Navy SEALs are seen in leaked videos obtained by The New York Times calling Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher “toxic” and “freaking evil.”
The footage, which is part of a documentary episode in an episode of The Times’ “The Weekly,” was available for streaming on Hulu last week and aired on FX on Sunday.
Videotaped interviews show Navy SEALs discussing allegations that Gallagher stabbed a wounded Islamic State combatant, an incident which led to murder charges against the decorated SEAL team platoon leader.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ivan Villanueva told criminal investigators he “saw it happen,” referencing the alleged stabbing.
“The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator First Class Craig Miller said about Gallagher.
Special Operator First Class Corey Scott said Gallagher was “perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.”
In a statement last week, Gallagher dismissed his fellow SEALs’ accusations as “blatant lies.”
“My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me, but I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment,” he said. “Soon after I got to the brig at Miramar, one of these guys came to visit me and apologize for what they did but that they had to stick with the fake stories or be charged with making false statements.”
Tim Parlatore, Gallagher’s attorney, said last week that the videotaped interrogations gave him a “road map to acquittal.”
“You’re never going to understand these interviews without a trained criminal investigator looking at it,” Parlatore told the San Diego Union Tribune.
“No question, these videos demonstrate all of the failings of the investigation,” Parlatore added. “They were fantastic — very rarely in a case do you have something as great as these videos to help you prepare.”
Parlatore also cited courtroom testimony from the prosecution’s own witnesses as damaging to the case against Gallagher.
Corey Scott, a petty officer 1st class, is seen in the video telling investigators during a preliminary interview that Gallagher stabbed the wounded ISIS fighter multiple times.
At trial, however, Scott stunned prosecutors by claiming he’d committed a mercy killing on the wounded combatant and said Gallagher only stabbed him once.
Gallagher, a decorated SEAL team platoon leader, was accused of committing various war crimes while deployed in Iraq in 2017.
In July, a military jury acquitted him of murdering a captured Islamic State fighter by stabbing the wounded prisoner in the neck, but it convicted him of illegally posing with the detainee’s corpse. That had led to his rank being reduced.
President Donald Trump restored Gallagher’s rank and pay in November, and pardoned two Army officers who were separately accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
“For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history,” the White House said in a statement at the time.