The Navy Times has published this strongly-worded opinion piece by Sean Gallagher, the brother of Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. It begins:

In this partisan environment, people were quick to judge President Donald J. Trump’s reinstatement of anchors to my brother, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher.

Out of the woodwork came former military attorneys, indignant Pentagon officials and your typical Washington establishment types.

Their views were mainly the same. The president’s actions were a moral hazard! What message will it send our troops? What of good order and discipline?

I have one question for these people: Where in the hell were you the past year and a half?

Sean Gallagher then excoriates the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for it’s mishandling of the case, Navy prosecutors for their prosecutorial misconduct (including spying on the defense), and Navy leadership for its lack thereof.

The piece includes a link to this 16-page complaint filed last week with the DoD Inspector General that makes seven specific complaints of “severe misconduct committed by the investigators, prosecutors, and the command before, during, and after the trial.”

Sean Gallagher concludes:

And don’t think for a second the bureaucracy ever admits it got everything wrong. Quite the opposite.

Instead of an apology to our family for the home raid, months of unjust imprisonment and enormous legal fees, the Navy actually rewarded the prosecutors who lost the case.

You heard me right. A team that spied, cheated, slandered and then lost a publicly humiliating case, received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Who, again, is ruining good order and discipline? You dare chide the commander in chief’s attempt to clean up this mess?

To any service member reading this: If it can happen to us, it can happen to you.

The message your brass and bureaucracy is sending you is clear. You are disposable. When it comes to their careers or their political motives, they’ll send you to war and then railroad you, drag you through the mud, and sing songs of sanctimony while you and your family hang.

22 Responses to “SOC Gallagher’s brother warns about moral hazards”

  1. Vulture says:

      Something that is missing in the complaint is that Capt. Meg Larrea had early change of command.  Given the early departure of the Sec Navy, it’s hard to conclude that she was not forced out in some way, no matter what is suggested by the PAO’s.  Somebody upstairs didn’t like the optics of the rewards and she was dumped.
      But nobody on this site would say they envy the position that her attorneys were in after the original TC were kicked off the case by the MJ.  Too much to do, to fast, too much damage.  This complaint’s moral outrage over tax payer dollars for Sharpe to present the award is contrived.
     I don’t agree with the opinion piece but not because of some moral outrage.  That would be hypocritical.  The problem is that the legal services are under review now by the Navy.  The efforts of that review will be drowned out, so to speak.  The losers here will be the sailors and marines that need a better justice system.  Essential to command is being “fair, firm, and consistent.” Do for one what you do for all, is kind of hyperbole.  But it is indicative of where MJ has to be made better.  This opportunity is being squandered.  

  2. Zachary D Spilman says:

    An early change of command.


    Pretty harsh.

  3. Vulture says:

    Good for you then Zach, maybe you DO envy the Government attorneys in Gallagher.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Man, Capt. Larrera might have to survive by retiring with O-6 retirement. Almost, but not quite, skid row. The Gallagher case is a great reminder to JAG’s and convening authorities that the military justice system’s final authority is civilians, not them. If you don’t like that rule of the game, suggest you find another game to play.

  5. Concerned Defender says:

    Standing ovation for the editorial.  Everyone involved from the Navy against Gallagher should be ashamed and punished.  This is not how we should treat our own warfighters.  Sadly, for every well-publicized Gallagher, there’s thousands of nameless faceless heroes being cast aside in a similar fashion. Thrown out like yesterdays’ trash for nonsense allegations or trivial “misconduct” by senior officers placing convenience and their own petty career interests ahead of justice.  I’ve met them, seen them operate, and had them as opposing counsel and they disgust me.  These Naval officers should be made as examples as to how NOT to operate using the UCMJ as a sword and hammer against our own.   
    I’d encourage the never-Trumper crowd to read and digest the article and reflect to hopefully learn a thing or two about the dirty behavior of so many senior officials behind the abuses of the UCMJ.

