Confirmed: We are the baddies


This is the tale of a “heroic” Navy SEAL, Edward Gallagher.

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 life-threatening.

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.

Yes, there was an investigation. He was acquitted of multiple murders and was punished by being demoted one rank. That was it. This so angered the brave men and women who want the right to gun down young girls and old men that they lobbied hard to have this petty punishment dismissed, and they won: Donald Trump gave him a full pardon and restored his previous rank.

The man is a monster, as are many of his fellow SEALs. I’ll make an exception for the SEALs who were so outraged at his behavior that they brought him up on charges. Only now he’s back in business, tainting the honor, what’s left of it, of the military.

What is that guy going to be like if he ever returns to civilian life?

Comments

  1. says

    Only now he’s back in business, tainting the honor, what’s left of it, of the military.

    There is no honor left. Thus he cannot possibly taint the honor, instead he can only further confirm that the already awful reputation of the USA military is justified.

  2. says

    “What is that guy going to be like if he ever returns to civilian life?”

    A depressingly all too common state or local police officer.

  3. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Monarchies really do live in a completely separate reality than regular people. They have their own code of conduct and “civility” [yes scare quotes]. Funny how most British agree and smile talking of the “royals”, while refusing to abolish them. Seems [tradition] is more important than anything (as I see them.)
    — Being one of those rebellious colonials, who rejected daffy King George III soundly

    too silly

  4. Larry says

    Trump would pardon Lt. Calley of My Lai infamy. I’d held our armed forces as the last bastion against Trump’s onslaught against whatever was still good about our country but I’m afraid they’ve been assimilated. What a sad and horrific story.

    I’m truly afraid we’re on a downward spiral and accelerating. If we don’t get Trump and Co. out by the election, we’re doomed.

  5. says

    @#5, Larry:

    I’d held our armed forces as the last bastion against Trump’s onslaught against whatever was still good about our country

    What? Why would you do this? Even if you assume that a majority of “our troops” fall in the “serving their country to get money for college”, that means “willing to kill random people on orders for personal gain” which is hardly admirable — and since 2004 or so, it has been explicitly clear to anybody who isn’t actively ignoring the news that the majority of our military is ethically and morally monstrous. Why would you consider them “honorable” and likely to resist Trump at this late date?

  6. kome says

    The military, the cops, not only are they becoming more and more indistinguishable from each other, both are merely tools of the rich to oppress the poor.

  7. says

    The man is a monster, as are many of his fellow SEALs. I’ll make an exception for the SEALs who were so outraged at his behavior that they brought him up on charges.

    That’s like one bunch of mafia hit men bringing another up on charges because his wet work is too messy.

  8. Rich Woods says

    @chigau #1:

    He could run for President.

    Sounds like he might actually go out and shoot someone on 5th Avenue.

  9. microraptor says

    I’ve seen it asked who would voluntarily join a military that’s been at war for 18 years.

    This guy is.

    We have a volunteer military full of “macho” guys who want to go shoot brown people without getting in trouble.

  10. Artor says

    The US has been the Evil Empire for decades already. Before it was big enough to qualify, it was just evil. This only continues a long tradition.

  11. raven says

    What is that guy going to be like if he ever returns to civilian life?

    Once a monster, always a monster.

    I doubt that this guy ever intended to leave the Navy until they pushed him out.
    Where else is he going to be able to indulge his love of killing people.

    I do suspect that the Navy is going to keep him far away from any sort of responsibility now though.
    He is unable to follow orders and do what his real job was supposed to be.

  12. wzrd1 says

    By pardoning a war criminal, who repeatedly violated the Hague conventions, Trump has effectively made himself a war criminal.
    Perhaps, both should get a bag over their heads and rapid transportation to the Hague for trial.
    Of course, Dumb Donald would then claim he can pardon himself of crimes against humanity conviction at the Hague…

  13. KG says

    Being one of those rebellious colonials, who rejected daffy King George III soundly

    too silly – slithey tove@4

    You appear to be commenting in the wrong thread. But in any case, the American Revolution is most accurately seen as a falling-out among thieves. One of the motives of the rebels was the desire to get on with stealing land from the Indians as fast as possible. The British authorities (for entirely selfsih motives) wanted a pause.

  14. nomdeplume says

    And don’t forget the US does not recognise the International Criminal Court and would refuse to have any Americans guilty of war crimes charged there.

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    beergoggles @19: Yeah, like churches and corporations, to name only two other kinds of hierarchical institutions. The difference is that armed forces are the only one of those three which is arguably necessary, unless you can magically change human nature.

