The SEALs’ descriptions portray a fighter unhinged from the military’s mission of defending the nation and dedicated instead to his own desire to spill blood. Chief Gallagher, SEALs said, purposely exposed his soldiers to enemy fire and thought casualties in his platoon could win him a Silver Star. They said he bragged that “burqas were flying” when he shot at women and boasted after an operation that he had killed four of them — with the excuse that he had fired warning shots first. Other members of the platoon, they said, began to spend their days trying to “save civilians from Eddie.”
The SEALs called Chief Gallagher a “psychopath.” He was “toxic.” He was “literally the worst of the worst.” His priority for the tour? “War stories at the end.” His motivation? “To kill anybody he can.”
These men broke the customary code of silence maintained by the SEALs because they thought Chief Gallagher’s behavior violated something more sacred: the duty of the men and women who fight for the United States to fight for it honorably. It’s this sacred duty that the president ridicules by allowing “Fox & Friends” and other right-wing media to lobby him into excusing — even rewarding — ethical lapses. What does this say to any soldier who wants to speak up about wrongdoing? Those who tried to hold Chief Gallagher to account are suffering insults on national television, while the petty officer, now retired with full honors, is palling around with the president at Mar-a-Lago.
The story is of a commander in chief who has shown little respect for the chain of command, and little regard for the imperative of military professionalism and virtue. But it’s also the story of individual service members who knew better — and did better. “Let’s not forget there are 7-12 of us in here who had the balls to tell the truth about what Eddie has done,” one of the whistleblower SEALs texted his compatriots. The rest of the country shouldn’t forget, either.