On July 2, SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher was acquitted of the murder of a wounded ISIS combatant who died while under his care in 2017. The case garnered national attention, to the point where President Trump implied that he might pardon Gallagher if he were convicted. Gallagher had been accused by multiple SEALs within his own platoon of committing the crime, after they had shared disturbing stories in a WhatsApp forum known as the Sewing Circle. (Gallagher himself had taken a photo of himself with the corpse and boasted in a text, “Got him with my hunting knife.” But this was taken as “dark humor” rather than a confession, in the way that Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” was taken as “locker room talk” and not an admission of guilt.) Ultimately, the lack of physical evidence, combined with the prosecution’s case that the story had been concocted by SEALs disgruntled with Gallagher’s command and the stunning courtroom confession from another SEAL that he had suffocated the ISIS combatant in a mercy killing, proved enough to create a reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind as to Gallagher’s guilt.
But now, it seems, they have reason to doubt their doubt. Immediately following the announcement of the Not Guilty verdict, Congressman Duncan Hunter took the opportunity to both express his support for Gallagher and his outrage at the way the case was handled. “The fact that this situation would happen to an American hero is nothing short of a disgrace for the entire military justice system,” wrote Hunter. “The Navy’s actions in this case are shameful, detrimental to good order, and adversely affects[sic] the morale of our warfighters. While this case is now closed, the Navy will still be held accountable for their actions in this matter.” He closed by inveighing against “a military justice system that is more focused on career advancement and sensational headlines as opposed to implementing and exercising the rule of law.”
Upon hearing this statement, several jurors have decided to open a petition to re-try Gallagher on the basis of what one of them calls Hunter’s “totally self-serving statement. He may as well put his own name in there instead of Gallagher’s. Everybody knows he’s under indictment for misuse of campaign funds, that he blamed his wife like a coward, that his wife flipped on him, and that it’s most likely because he was using those funds to finance affairs with lobbyists and staffers. Dude is guilty as sin, and if Gallagher’s willing to let a guy like that stand in his corner and bloviate, well… what else might he be willing to do?”