Members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon did not appear happy about testifying against their platoon leader, retired special operations chief Edward Gallagher. But his behavior during a 2017 deployment in Iraq was so horrific that they felt they had no choice but to speak up, according to never-before-seen shocking video from the investigation into Gallagher’s war crimes obtained by the New York Times. “The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator 1st Class Craig Miller said. Another described Gallagher as “toxic,” and a third member of the platoon said it was obvious that Gallagher “was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving.” The Times reveals the story in the latest episode of its new TV series, The Weekly, which involved “thousands of pages of photos, transcripts and investigative reports, as well as videos from Iraq.”
The videos show how the Navy SEALs who spoke up against Gallagher appeared nervous to be breaking one of the cardinal rules of the elite force: do not report other SEALs for misconduct. Breaking that rule carried the risk of being labeled a traitor. But those who were interviewed by investigators, and have never spoken up publicly, seemed to believe they had no choice, considering the horrific things they had seen, including the shooting of civilians and the stabbing of a wounded detainee with a hunting knife. “Did Eddie say anything when he did this or did he just literally pull out a knife and just start stabbing him?” one SEAL was asked. “He just pulled out a knife and started stabbing him,” he replied.
The interviews paint a starkly different picture than that being pushed by President Donald Trump, who has described Gallagher as one of “our great fighters.” Gallagher was found not guilty by a military jury for the stabbing and was acquitted of the most serious charges. Although he was demoted after the jury convicted him of posing for a photo with a dead ISIS fighter, Trump later restored Gallagher’s rank.
Gallagher has long said the charges against him were fabricated by SEALs who were angry at him because they could not meet his high standards and wanted him out. When asked about the videos, he stuck to the same talking point. “My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me, but I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment,” Gallagher said in a statement. An attorney for Gallagher told CBS News that what matters is what the jury decided: “The jury heard all the evidence, the prosecution’s and the defense’s, and acquitted Eddie of every single serious charge. Enough said.”
Although Gallagher has long insisted those who testified against him were part of a coordinated plot, private group text conversations that were also obtained by the Times appear to show the men emphasizing the need to just speak the truth and not exaggerate anything. “Tell the truth, don’t lie or embellish,” one said in a group text message. “That way, he can’t say that we slandered him in any way.”