San Diego/Washington D.C. (27/11). U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Friday a Navy SEAL convicted of battlefield misconduct should face a board of peers weighing whether to oust him from the elite force, despite President Donald Trump’s assertion that the Navy SEAL is not be expelled. Shortly after his public comments Spencer was unceremoniously fired.
“I believe the process matters for good order and discipline,” Spencer told Reuters, weighing in on a confrontation between Trump and senior Navy officials over the outcome of a high-profile war-crimes case.
In a stinging op-ed rebuttal by the brother of the falsely accused Chief Gallagher the practices by NCIS, despite the clean TV image, shows an out of control, dragging his young son half-naked out of the house of Chief Gallagher, in what appears a biased investigators, inept prosecutors, and an unlawful command influence.
“NCIS laid siege to the house in the morning hours ― weapons drawn — and inexplicably traumatized Chief Gallagher’s young sons by pulling them out of the house at gunpoint in their underwear.”
Unfortunately the good order political appointee failed to recognize the chain of command. He went behind the back of the Secretary of Defense which besides cost overruns was his undoing. And no, telling the Chief of Staff of the Secretary of Defense does not count.
Many U.S. politicians forget president Trump is a business CEO. If anyone ever served in a corporate boardroom should know how brutal U.S. and New Yorker CEOs are. Trump’s tolerance for contravening command is as short as a Kentucky minute. Many argue the political interference hurts the community.
As professional as they are,” he said of the Navy review board members, who were all SEALs, “no matter what they would decide, they would be criticized from many sides, which would further drag this issue on, dividing the institution. I want the SEALs and the Navy to move beyond this now, fully focused on their warfighting mission.”
A military jury in July convicted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of illegally posing for pictures with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter but acquitted him of murder in the detainee’s death. After the government’s own witness admitted that it was he, not Eddie, that ended his life.
Ultimately, the court found him guilty of only one minor specification, that he posed for a photo next to an enemy corpse.
Capt. Aaron Rugh ruled that conducting a re-enlistment ceremony alongside a corpse or flying a drone over the corpse – two accusations made against Gallagher – does not meet the criteria of a war crime as defined in Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), according to a Navy Times report.
But what is missing in the skewed reporting is that everyone stood around the dead fighter. So why is the Navy brass gunning for Chief Gallagher?
Gallagher also was cleared of charges that he deliberately fired on unarmed civilians. It turned out the accusers were lying and everyone had eggs on their face.
Some SEALs wanted to derail Gallagher’s advancement to senior chief. Gallagher’s SEAL Team 7 superiors in California junked the Silver Star application and he wasn’t going to make senior chief before his planned retirement after 20 years of service.
On Aug. 23, 2018, less than three weeks before NCIS agents arrested him, the CIA gave Gallagher a polygraph test for a job screening. During the session, Gallagher was asked if he’d committed any war crimes.
“SOC Gallagher denied any wrongdoing and passed the polygraph,” the motion states. “Although the Government administered this polygraph, and discovery materials demonstrate that NCIS investigators reviewed his communications to schedule the polygraph, the prosecution has failed to disclose, or even acknowledge the existence of this significantly exculpatory test.”
“Rather than conduct a proper investigation in search of the truth, (the agent) began with a predetermined conclusion and went about finding evidence to support that conclusion, while ignoring or suppressing anything that conflicted with that narrative,” the defense lawyer for Gallagher wrote in his filing.
And the lead investigator on the case, NCIS Special Agent Joe Warpinski, was in the defense legal crosshairs.
Warpinski is accused of working “to ensure that witness interviews were documented in a manner that would minimize anything that did not support his predetermined conclusions,” according to the motion.
Although spared a prison sentence, he was demoted in rank and pay grade for his conviction, which stemmed from a 2017 deployment in Iraq.
Last Friday, Trump intervened in the case, ordering the Navy to restore Gallagher’s rank and pay and clearing the way for him to retire on a full pension.
But Navy brass notified Gallagher, 40, on Tuesday that a five-member panel of fellow Navy commandos would convene on Dec. 2 to review his case and recommend whether the decorated platoon leader is fit to remain in the SEALs. Many in the ranks feel the brass were gunning for Gallagher at all costs.
