The Navy announced Tuesday that it will not pursue further action against former Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher for comments he made earlier this year on a podcast regarding medical treatment of an Islamic State detainee who later died in 2017.
“After a review conducted by the Navy, it was determined that Gallagher’s statements were not corroborated and no substantive information was found to merit an investigation based on those statements,” Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Courtney Hillson said in an email to Navy Times.
“Evidence against Gallagher related to medical treatment and the death of the detainee was already investigated and/or adjudicated at Gallagher’s court-martial,” she said. “Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and our Constitution, he cannot be prosecuted again for these alleged offenses.”
Gallagher was charged with murder in 2018 for the death of the militant.
He was eventually acquitted of fatally stabbing the 17-year-old following testimony from another SEAL team member, who testified that he had actually killed the injured fighter by blocking a breathing tube and asphyxiating him.
Gallagher was later convicted of posing for a photo next to the corpse of the teen. The jury’s recommended sentence of reducing Gallagher’s rank to E-6 was nullified after then-President Donald Trump intervened in the case, paving the way for Gallagher to retire as a chief and keep his SEAL trident.
Along the way, former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired by then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper for his handling of the controversial case.
The recent renewed scrutiny of Gallagher came after an episode of “The Line” podcast dropped last month.
In that episode, Gallagher said that the team’s intention “was to kill him,” and “to do medical scenarios on him until he died.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed last month that the Navy was looking into Gallagher’s latest utterances on the high-profile incident.
Timothy Parlatore, Gallagher’s civilian defense attorney in the court-martial, told Navy Times Tuesday that his client’s comments reflected what defense counsel and prosecutors have known for some time, “that the medical treatment that was provided was not expected to save (the militant’s) life.”
“Rather, it was done for the purpose of keeping the Iraqis away from him so they would not torture, dismember and execute him,” said Parlatore, who added that the Navy’s decision not to conduct further investigation was “unsurprising,” as it would have raised questions about the truthfulness of witness testimony at Gallagher’s trial “and would only further show the incompetence of (the Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and JAG prosecutors.”
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.