Paperwork provided to Navy Times Wednesday reveals that Rear Adm. Collin Green has personally ordered at least two Navy SEALs to go before a Trident Review Board, which will determine their fitness for remaining in the sea service’s elite unit and sporting its distinctive warfare pin.
Dated Tuesday and marked “for official use only-privacy sensitive,” the letters were addressed to Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher and his former officer in charge of Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7, Lt. Jacob X. “Jake” Portier.
On Aug. 1, shortly before he retired as the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson withdrew charges against Portier, less than a month after Gallagher’s case collapsed in court. He had been accused of helping Gallagher cover up crimes that a military jury said were never committed.
Gallagher had been charged with murdering an Islamic State prisoner of war, plus a string of other alleged war crimes, but the case collapsed in court and a panel of his peers acquitted him of all but one minor charge — posing for a photo next to a dead detainee, an allegation Gallagher never denied.
Although at least a dozen other SEALs, including a commissioned officer, also appeared in images next to the body, they were never charged with the crime. However, Gallagher was convicted and demoted to petty officer first class.
Exercising his power as the commander in chief of the armed forces, however, President Donald J. Trump on Friday advanced Gallagher back to chief, telegraphing that he thought the punishment was unfair on the eve of the highly decorated SEAL’s retirement after more than two decades in uniform.
Rear Adm. Green apparently disagreed and has convened a review board for Dec. 2 at Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters in Coronado, California, to “evaluate your operational ability, ethics, judgment, potential and motivation for continued service" as a SEAL, according to the notification.
Naval Special Warfare officials have yet to respond to a list of questions sent by Navy Times about Wednesday’s revelations, but this story will be updated if they do.
“They cheated. We played fair,” said defense attorney Marc Mukasey, who represents Gallagher. “They covered up corruption. We exposed it. They lost at trial. We won the trial. They want Eddie to suffer. We want him to retire in peace. They’re retaliating. We’re not shutting up.”
Master Chief Special Warfare Operator David Goode will chair a panel that includes a commissioned officer, Cmdr. Peter Logan, alongside three other SEAL master chiefs — SOCMs Craig Thomas, Daniel Schroeder and Timothy Ige.
It’s unclear why an enlisted SEAL will preside over a commissioned officer, but that’s how Naval Special Warfare set up the board.
Green’s letter indicates that Gallagher will be allowed to appear before the panel at 8 a.m. on Dec. 4 but a recommendation must be made to Green two days later.
Gallagher isn’t allowed to be represented by legal counsel. He’s allowed to review the evidence against him in a room set aside for his use, but he can’t copy it or take pictures of it.
He must submit a list of witnesses to Green by Nov. 27 but the rear admiral will determine if the witness is relevant or reasonably available before greenlighting an appearance before the panel, according to the letter.
The proceedings will be closed to the public and even other witnesses.
“There’s nothing Rear Adm. Green is doing here to preserve good order and discipline in the SEALs,” said Gallagher’s defense attorney, Timothy Parlatore. "He’ll say that he’s trying to make an example of Gallagher for the rest of the force. But the real message he’s sending is worse than that.
“Rear Adm. Green likes to talk about the ‘Gallagher Effect’ on the SEALs, but what he’s really saying is that if you invoke your constitutional rights, if you dare to hold government accountable, if you force them to make a criminal case against you, and it all falls apart, Rear Adm. Green will personally retaliate against you."
Although he won’t be allowed to defend Gallagher before the panel, Parlatore already has started collecting “trophy shots” of SEALs, including active duty commissioned officers, next to enemy bodies in Iraq and Afghanistan and compiling a potential list of those witnesses for Green to review.
In the meantime, Parlatore, a former surface warfare officer, continues to warn Navy leaders that they’re forcing a dangerous breach in traditional civil-military affairs by apparently punishing SEALs in defiance of the president’s direction.
On March 30, a tweeting Trump ordered the Pentagon to release Gallagher from pretrial confinement in San Diego’s Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar.
After Gallagher’s court-martial case collapsed, Trump tweeted congratulations to the SEAL, his wife Andrea, and his entire family.
On July 31, the president nixed Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals doled out to prosecutors in the case.
Then on Friday, he restored Gallagher to chief.
“President Trump absolutely could and probably should step back into the case, after intervening three or four times already,” said Parlatore. "I take this position as a former officer. If you correct a subordinate officer once, you expect him to change.
“The second time? OK, maybe you give him a second chance. But then you correct him a third time? At a certain point, you’ve demonstrated that you no longer can do the job and the only question left to be asked is how many second chances does the Navy get to get with the commander in chief on this?”
A complaint filed with the Pentagon urges federal watchdogs to probe allegations leveled against Naval Special Warfare's two-star.
Parlatore has filed a complaint on Gallagher’s behalf with the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General, citing the numerous violations of his client’s constitutional rights by the Navy over the past year.
The prosecution team was sanctioned before the court-martial trial began for their roles in a warrantless surveillance program cooked up with Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents to track emails sent by defense attorneys and Navy Times.
Officials also were accused of manipulating witness statements to NCIS agents; using immunity grants and a bogus “target letter” in a crude attempt to keep pro-Gallagher witnesses from testifying; illegally leaking documents to the media to taint the military jury pool; and then trying to cover it all up when they got caught.
The IG complaint also urges investigators to probe whether Green has uttered before his staffers contemptuous statements about the president.
On Tuesday, Green’s command pushed back on the allegations and the complaint doesn’t specify which — if any — words uttered by the rear admiral slurred his commander in chief.
Although Lt. Portier tried to resign his commission two months ago after his charges were dismissed, he’s been stuck in the Navy at taxpayer’s expense apparently so a review board can decide if he should be retained as a SEAL.
“Rear Adm. Green is attempting to steal the dignity from Lt. Portier, who honorably served in combat,” said the SEAL’s attorney, Jeremiah J. Sullivan III.
Green’s letter indicated that Portier’s service from his 2019 deployment to Iraq until the Navy dropped charges against him will be reviewed to determine if it was “unsatisfactory” or displayed a “gross lack of professional or personal judgment, lack of moral or ethical behavior, and/or conduct inconsistent with the SEAL ethos.”
The panel also will consider whether Portier “committed misconduct which discredits NSW, harms operational or information security, or otherwise adversely impacts team discipline” and renders him unfit for sea duty or combat.
Presiding over Portier’s fate will be three captains, Harry Hayes, Dorsey Wisotzki and Todd Freischlag.
Unlike Gallagher’s proceedings, Portier apparently won’t be allowed to call or cross-examine witnesses or appear before the board to make a personal appeal, according to Green’s letter.
Green will allow Portier to submit a letter of his own “to provide input” to the two-star through the chain of command by Dec. 13, but the board must make its recommendation to the rear admiral by Jan. 6.
Two highly decorated SEALs fire a blistering broadside at WARCOM.