After all the prosecutor was breaking the law by using a trojan type of software to read the defense lawyers emails. After the accusers and the claims unravelled the president just had enough and basically told the brass to zip it.
Seemingly the brass has forgotten that the praetorian report to the civilian oversight. Like him or not but president Trump has a point. The United States Navy brass needed reminding who is in command. And it is for sure not the Admirals or the former Secretary of the Navy. A political appointee.
A decision as to whether Gallagher is ejected from the SEALs, stripping him of his special warfare Trident Pin, ultimately rests with the Navy’s personnel command in Washington. But Trump’s word is on the line. Challenging Trump, notoriously short-tempered, was a corporate boo-boo.
Gallagher would retain his rank but be assigned to other duty, though his lawyer has said he is eligible to retire soon.
On Thursday, Trump lashed out at the proceedings, declaring on Twitter: “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”.
The president has a point. Cost overruns, outdated technology, drug use, the “Fat Leonard” scandal, in itself a head-shaking experience involving mostly senior ranking officers, and questions about combat readiness are issues to focus on.
It raises the question why has the brass the sights set on one men? Is it class division, or perhaps that the SEAL community challenged the fleet command who often hold the special warfare community in contempt.
What has been Pres. Trump’s attitude?
Pres. Trump, like many conservatives, defended Gallagher because of his war record. The same phenomenon has arisen in other high profile war crime cases. Families and comrades understandably support those accused of crimes. Conservatives often regarded with suspicion some of the restrictions on military activity, feeling that military personnel may be endangered by “politically correct” restrictions or may be prosecuted for political reasons.
The now former secretary of the Navy responded with a statement saying it would follow “lawful orders” from the president to halt the review but was awaiting further guidance, suggesting his Twitter post was not considered a formal directive.
Asked whether he believed the proceedings against Gallagher should continue, Spencer, in an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, said, “Yes, I do.”
“I think we have a process in place, which we’re going forward with, and that’s my job,” he added.
Reached hours later by telephone, Gallagher’s civilian defense lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said he was “stunned” by what he called “open defiance of the commander-in-chief by a service secretary, on foreign soil, of all places.”
Critics have said Trump’s grants of clemency last week to Gallagher, and to two Army officers separately accused of war crimes in Afghanistan, undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities will be tolerated.
Parlatore said Spencer was running roughshod over the chain of command.
“What he’s saying is that, for the sake of good order and discipline, we must disobey the president,” Parlatore, himself a naval officer before becoming a lawyer, told Reuters by telephone.
He said Trump now had no choice but to fire both Spencer and the commander of Naval Special Warfare, Rear Admiral Collin Green, who ordered the trident review hearings for Gallagher, as well as for three immediate superiors in his SEAL team.
Asked if Gallagher planned to appear next month for his own review hearing, which he is not required to attend, Parlatore replied, “Let’s see if Green and the Navy secretary are even still around tomorrow.”
Parlatore formally contested the Navy’s move to oust his client in a complaint filed on Monday with the Defense Department’s inspector general, accusing Green of insubordination.
He said he would file a similar complaint against Spencer over the weekend.
Spencer acknowledged that Trump has the power to restore Gallagher’s SEAL status if Navy commanders decide to expel him, saying, “The commander in chief is the commander in chief … and he can do what he wants.”
The Navy scandal of Fat Leonard illustrated the deep inefficiency in command decision, and corruption scandals involving a large number of senior and flag officers. The scandal shows the safeguards established within the Navy are not working. Period.
An overhaul of the contracting services, is needed. “We can pay for paint and salaries”, said one officer.
It also shows the need to bring rogue U.S. Navy SEALs under control. In fairness the U.S. Navy special operators had its fair share of drug abuse, a murder of a Green Beret comrade in arms and all sort of scandals which needs sorting out.
Although Gallagher’s case showed a break down of command within his team, the case is serves as an example of combat blurs the line of what is perceived as right and what is wrong. The political questions of posing with a dead fighter is essentially a question of political correctness by the leftist leaning media. War is brutal, War is hell.
It blurs the moral compass, no doubt about it. But, its is time for the U.S. Navy to clean house. President Trump, hate or love him, has a point right. Get back to Business.