoon did not respond to requests for interviews for 
this article. Their names and those of others who have not been 
identified publicly in court have been withheld from this article at the 
request of the Navy, because of the covert nature of their work.

A spokeswoman for Naval Special Warfare, Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, said 
that while they are commandos, SEALs are still expected to follow the 
same laws as all other troops, adding, “It’s called special operations, 
not different operations.”

The investigation report said several members of the platoon told 
investigators that Chief Gallagher showed little regard for the safety 
of team members or the lives of civilians. Their mission was to advise 
Iraqi forces and provide assistance with snipers and drones, but they 
said the chief wanted instead to clear houses and start firefights.

He would order them to take what seemed to be needless risks, and to 
fire rockets at houses for no apparent reason, they said. He routinely 
parked an armored truck on a Tigris River bridge and emptied the truck’s 
heavy machine gun into neighborhoods on the other side with no 
discernible targets, according to one senior SEAL.

Chief Gallagher’s job was to plan and oversee missions for the platoon, 
but platoon members said he spent much of his time in a hidden perch 
with a sniper rifle, firing three or four times as often as other 
platoon snipers. They said he boasted about the number of people he had 
killed, including women.

Photos from the deployment that were stored on a hard drive seized by 
the Navy show the chief aiming sniper rifles and rocket launchers from 
rooftops in the city.

Two SEAL snipers told investigators that one day, from his sniper nest, 
Chief Gallagher shot a girl in a flower-print hijab who was walking with 
other girls on the riverbank. One of those snipers said he watched 
through his scope as she dropped, clutching her stomach, and the other 
girls dragged her away.

Another day, two other snipers said, the chief shot an unarmed man in a 
white robe with a wispy white beard. They said the man fell, a red 
blotch spreading on his back.

Before the 2017 deployment, Chief Gallagher ordered a hatchet and a 
hunting knife, both handmade by a SEAL veteran named Andrew Arrabito 
with whom he had served, text messages show. Hatchets have become an 
unofficial SEAL symbol, and some operators carry and use them on 
deployments. Chief Gallagher told Mr. Arrabito in a text message shortly 
after arriving in Iraq, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on 
someone’s skull!”

On the morning of May 4, 2017, Iraqi troops brought in an Islamic State 
fighter who had been wounded in the leg in battle, SEALs told 
investigators, and Chief Gallagher responded over the radio with words 
to the effect of “he’s mine.” The SEALs estimated that the captive was 
about 15 years old. A video clip shows the youth struggling to speak, 
but SEAL medics told investigators that his wounds had not appeared 

A medic was treating the youth on the ground when Chief Gallagher walked 
up without a word and stabbed the wounded teenager several times in the 
neck and once in the chest with his hunting knife, killing him, two SEAL 
witnesses said.

Iraqi officers who were at the scene told Navy investigators that they 
did not see the captive die, but disputed the stabbing account, saying 
it seemed out of character for the chief.

Minutes after the death, Chief Gallagher and his commanding officer, 
Lieutenant Portier, gathered some nearby SEALs for a re-enlistment 
ceremony, snapping photos of the platoon standing over the body.

In recent years, photos of re-enlistment ceremonies in unusual 
circumstances — while scuba diving or skydiving, for instance — have 
gone viral on social media. The chief’s variation would have reinforced 
his image as a hard-charging pirate, one SEAL said.

Chief Gallagher, seen in a photo taken during the 2017 deployment. 
Several members of his platoon told investigators that at first they 
were excited to be led by a battle-hardened “legend.”

A week later, records show, Chief Gallagher texted a picture of the dead 
captive to a fellow SEAL in California, saying, “Good story behind this, 
got him with my hunting knife.”

But his platoon did not see it as a good story, according to the 
investigation report: The SEALs called a platoon meeting and discussed 
how to keep the chief away from anyone he could harm.

When senior platoon members confronted Chief Gallagher about the 
captive’s death, they said, he told them, “Stop worrying about it, they 
do a lot worse to us.”

The SEALs told investigators they reported the killing to Lieutenant 
Portier that night and at other times during the deployment, but the 
lieutenant took no action. They said the lieutenant had trained under 
Chief Gallagher at BUDS and “idolized” him.

Members of the platoon hoped the chief would be reprimanded when they 
returned home from Iraq in August 2017, according to the report. It 
didn’t happen. The report said they spoke repeatedly to the lieutenant’s 
superior, Commander Breisch, and to Chief Alazzawi and another Team 7 
master chief, but were told to “decompress” and “let it go.”

Commander Breisch and Chief Alazzawi disputed that account. They told 
investigators that they had no knowledge of the alleged war crimes until 
the March 2018 meeting, and that they had encouraged anyone in the 
platoon who had witnessed anything criminal to report it to Navy 

The Navy declined to make Commander Breisch or Chief Alazzawi available 
for interviews, citing the continuing investigation.

Each member of the SEAL team had a duty to report wrongdoing as soon as 
possible, said Lawrence Brennan, a retired Navy captain and military 
lawyer who now teaches law at Fordham University. But he added, “The 
willingness of an institution to turn a blind eye is common.”

“It’s especially true in warfare communities,” he said. “And in the 
SEALs, you don’t just keep it in the family, you keep it in the 
immediate family.”

Chief Gallagher had been accused of serious misconduct before. According 
to the investigation report, Army Special Forces troops serving with him 
in Afghanistan in 2010 reported that, as a sniper, he had shot through 
an Afghan girl to hit the man who was carrying her, killing them both. 
Commander Breisch told investigators in 2018 that the 2010 report had 
been investigated and no wrongdoing had been found.

In 2014, the report says, Mr. Gallagher was detained at a traffic stop, 
where he allegedly tried to run over a Navy police officer; he was 
released to his commander, and there is no record of punishment in the 
report. Soon after, he was promoted to chief.

Among the text messages included in the investigation report are some 
between Chief Gallagher and another SEAL chief, David Swarts, who is 
being prosecuted for the beating of detainees in a separate case dating 
from 2012.

Chief Gallagher told Chief Swarts about his looming investigation and 
said he felt he could not trust anyone any more. When Chief Swarts 
responded that he never thought SEALs would report one another, Chief 
Gallagher replied, “Me either, those days are gone.”

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