In this partisan environment, people were quick to judge President Donald J. Trump’s reinstatement of anchors to my brother, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher.
Out of the woodwork came former military attorneys, indignant Pentagon officials and your typical Washington establishment types.
Their views were mainly the same. The president’s actions were a moral hazard! What message will it send our troops? What of good order and discipline?
I have one question for these people: Where in the hell were you the past year and a half?
Eddie’s case and court-martial trial revealed a massive cancer within the military justice system, doing irreparable damage to troop morale that may last decades.
I didn’t hear a damn thing from these harbingers of moral decency when that was exposed.
Where was their outrage when the Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents dragged my brother’s kids in the street at gunpoint in their underwear? (A fact NCIS denied to this very publication until under oath admitted that, yes, they did drag my nephews nearly naked into the streets of San Diego when Ed wasn’t home).
Where were these critics when investigators admitted Eddie’s entire pretrial imprisonment was based on a lie, forcing him to spend eight months in a sex offender brig for nothing?
Thanksgiving is nearing, so please imagine having to spend it like Ed did last year, greeting your kids in jail where they had to wear robes so they didn’t arouse other inmates.
Where were these guardians of moral decency when prosecutors spied on our attorneys?
When they hid exculpatory evidence?
Illegally leaked slanted information to the media to taint a jury pool?
Lied to members of Congress and then tried to cover it all up when they got caught?
They were nowhere, because their outrage is hollow and they don’t have clue what they’re talking about.
The moral hazard is a system that sends troops to war and then sacrifices them to some perverse political agenda when they return home. This is what the president is trying to fix.
I wish the world saw Eddie’s trial. I wish people could sit in the gallery and witness as we did the accusations crumble, Ed’s accusers exposed for their deceit, and how broken the process really is.
Day after day revealed biased investigators, inept prosecutors, unlawful command influence — the list goes on and on.
To see the full list, we filed a 16-page Inspector General complaint here.
For nearly two years, the Navy peddled lies to news outlets that Eddie had shot a little girl and stabbed to death a dying ISIS fighter.
But during the trial, it turns out those accusing him weren’t even in Eddie’s sniper hide. Those that were with him daily — Ed’s spotter and signals intelligence operator — testified every single one of his shots was legit and that it likely was actually Islamic State, not Ed, that shot the girl.
As for the dying ISIS fighter, the government’s own witness admitted that it was he, not Eddie, that ended his life.
And it wasn’t out of malice, but rather out of mercy so Iraqi security forces didn’t rape, torture and kill him anyway as he’d seen them to do before.
For two years, Navy lawyers publicly painted Ed as a villain, blaming him for the death of an Iraqi girl when it was actually the enemy he was sent there to fight. And then their own witness, for all the right reasons, copped to the killing they pinned squarely on Ed.
Preach to me again the dangers of moral hazards?
At the conclusion of Eddie’s trial, the one, irrefutable fact was that it never should have happened.
A true investigation by unbiased investigators would have quashed it before it began. It came as a surprise to most everyone that it was actually Eddie who requested the investigation. His officer in charge testified that, tired of rumors fueled by disgruntled subordinates, Eddie requested an investigation so he could clear his name and get back to work.
If people had stopped to listen, to think, put their agendas and political pressure aside, the Navy would have been spared this saga and the reputation of a good and decent man would remain unblemished.
But here we are, with Ed’s face plastered all over the news, everyone claiming to know who he is without having the first damn clue. No mentions of his awards, of the friends he’s had to bury, of the sacrifices a family goes through during two decades of service and eight combat deployments.
He’s a means to an end for the machine, so who cares what he’s done or what he’s given? It’s pathetic.
And don’t think for a second the bureaucracy ever admits it got everything wrong. Quite the opposite.
Instead of an apology to our family for the home raid, months of unjust imprisonment and enormous legal fees, the Navy actually rewarded the prosecutors who lost the case.
You heard me right. A team that spied, cheated, slandered and then lost a publicly humiliating case, received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
Who, again, is ruining good order and discipline? You dare chide the commander in chief’s attempt to clean up this mess?
To any service member reading this: If it can happen to us, it can happen to you.
The message your brass and bureaucracy is sending you is clear. You are disposable. When it comes to their careers or their political motives, they’ll send you to war and then railroad you, drag you through the mud, and sing songs of sanctimony while you and your family hang.
Our family’s message to you is this.
That flag on your uniform, and the Constitution you swear to protect, also protects you. No one, not even members of your own military, can deny you your rights, especially the right to due process and a jury of your peers.
It is the only thing that saved my brother from a lifetime of unjust imprisonment.
It also guarantees civilian control of the military. So while the brass rails about moral hazards and pontificates about good order, the Gallagher family will continue to cast our ballots for those who actually support our warfighters and not some other agenda.
President Trump was right to intervene on Eddie’s case, and that should terrify every person wearing a uniform.
The Pentagon has asked the White House to consider Kenneth Braithwaite, the current U.S. ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy rear admiral, as the next Secretary of the Navy.
Sean Gallagher is the brother of Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher, who is expected to retire with his trident SEAL qualification pin. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent those of Navy Times or its staffers.