  6. Allan says:

    Mr. Gallagher says that the president was right to intervene in this matter (and, perhaps, the pardons of others accused of war crimes).  But he entirely misses the point.  Yes, his brother was screwed by the system, but the president’s actions did nothing at all to fix that part of it.  How does pardoning Gallagher address anything that happened wrongfully.  I guess the only thing is that, in the normal course of events, an E-8 would not have lost a stripe for taking a picture with a dead person.  But, most certainly, there would have been ramifications for doing so, including a board to determine whether he could stay in the Seals.
    Put bluntly:  The Navy screwed Gallagher, but no-one can fix what happened.  Who is going to give him back the months he spent in the brig?  Who is going to take away his children’s memories?  If the president’s pardon and other actions would have done so, then Mr. Gallagher would not be so mad. 
    What the president did was upend the authority of his chain of command by getting involved outside of the usual channels.  I am not surprised that the Secretary of the Navy resigned.  I don’t think he had a choice.  I am surprised that Admiral Green has not done so also.  One commentator mentioned that the pardon system used to be broken, because no-one could their case before the president–it is now broken because one can get their case before the president by getting a Kardashian or Fox News to trumpet their cause.  Neither is good.
    The command’s position is: “war crimes are bad”.  The president’s position is: “war crimes, who cares?”.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Was the charge that Gallagher was found guilty of charged as a war crime?

  8. Vulture says:

    Good job Anonymous.  Since civilians are not subject to the code, and they are the final authority of the UCMJ, there is no such thing as UCI.
    Any more protections to the Accused you want to do away with?

  9. Maga says:

    Can any lawyer on this site actually admit what has been going on within the UCMJ system for years now? Come on, those who will admit how out of control the government has gotten with UCI, bribery, unlawful search and seizure, pretrial punishment, perjury, and so on to get a conviction should admit this is an attempt to end it. Sadly when these unlawful acts happen government employees simply go on leave, get removed/reassigned and their actions are swept under the rug because the punishment is bestowed upon the TJAG! In this system those individuals never get held accountable with the BAR association because they are protected. All legal experts within the ucmj system know this however will never admit to how lopsided the system is. Why not be vocal about that which you come from? Why is it so hard to at least point out a few areas in the article that was right on the money? 

  10. Vulture says:

    For what it’s worth.  Some parts of the article are right on the money.

  11. Maga says:

    Thanks for responding do you mind going into the particulars? I’m not trying to egg anything on but this is a serious matter and respectful conversations are needed. Thanks

  12. Concerned Defender says:

    @ Allen,
    I disagree with the concept that this doesn’t do much.  This DOES do much.  Three cases, front page headline news.  EVERYONE in the JAG community and military leadership is plainly aware of this.  I doubt anyone wants to be in the cross hairs and will likely (if they have any sense whatsoever) tread lightly and re-assess nonsensical UCMJ actions going forward – at least in the short term.  I doubt anyone wants a call from the President telling them they are fired.  Or wants to watch years of hard work flushed when their pet project prosecution is reversed and the individual pardoned, and that prosecutor (team) made to look like the corrupt idiots they are.  That Navy prosecution team = unthinkable misconduct with the alleged Brady violations, lying, spying on opposing counsel, and/or other things alleged.  Read the 16 page complaint.  It’s unfathomable how these lawyers don’t lose their law licenses. 
    After-the-fact legal actions may not repair damage, but they send a serious chilling effect shot at all lawyers who are in positions of trust and power and these lawyers should be disbarred if these allegations are true.

  13. Maga says:

    Concerned Defender,
    Of course the issues he raised are real and it’s not the first time prosecutors have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Anyone who has been practicing law within the UCMJ system knows this has been going on for years. Most of the time the process that happens is affidavits are collected the case is set aside for some non constitutional reason that way everything can be handled behind closed doors. During pretrial actions it’s worse because everything is fair game because a judge hasn’t been assigned and the government gets to lie and drag their feet because no commander wants to risk their career. I truly hope the IG actually takes a look at all that happened and exposes those who have done wrong. The TJAG will never do anything, his/her oversight is just for public perception…. that there is a “eye in the sky.” Its refreshing to see a Commander in Chief who has some balls and isn’t afraid of this corrupt system. Notice that no one posts any case law about these issues because they dont want to waste their time because they know its bad.

