From the Times - If true would be interesting to know whether he always had it in him or whether being in war zones turned his mind.
To his accusers he is a war criminal with a monstrous disregard for human life who was protected by a misguided warrior culture of loyalty at all costs. To his supporters he is a hero whose record as a highly decorated Navy Seal leader has been disgracefully maligned. One way or another, the court martial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a platoon commander, next month is primed to become a watershed moment for the most elite commando force in the US military. Mr Gallagher, 39, has been charged by the navy with murder, attempted murder and almost a dozen other offences, including obstruction of justice and bringing “discredit upon the armed forces”.
According to Seals who served under him in Iraq in 2017 he casually stabbed a captive teenager to death with a customised hunting knife and then arranged a group photograph by the corpse. He shot an unarmed old man and a girl from his sniper’s nest and routinely unleashed rocket and heavy machinegun fire on neighbourhoods without cause. The seven commandos who first reported that they had seen him carry out such crimes were warned by their superiors not to pursue the matter, according to a confidential navy criminal investigation. They were told that the fallout could derail their careers, The New York Times reported, citing the 439-page report prepared by the navy in advance of his military trial. Mr Gallagher was arrested in September. He denies all the charges but could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
His case has become a cause célèbre in conservative circles: a fundraising website claims to have received $375,000; a veterans’ group is selling “Free Eddie” T-shirts; and his wife and brother have appeared on right-wing news outlets to demand his release.
He was freed this month from the naval brig where he had been held, after pressure from Republicans in Congress and the intervention of President Trump, and is now confined in the Navy Medical Centre in San Diego. Mr Gallagher, known as “Blade”, is a veteran of five Seal deployments and has been decorated many times for bravery and leadership under fire. A qualified medic, top-class sniper and explosives expert, he has instructed hundreds of Seals at BUDs, the force’s fearsome training programme. Platoon members told investigators that they were initially excited to be deployed under such a “legend” to help Iraqi forces to retake Mosul from Isis in February 2017. That changed quickly for some of them when he began to take what they saw as unnecessary risks with their safety and began boasting about the number of people that he killed from his sniper’s nest.
On March 4, 2017 a wounded Islamic State fighter was brought in. Other Seals estimated that he was about 15 and medics said that his injuries did not appear life-threatening. Mr Gallagher allegedly walked up and without a word, stabbed him several times in the neck and once in the chest. Platoon members reported the killing to Mr Gallagher’s immediate superior that day. Lieutenant Jacob Portier has since been charged with failing to report possible crimes and with destroying evidence. He has also pleaded not guilty. In March last year two other officers, Lieutenant-Commander Robert Breisch and Master Chief Petty Officer Brian Alazzawi, allegedly warned the men against taking their claims further. Learning of that meeting, Mr Gallagher allegedly texted to another chief: “I just got word these guys went crying to the wrong person.”
His trial begins on May 28.