Special operations forces — be they Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Delta Force or Air Force commandos — generally aren’t inclined to blab about their colleagues unless they have valid reasons to do so.
So, when a group of Navy SEALs tell investigators that one of their own was known to be an out-of-control killer of innocent bystanders, then I believe we ought to listen and take heed.
What’s more, they are talking about a SEAL on whose behalf Donald Trump intervened. He is Navy Chief Edward Gallagher, who was convicted of conduct unbecoming a special operations warrior. Trump decided the Navy acted incorrectly and ordered that Gallagher retain his SEAL Trident emblem. Yes, the commander in chief interceded on behalf of a SEAL who had been found guilty of behaving in a manner not in keeping with the elite fighting force.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was forced to resign over the matter. The president has come under intense — and justified — criticism for meddling in a military command issue. Yes, he is the commander in chief, but that doesn’t make his meddlesome behavior any more correct.
Now the New York Times has heard from a number of SEALs who served with Gallagher as members of SEAL Team 7. They say that Gallagher shot children. The NY Times acquired some video of the SEALs spilling the beans on Gallagher.
According to the Times: “The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator (Craig) Miller told investigators. “The guy was toxic, ” Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. “You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.
And yet this is the individual who drew the commander in chief’s attention and for whom the president upset the traditional military chain of command. He interceded where he was empowered to go, but where he should have stayed away.
The SEALs who have outed their colleague have told us plenty about the consequence of a president intervening where he didn’t belong. That they would do so while breaking an unwritten rule that they remain silent about their operations tells me about the enormity of what they witnessed.