On Wednesday we looked at the trial of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, charged with war crimes in the death of an ISIS militant in Iraq in 2017. Chief Gallagher was found not guilty of the most serious crimes, including murder, but was convicted of posing with the corpse of the militant for a picture. When the time came for sentencing, it went mostly as anticipated, with a couple of exceptions. (Fox News)
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will have his rank reduced and is sentenced to four months of confinement, which he has already served, for posing with the body of a dead Islamic State fighter, the San Diego jury decided Wednesday.
Gallagher’s attorney confirmed to Fox News that he will retire from the U.S. Navy when he becomes eligible in about three weeks as he hits his 20 years of service.
The SEAL was found not guilty Tuesday on six of the most serious counts he was facing, including premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice and the attempted murders of two noncombatants.
In a way, they kind of threw the book at Gallagher, giving him nearly the most they could on this specific charge. His attorneys are appealing the sentence, so we won’t know the official outcome until he’s already retired. (Gallagher will be eligible for retirement when he reaches the twenty-year mark this summer, and he’s already said he plans to submit his papers .)
After some negotiating, Gallagher will have his rank reduced from Chief Petty Officer (E-7) to Petty Officer First Class (E-6) and have his pay reduced for two months. He was further sentenced to four months in the brig, but he’s already served quite a bit more than that so he’s free to return to duty.
That reduction in rank will add up to a big hit to his retirement income if they can’t manage to have that portion of his sentence reversed. But aside from that, I suppose this sentence can’t be seen as too harsh since he was convicted by a military jury. I understand the argument made by the defense, saying it was unfair to only punish Gallagher when nearly the entire platoon had posed for pictures with the corpse, but he was the one in charge so I guess that means more of the responsibility falls on his shoulders.
If we’re to take anything away from this bizarre trial, it’s that we can’t be too careful when we feel the temptation to rush to judgment, as David French observed yesterday. Gallagher had been tried and convicted in the media and the court of public opinion before he ever stepped foot in the courtroom. He was accused of randomly taking sniper shots at civilians, including a young child. And the stabbing of the injured ISIS fighter was portrayed as a war crime. But as the details unfolded, we learned that a very flawed picture had been presented.
Gallagher served his country for twenty years, admitted to making some mistakes and was held accountable for them. And now he gets to go home.