  16. rrutis1 says

    #12 While I agree with you in principle, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the largely poor and lower middle class that the military propaganda machine targets as recruits. These are the same kids that this country has failed to give a good education which leaves them poorly informed and already desperate from their economic background, a terrible combination.

  17. Ishikiri says

    One of the things I hate about presidential elections is that there is no conceivable candidate under the current regime who would fight to reduce military spending to pre-1941 levels (adjusted for inflation) and abolish the CIA. They all just do varying amounts of signaling that they “support the troops.”

    @ Rob Grigjanis, #20:

    The problem with spending so much on the military/intelligence establishment is that you have to justify it by inventing reasons to use it, which is how we ended up in this situation.

  18. says

    @ Larry #5
    “I’d held our armed forces as the last bastion against Trump’s onslaught against whatever was still good about our country but I’m afraid they’ve been assimilated.”

    But why though? Our military is mostly made of aimless young men with a fetish for violence who volunteered for the prospect of killing some Muslims and getting rewarded for it. It’s essentially a mercenary force with the only regulations being centered around how to tie a shoelace and make a bed. It’s like if Jordan Peterson had an armed death cult.

    And it was that way well before Trump.

  19. says

    @ Larry #5
    “I’d held our armed forces as the last bastion against Trump’s onslaught against whatever was still good about our country but I’m afraid they’ve been assimilated.”

    But why though? Our military is mostly made of aimless young men with a fetish for violence who volunteered for the prospect of killing some Muslims and getting rewarded for it. It’s essentially a mercenary force with the only regulations being centered around how to tie a shoelace and make a bed. It’s like if Jordan Peterson had an armed death cult.

    And it was that way well before Trump.

  20. microraptor says

    rrutis1 @21: There are plenty of people like that in the armed forces these days- a coworker’s daughter joined the National Guard last year because a single mother who’s working two jobs can’t put a kid through college. She’s doing bookkeeping for her unit.

    But military enlistment is very much buoyed by “join the army, travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them.” When I was a kid, the leader of my scout troop would tell us about machine-gunning the Viet Kong from a helicopter. Or we heard stories about Iraq (that would be Desert Storm). This was “cool” and a reason to join the military- you got to shoot guns at people and blow them up with missiles. It is very pervasive in American ideology.

  21. Roi Du Voyageur says

    It is very pervasive in American ideology.

    I found these recruitment videos (both of which I saw on TV when they first aired) very striking in their differences in tone and approach.

    US Marines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDZ2fMHTvwk

    Canadian Armed Forces: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnzz6WznsE8

    I acknowledge that Canada’s security as a nation relies–to a profound degree–on the U.S. being our closest ally, in all ways, so our national character when it comes to defence is enabled at least in part by U.S. support. Canada isn’t at all militarized as a society. Our coast guard, for example, wears duty uniforms that have been likened to postal workers: https://twitter.com/coastguardcan/status/823244129173966848

  22. Ishikiri says

    @Roi Du Voyageur, #26:

    [block]Our coast guard, for example, wears duty uniforms that have been likened to postal workers[/block]

    Because they’re blue? US Coast Guard members wear beige work uniforms if I recall correctly, but other than that they aren’t really styled any differently.

    That’s not to negate the rest of your comment, probably the only other countries with a military culture approaching that of the US are China and Russia. An element of it exists in the former imperial powers of Europe, but it’s much diminished.

  23. Zeppelin says

    I have sympathy for people who join the US military the same way I have sympathy for organ thieves. Yeah, they’re probably desperate. They’d probably rather be doing something else, and they need to make a living somehow. But they specifically chose a criminal pursuit that involves doing violence to strangers. That suggests serious moral depravity.

  24. logicalcat says

    Lots of privileged people in this thread with little understanding about why people join the military. The majority of the military doesn’t even kill people. They run logistics, and operations. Not to mention the over representation of people of color and the fact that the military is the nations largest employer of trans people (which was why among many things, the ban was such a slap in teh face to them).

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    logicalcat @30: There are also the training and educational opportunities that a lot of people couldn’t afford if they didn’t serve in the military.

  26. Porivil Sorrens says

    Ah, yeah, I always forget that. Working to help the biggest purveyor of mass murder and global misery in human history isn’t that bad if you did it to get free college.

  27. Porivil Sorrens says

    Nope, and we’re all complicit in that. However, you can’t avoid paying taxes without being arrested. No one is forced to enlist. There is no draft, and millions of people get by just fine without enlisting. There are always alternatives to joining up and helping them kill innocent people overseas.

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