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Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher is a highly decorated combat veteran, who made the mistake of posing for a photograph with a dead ISIS combatant.

It was a breach of etiquette, to be sure. And it was not good optics for a Navy SEAL to have done such a thing.

But it is a minor charge, the only thing a military tribunal was able to convict him of amidst a complicated trial that was marred by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct and a witness who changed his story on the stand.

Despite the relatively minor charge, some in the Navy wanted to remove Gallagher from the SEALs, stripping him of his Trident pin, a serious consequence.

Throughout the trial and the debate over Gallagher’s future, one of his strongest supporters has been President Donald Trump, who had, tweeted: “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

I agree with the president on this one.

It seems fair to argue that Gallagher might’ve had a prickly personality and wasn’t the best example of military excellence.

What doesn’t seem fair is trying to railroad him out of a career as a punitive reaction to the acquittal on more serious charges. But that is exactly what the Navy brass, under the leadership of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, tried to do.

After the mixed decision was handed down by the tribunal in July, the Navy pursued an internal inquiry to decide whether Gallagher should be demoted and stripped of the trident pin, essentially kicking him out of the SEALs.

The Navy suspended its internal inquiry, but Secretary Spencer was reportedly angry that Trump had intervened in a personnel decision by overruling Gallagher’s demotion and demanding he keep the Trident pin.

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He tried to engage in some back-channel moves without notifying Defense Secretary Mike Esper, and was fired. On his way out, Spencer criticized Trump with a parting shot:

“(I don’t think the president) really understands the full definition of a warfighter. A warfighter is a profession of arms and a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to, and they hold themselves to.”

I am not an expert on military justice or the code. But as a lay person who is the daughter of a Cold War veteran, the niece of a Marine, the great-niece of a man who parachuted onto the beaches of Normandy and the cousin of combat veterans in Vietnam, I know what honor looks like.

It is not “perfection.” It is not stoicism. It is not the almost inhuman ability to suppress our natural emotions in the face of brutality.

Honor is what Gallagher showed by being on the front lines in a war that had taken the lives of friends and comrades, men killed by adherents of that sick ideology embraced by the dead ISIS fighter.

To worry about the optics and flawed etiquette of posing for the cameras with a vanquished enemy is outrageous, and the Navy leaders who pushed for Gallagher’s demotion and expulsion from the SEALs were not defending the reputation of the service. They were bowing to PC priorities.

This was not Abu Ghraib. This was a photo of a dead ISIS combatant and the men who were glad he couldn’t hurt any more of their brothers.

There will be those who will defend the Navy’s right to clean its own house simply because they hate the president so much. There are others who would defend the Navy regardless of who was in the White House. Both are wrong.

Eddie Gallagher, who has announced his retirement, never should have been convicted of posing for an offensive photo.

The president was right to stand up for him. The shame is that the Navy didn’t.

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Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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(11) comments

Hive

Bet this "hero" beats her too.

Hive

In short, we is what we does and we get what we deserve...and we gittin it! Duh!

jdinfinity

Exactly man...

One always wants to believe in some optimistic sense that we can do better for our world, and treat each other with respect and dignity.

But that aint the way of things son.

Idiot dingers like Dump will always persist in some sense or any sense within this world and existence.

That self-entitled demeanor, with a message of,

'I'm the greatest. I can do wrong. It doesn't matter whom I hurt because I don't have to be responsible for my actions nor apologize for them.'

And then, our children learn that message, because half the population are the idiots that voted for that guy. In one sense, that's scary scary stuff. But in reality, collectively, regardless of party? That's just who we embodied in some sense. Big, spoiled brat, children.

Dump is the dystopian reality of the people and country that we embody today.

Full of ourselves.

And in this case, the precedent is seemingly made even more dangerous, by letting a person that committed war crimes, human rights violations and atrocities go free.

That is utterly despicable...juz like our prez, juz like us for putting him there to pardon murdering criminals...

Hive

We all did some bad; but how many did what this dude did...and what about what was never reported?

I figure DT read some summary whilst chowing fast food.

No one should second-guess a military Courts Marshal verdict when it comes to a long-time in grade, high ranked officer, com or non-com.

Stupid politics, besides. We elected a dinger and deserve the governance we got..the party ain't over either.

Yep!

America needs a few good men...

Who would try to deal with liars but more liars and scabs?

We teach our young...

Amen.

Hive

Martin, +1 again. Just about everything touched by politicians ends up being used, politicized and "weaponized." But that appears to be the same with PC-ness generally. The proceeds of polarity.

martin

It will be hard to limit it to a few words, but I'll try. It is SAD to see what has happened because of people "using" the Military in politics now days. "Where is his flag pin". is a good one. And, it is not military, it's "HEROES". If you say something bad, you get "love it or leave it". I think it is called "blind patriotism" Guys that have been "in" know that "they do not walk on water" as some people think. Getting together with a "old" shipmate from long long ago, I remember he said, "I did a few things back then that I am not very proud of" .

Hive

Martin, pardon my characterization. I did not mean to add myself to a cadre that agrees with me, which is redundant, but I loved your "word play" and agree with it.

Everyday our bozo leader makes me shudder for us all. Am waiting for someone to hive this dinger a public slap, hoping it will not tarnish America's intent and so on!

Hive

Martin +1.

killallthelawyersfirst

While some miscarriages of justice happen, I must agree with Mr. Hive. A number of questions here. Did POTUS read the trial transcripts and review the evidence? Did POTUS undermine the military's legal process and also undermine his own legal code and command and control authority, as is too often the case with banana republics, which is what POTUS prefer. POTUS forgets his politics undermines America as well and smacks of de Medici fascism, which also implies America's election jeopardy rides the back of a looming Russian bear, thanks to this POTUS.

martin

Hive +1. This man was a "Seal", that's special.

Hive

I must disagree. This man was convicted by a military court and no one has a right to undermine our legally-minded military authority. This is a sleazy political move which reminds me of the absurd politics that followed the end of the global conflict called WWII, which caused Eisenhower much anguish. Typical Trump bullying.

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