Two proffers, submitted in connection to two US Navy SEAL war crime cases, revealed some shocking details, according to a Navy Times report.
As per the outlet: “Proffers are legal documents that outline what potential witnesses will say on the stand in a court-martial trial in exchange for immunity from prosecution for crimes they also might’ve committed.”
The first case is against Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward “Eddie” Gallagher. He allegedly stabbed to death a teenage wounded Islamic State prisoner of war during a 2017 deployment to Iraq, according to a subordinate officer of his. He also allegedly called in “false target coordinates to engage a mosque,” tried to involve his platoon into “pointless and potentially catastrophic” engagements with militants and “became so mentally unstable that he should’ve been relieved from duty but wasn’t.”
Gallagher is charged with killing the Islamic State detainee on May 3, 2017, shooting at innocent civilians with his sniper rifle at other times and later attempting to coerce potential witnesses to conceal his alleged war crimes.
His commanding officer at SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon, Jacob X. “Jake” Portier is also being charged for allegedly trying to conceal his subordinate chief’s crimes.
The Navy Times obtained the February 13th proffer and a previous one from January 17th. They contain new allegations against Gallagher and Portier, but they also question the willingness of several of their superiors to probe the war crime accusations.
The outlet also obtained copies of federal search warrants, which show that investigators have been tracing electronic communications across the SEAL community and seized the cellphones of those involved in the cases.
“The twin proffers and search warrants are the clearest indications yet that there are active probes into senior enlisted and commissioned SEALs, a potentially damning indictment of the culture of the usually tight-knit community of clandestine commandos.”
Naturally, the names of the witnesses are not included in the report, since they are likely to return to active duty.
The outlet sought a comment for the duration of two days from California-based Naval Special Warfare Command and Navy Region Southwest. The results were declines for comment or a complete lack of a response.
In the February 13th proffer request, a lieutenant who Alpha Platoon’s Assistant Officer in Charge (AOIC) indicated he’s prepared to deliver some of the most damaging testimony to both Gallagher and Portier.
The document was written by Michael Hanzel, a former Navy attorney now in private practice specializing in military cases, “the lieutenant’s proffer indicates he believes senior leaders failed to take action against Gallagher because of their close links to the chief.”
In his proffer, the AOIC stated he “felt chilled in talking to his chain of command at the team” about Gallagher and Portier because problems he “raised were either heard and not acted upon or completely disregarded.”
It was the AOIC’s first combat tour as a SEAL and “although he invested a lot of faith and trust in his leadership to guide him and do the right thing, ultimately the message he got back was that no one wanted to hear what he had to say or heard it and tried to contain the information from being released.”
The AOIC will most likely receive a blanket immunity from any future prosecution, but according to Hanzel he’d come forward “because he’s trying to do the right thing.”
“He’s a SEAL for the right reasons and he wants to remain a SEAL,” said Hanzel. “He never expected to get caught up in this and he fears retaliation if he tells the truth.”
Gallagher’s civilian attorney, Phillip Stackhouse said that the AOIC’s testimony could be dissipated if he lies under oath.
“If he lies during a proffer session, he could be prosecuted for it,” said Stackhouse. “The statement he makes also can be used to impeach him.”
Stackhouse continues to insist his investigation will show that Gallagher committed no crime and a panel of the SEAL’s peers will agree with him.
Initially, the AOIC was concerned that Gallagher was making poor judgments. Making questionable decisions and wanting to train the SEALs by fire.
The AOIC told prosecutors he had come to believe Gallagher was “going to put the platoon in extreme danger” and an unassertive Portier would do too little to stop him.
The AOIC said that he is willing to testify about a raid Gallagher proposed in July 2017 that involved “shooting people under the bridge.”
The AOIC “stressed that this was putting their platoon in an extremely vulnerable position for a mission that was not even authorized,” an argument that ended not only the conversation but the proposed raid.
After the recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces, the AOIC remembered a conversation he had with the lead petty officer in the platoon and Gallagher about why they joined the Navy. The SO1 and the AOIC both said they became soldiers because of “loving their country and trying to live by the SEAL ethos.”
But Gallagher allegedly “said that he didn’t believe in any of that, and that he joined the military so he could get the chance to kill someone.”
In the conclusion of his proffer, the AOIC directly accused Portier of “ordering the destruction of video and reports in order to avoid their use as evidence in investigations.”
The AOIC’s worries continued after the team returned to the US, but he was pressured by his superiors not to get Gallagher “into trouble.”
The second proffer was submitted on January 17th and its from the troop chief and it sheds a bit of light on Seal Team 7’s inner workings.
In the proffer, the troop chief described that from conversations with Alpha Platoon’s lead petty officer he recalled stories of Gallagher allegedly stealing nutrition bars and beef jerky out of care packages, plus concerns about Gallagher’s leadership raised in the autumn, but the troop chief said he “had heard nothing whatsoever” about alleged war crimes.
Gallagher was also accused of stealing sunglass and money, but “it was a lot more than that.”
The troop chief said that the allegations weren’t enough to derail Gallagher’s upcoming promotion to senior chief, but that his proposed Silver Star had been withdrawn.
That is when the SO1 directly accused Gallagher of stabbing the ISIS detainee in the neck, killing him. The SO1 told him the platoon members “holding the detainee down jumped back in shock and surprise.”
According to the proffer, the troop chief asked him why no one had reported the alleged murder and the SO1 answered that they thought it was pointless because of Gallagher’s close ties to the entire chain of command, not to mention the prospect “about other people getting in trouble or caught up in things.”
The troop chief undertook no initial action, but at one point spoke privately to Gallagher and alluded to more serious allegations from the SEALs, including the murder ones.
According to the proffer, Gallagher claimed that he had killed the wound detainee “in self-defense.”
The troop chief was allegedly shocked, because according to him SEALs do not consider a knife to be a “reasonable or advisable method of killing, given all the other weapons, including grappling and hand-to-hand combat that SEALs are trained to employ.”
“Knife kills are virtually unheard of in the SEAL community,” the proffer states.