Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said on Thursday the Navy will investigate SEAL Eddie Gallagher over his admission in a recent interview that he did intend to kill an ISIS detainee despite being acquitted of the man’s murder in 2019.
‘The grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us and that nobody at that time had a problem with it. We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him. Everybody was on board… It was to do medical scenarios on him until he died,’ he said.
Gallagher angrily denied murder charges during his military hearing in 2019, and said he was being made to be a scapegoat for his entire platoon.
The remarks in the interview seem to fly in the face of that.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Austin was speaking at a press conference when he was asked, while leaving the podium, if the military was investigating.
He said he ‘knows’ the Navy is looking into it but couldn’t give further details, according to reporters who were there.
Prosecutors claimed during his high-profile trial that Gallagher had briefly treated the ISIS fighter by inserting a breathing tube in his neck after he was brought to the US operating base in Mosul when he was severely injured in an airstrike.
Gallagher’s platoon members told investigators they then saw Gallagher stab the fighter in the neck several times.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Austin was speaking at a press conference when he was asked, while leaving the podium, if the military was investigating. He said he ‘knows’ the Navy is looking into it but couldn’t give further details, according to reporters who were there
Gallagher, who was the platoon chief during the Iraq deployment, has always claimed the war crimes charges brought against him were made up by six platoon members who wanted to force him out.
In the podcast interview, Gallagher continued to deny that he stabbed the fighter.
He claimed, instead, that the SEALs did not treat the fighter for his injuries and jointly decided to practice medical procedures on him until he died.
‘I didn’t stab him. I didn’t stab that dude,’ Gallagher said. ‘That dude died from all the medical treatments that were done – and there was plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.
‘I mean, he was going to die, regardless. We weren’t taking any prisoners.’
It is not clear exactly what procedures were allegedly performed on the ISIS fighter, who died about 20 minutes after being brought to the US base.
When he was asked why he cut the airway into the fighter’s throat to insert the breathing tube, Gallagher said in the podcast: ‘Just for practice. I was practicing to see how fast I could do one in.’
The Navy would not comment on Gallagher’s latest claims.
Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in 2019 of stabbing the ISIS fighter to death but was convicted of unlawfully posing for photos with his dead body
In the podcast interview, Gallagher continued to deny that he stabbed the fighter. He claimed, instead, that the SEALs did not treat the fighter for his injuries and jointly decided to practice medical procedures on him until he died
His attorney Timothy Parlatore told military news outlet
He said prosecutors chose not to bring up the claims during his marital court trial so he did not address them.
‘When the terrorist came in, they did the initial assessment and they knew that he was going to die,’ Parlatore said.
‘There was no way that he was surviving this thing. And, exactly what he said there: They decided – ok, he’s going to die anyway, let’s use this as an opportunity for training. We’ll just do procedures on him.’
Parlatore argued that none of the procedures carried out on the fighter sped up his death.
Gallagher’s attorney said none of his clients recent comments made on the podcast changed his defense.
‘They all knew that this is how the guy died and they made up a story after the fact,’ Parlatore said.
‘Everything that I said at the trial is absolutely true.
‘The prosecutors chose not to make this argument at the trial because, quite frankly, it was inconsistent with their theory of the case. So they didn’t want to make these arguments at the time. And I didn’t need to make them at the time because it didn’t matter.’
Gallagher, who was the platoon chief during the Iraq deployment, has always claimed the war crimes charges brought against him were made up by six platoon members who wanted to force him out. He is pictured above with his wife Andrea following his acquittal for murder
Gallagher’s case drew widespread controversy with President Trump repeatedly intervening on his behalf. Gallagher and his wife Andrea met with Trump and First Lady Melania at Mar-a-Lago back in 2019 following his acquittal for murder
Court records obtained by the
The knowledge that the fighter was used for medical training was detailed as part of a defense motion filed back in 2019.
‘At the time that the ISIS fighter was brought to the compound, he was at or near death and, although SOC Gallagher initially attempted to save his life, these efforts quickly proved to be fruitless,’ the motion read.
‘Once it was clear that the ISIS fighter was beyond saving, the platoon’s medic… took over and began using the newly dead or nearly dead ISIS fighter as a training aid to practice performing medical procedures.’
The court records and defense motion did not detail how much, if any, pain medication was given to the fighter while the medical training was carried out.
In unseen videos that emerged after his trial, Gallagher’s platoon SEALs chillingly described him as ‘freaking evil’, ‘toxic’ and trigger-happy.
The SEALs were interviewed by naval criminal investigators before Gallagher was charged in September 2018 and the later acquitted.
In addition to the video interviews, combat footage and text message exchanges between the SEALs were also released.
They were all part of the investigative files used in Gallagher’s 2019 court martial trial, which is essentially a military version of a civil trial.
Gallagher has always maintained that the charges brought against him were made up by six members of his platoon who wanted to force him out
Gallagher’s recent admission about his fellow SEALs is the latest unexpected turn in his high-profile case.
His trial drew widespread controversy at the time after then-President Trump repeatedly intervened on his behalf and had him released from pretrial detention.
Gallagher was demoted following the trial but was later allowed to keep his Trident Pin and retire a SEAL following Trump’s intervention.
Trump took an interest in the case after Bernard Kerick, a former business partner to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, became an advocate for the family and made appearances in conservative media.
He tweeted in support of Gallagher, praising his service to the country and saying the case was ‘handled very badly from the beginning’.
Shortly after the trial, Trump got involved again by ordering the Navy to withdraw commendations that prosecutors received for their work.
Trump then directed the Navy to restore Gallagher to his previous rank.
The then-President gave the direct order to allow Gallagher to retire without losing his SEAL status.
Trump tweeted: ‘Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned.’