Episode 23: ‘The Gallagher Effect’
Producers Jessica Dimmock and Zackary Canepari
Combat video, text messages and confidential interviews with members of the Navy SEALs obtained by The New York Times reveal chilling details about the conduct of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a bona fide badass with a chest full of medals.
Trained as a medic, sniper and explosives expert, Gallagher was the consummate leader of Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7, part of the Navy’s elite commando force. But when his own men said he committed war crimes, it sent shock waves up the chain of command — reaching all the way to the commander in chief.
Gallagher’s case continues to roil the Navy even after his acquittal on the most severe charges, and the public debate on Fox News and Twitter has widened the rift between President Trump and some top military leaders.
What exactly happened in Iraq in 2017 that so alarmed Gallagher’s brothers in arms? And why has the case resonated with Trump and his political base?
On this episode of “The Weekly,” members of SEAL Team 7 tell Navy investigators that Gallagher was a reckless leader with a disturbing hunger for violence. They say they spent much of their time protecting Iraqi civilians from their battle-crazed chief instead of going after ISIS. And never-before-released video from the SEALs’ deployment shows Gallagher kneeling beside a defenseless ISIS captive moments before Gallagher plunged his knife into the prisoner’s neck.
Dave Philipps is a national correspondent covering veterans and the military, and won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Since joining The Times in 2014, he has covered the military community from the ground up, focusing largely on the unintended consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How The Times Obtained Video of the SEALs’ Mission in Iraq
Thousands of pages of photos, transcripts and investigative reports, as well as videos from Iraq were used to report this episode of “The Weekly.” It features confidential Navy interviews with the SEALs, who had never spoken publicly outside Gallagher’s trial. One Navy source was particularly helpful, but gave Dave only a 24-hour window to obtain materials.
[The full episode will be available to Times subscribers in the U.S. on Monday, Feb. 3]
Where Are They Now?
Updates on some of the people in this episode of “The Weekly.”
Credit…John Gastaldo/ZUMA Wire
Edward Gallagher retired from the Navy with full honors on Nov. 30. He lives with his wife and family near the beach in Florida. The Navy recently returned items seized during the murder investigation, including a custom-made hatchet he took with him to Iraq.
Corey Scott, the SEAL medic who said he — not Gallagher — had killed the wounded ISIS captive, was medically retired from the Navy this fall for problems unrelated to the Gallagher investigation. He has reached out to other members of the platoon to talk. None have responded.
Pete Hegseth, a guest host on Fox & Friends on Fox News, continues to praise President Trump’s decision to intervene on Gallagher’s behalf. Hegseth has posted Twitter messages urging the president to pardon other service members convicted of war crimes.
After Gallagher’s acquittal for all but one relatively minor charge, his case set in motion a dispute between the Pentagon hierarchy committed to enforcing good order and discipline, and a president who has come to distrust the commanders running the military.
Senior Story Editors Dan Barry, Liz O. Baylen, and Liz Day
Director of Photography Boaz Freund
Video Editors David Herr and Pierre Takal
Associate Producers Brennan Cusack, Lora Moftah, and Valerie Schenkman
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