  14. Vulture says:

    Making America great again is your job.
    I am just trying to keep us from getting sucked into the black hole of impertinence.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Did the SVC and/or MJ get punished in Vargas? What about the original STC in the Gallagher case? Until JAG’s are being held the same UCMJ that they’re also subject to, then I’m glad the POTUS did what he did. 

  16. stewie says:

    Yes, let’s just focus on Gallagher as if he’s the only guy who was pardoned.

  17. Maga says:

    To all the military families who have sacrificed so much if you are reading this thanks you! Hopefully at some point today we as Americans can put the political nonsense aside and thank God for brave men and women who defend our freedoms. God bless you and your family. 

  18. Miss says:

    One Seal says Gallagher stabbed the victim.  Then at trial, (post immunity) says Gallagher stabbed him, but he finished the victim off.  He says he never told the prosecutor because he wasn’t asked the specific question whether he killed the victim in between the victim being stabbed by Gallagher and the victim’s death.  
    The witnesses were influenced.  They guy got away with it.  As far as I am concerned, the TCs (and most navy prosecutors in general) just weren’t equipped to handle a mafia trial, which is what this was. The military justice system works, but, like most things under a microscope, doesn’t look good when heavily examined.  Civilian court processes would look as bad. 
    Bottom line, Gallagher’s brother should shut the hell up and just be happy his brother got away with it. 
    The TCs deserved their awards because they ate a big bowl of shi*t closing out the case.  Good on Larrea for giving them the award in the first place.  I hope she did it because she knew no one else would give them recognition for diving on the Gallagher sh*t grenade.  

  19. Adlaw Guy says:

    “Winning matters.”  -Army Chief is Staff
    Our system is so very fouled up.  The system exists to help commanders fight and win.  But you storied men and women tell me what behavior the system has ever put an end to or deterred in a measurable way?  Drugs?  Nope.  That’s uniform testing.  Drugs hollowed out our force and our 1968 reforms did nothing to make MJ effective enough to put a stop to it.  Until cheap pee tests were deployed, we were broken.  Sex assault?  It hasn’t been reduced.  It is not the fairness of our system that helps us win wars; it is the steadiness of our discipline.  Our system does not need to be more considerate of the individual; it needs to be more concerned with helping the commanders root out and suppress immoral and dissolute actions.  You want to win?  Give the commanders fewer UCI restrictions and let them tell the troops what will not be tolerated and then follow through with stern action.  Instead we get debates on fairness, or I have to listen to mindless defense of a system that does not actually produce results.  A system so bad at instilling discipline that senior leaders like ole Spence think the system makes us winners just because it’s fair.  Folks that makes no sense.  No sailor or airman or Soldier fights his heart out because of the comfort given by the great wording of the RCMs.  Lots of Soldiers don’t even know the system is manned by licensed attorneys.   Something that historically has made men fight to the death is the belief in their commander.  Maybe doing something different to give the troops the impression that the commander is with them is not such a crazy thing to do.  

  20. slyjackalope says:

    The President did the right thing here.  Gallagher never should have been put through this.  There should be multiple state bars investigating the conduct of the Government attorneys in this case.

  21. stewie says:

    well, we see why you are Adlaw Guy, not Crimlaw Guy.

  22. K fischer says:

    To piggyback off the ‘where were you for the past year and a half’ line, I found it interesting that the SecNav was fired after communicating with the CINC reportedly to influence him into backing off with the promise that Gallagher would keep his Trident after ‘the hearing.’  The way I read that was that the SecNav was going to have a show hearing to appease someone, but in the end, Gallagher would be able to keep his Trident.
     How many sex assault trials have occurred over the past 10 years to appease our Senators with the hope that the panel would do the right thing and acquit the accused?   I am completely in support of any person getting fired who advocates having a trial for any reason other than the accused is guilty. Making sure the victim whose story completely lacks credibility has her day in Court, or fear that Gillibrand is going to change the UCMJ, or worrying about what CNN would say are poor reasons to prefer charges when all the evidence points to an allegation being fabricated.  And any military attorney who recommends referral for these reasons when they believe more likely than not that the charges are not true for one of these reasons is nothing but a coward.  And, SecNav going to the CINC and asking him to back off so he could have a show hearing is congruent with a coward’s mindset.  
    The past year and a half?  Heck, where were the firings for the past ten years?