Navy SEALs who witnessed their platoon chief commit war crimes in Iraq were encouraged not to speak out, and told they could lose their jobs for reporting him at a private meeting with a superior officer last year, according to new reports from The New York Times.
A confidential Navy criminal investigation obtained by the Times reveals that the commandos saw Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher stab and kill an unarmed teenage captive, shoot to death a young girl and old man, and fire indiscriminately into crowds of civilians. But when the men on Gallagher’s team called a private meeting with their troop commander and demanded an investigation, they were told to stay quiet on the matter, and no action was taken.
The group of seven SEALs eventually were able to force an investigation, and Chief Edward Gallagher was arrested in September on more than a dozen charges, including premeditated murder and attempted murder. The court-martial centers on a charge that Gallagher stabbed to death a teenage member of the self-proclaimed Islamic State while the unarmed youth was being treated by a medic.
The trial begins on May 28. If convicted, Gallagher could face life in prison. Democracy Now! speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and national correspondent for The New York Times Dave Philipps. His latest piece is headlined “Navy SEALs Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief for War Crimes.”