Critics slam a 60 Minutes segment featuring Edward Gallagher, who was charged and acquitted of war crimes in Iraq.
A report by the CBS news programme 60 Minutes on Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who had been accused of war crimes while serving with the SEAL force in Iraq in 2017, has prompted a backlash on social media, with some claiming the segment “laundered” Gallagher’s reputation.
Navy prosecutors had accused Gallagher of stabbing to death a wounded captive fighter of ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq in 2017, attempting to murder civilians that he randomly fired at from a sniper nest and obstruction of justice.
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The case took a turn when a key witness and a fellow SEAL testified that he, not Gallagher, had killed the captive, while nevertheless standing by his and other soldiers’ claim that Gallagher had plunged a knife into the teenage fighter’s neck.
A jury acquitted Gallagher, who had the public support of President Donald Trump, of the most serious charges, while finding him guilty on the lesser charge of posing for a group photo with the body of the dead fighter.
He also suggested that the decision by members of his platoon to come forward with the alleged crimes had been “sparked” by his tough leadership, echoing earlier claims that the allegations against him had been constructed by six disgruntled subordinates who could not meet his standards.
Critics, however, further accused the 60 Minutes report of doing a disservice to the SEALs who had spoken out against Gallagher, coming forward to detail accusations that included randomly shooting an Iraqi civilian girl and an elderly man from a sniper’s nest and spraying rocket and machine-gun fire indiscriminately into neighbourhoods.
In investigative interviews leaked to the New York Times after the trial, members of Gallagher’s SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon described him as “evil”, “toxic” and “personally okay with killing anybody that was moving”.
A spokesman for 60 Minutes did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
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