Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's Wife and Brother Share How the Accusations Went from Cookie Butter Theft to Murder

It started out with a small group of Navy SEALs back in Mosul, Iraq, in the summer of 2017.

First they complained he stole someone’s Red Bull energy drinks, that he ate half of someone’s cookie butter from a care package, and that he didn’t pay someone back for a haircut.

Two complainants did have more serious concerns — they thought he was too aggressive in his tactics, which they felt put their lives at unnecessary risk.

But those allegations were nothing like those he faced months after the Navy SEAL platoon returned home.

The allegations turned from stealing cookie butter into cold-blooded murder — that he stabbed a wounded teenage ISIS captive to death and mowed down a young girl and old man from a sniper’s roost.

Soon, what started as petty rumors morphed into murder charges against a decorated Navy SEAL in a case that has captured the nation’s — and the president’s — attention.

Those fighting for 40-year-old Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher’s innocence believe he will ultimately be found not guilty when his trial convenes on June 17.

His wife Andrea Gallagher and his brother Sean Gallagher described in recent interviews with Breitbart News how they believe it all happened.

“Initially when this happened, we were just in pure and utter shock and disbelief,” Andrea Gallagher said in a recent phone interview. “You assume there’s no way. There’s just no way.”

Andrea said it all began when her husband was tapped to lead the worst-performing SEAL Team platoon into the final battle to finish off the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017. It would be his eighth combat deployment and his second time to Mosul.

During the workup to the deployment, Eddie turned it into the No. 1 platoon, she said. However, on the deployment beginning February 2017, things quickly soured between Eddie, who was the platoon chief, and his much-younger subordinate SEALs in their mid-20s.

Some of the platoon members started to complain constantly about the battle rhythm, she said. Eddie scolded them, saying, ‘You guys are not performing…on the SEAL teams, this is how we do it.” He told them to their faces, “You guys are performing like cowards and pussies,” she said.

Her husband pulled those who were not performing “off target,” she said. He started to send a group back to rest, and leave a group on target, alternating a week on and a week off. Meanwhile, Eddie, and the officer-in-charge Navy SEAL Lt. Jacob “Jake” Portier, and the assistant officer-in-charge Navy SEAL Lt. Tom MacNeil were the only people who stayed on target, she said.

Andrea said since her husband stayed on target the entire deployment, back at the rest house a “revolt” started. “They would all just b-tch and moan and piss…like high school girls,” she said.

She said the initial campaign was started by four people, including some who had never been in combat before and were not handling the battle rhythm. She said Eddie told them, “What we’re doing is not anything over and above what the call of duty is. This is standard operating procedure.”

She said at that time, both Portier and MacNeil took Eddie’s side and were reprimanding the platoon members for lack of performance.

“It’s just very weird juxtaposition of this warrior community that’s been infiltrated by these weaker minded individuals that can’t be told what to do, they don’t respect authority, in fact they usurp authority and they don’t think that they’re accountable to anyone or anything,” she said.

They started a WhatsApp group chat about Eddie, who they had nicknamed “El Diablo,” or “the devil” in Spanish.

Towards the end of the deployment in late summer of 2017, the chatter had become a “cancer in the platoon,” she said.

The bad blood was aggravated when Eddie was allowed to return home directly from Iraq to deal with a family issue, instead of having to go through Germany like everyone else.

When everyone returned from deployment in fall 2017, the whispers did not go away. They followed Eddie home and began to affect Andrea as well. She thought Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command would help them squelch what they called the “hate circle,” but they did not.

The whisper campaign escalated, particularly after the SEALs found out Eddie was being rewarded a coveted spot at Naval Special Warfare Group 1’s Training Detachment (TRADET) for his last tour, and being put in for a Silver Star.

At TRADET, Eddie would be working with every single Navy SEAL on the West Coast preparing to deploy into battle, she said.

“When they found out that the SEAL teams was again awarding my husband with this coveted spot for his twilight tour, that’s when they knew that he would yet again be over them as a boss,” she said.

She said around March 2018, the accusers decided they wanted three things. “They decided that what they wanted — the end goal was three things, they wanted my husband off of TRADET, they wanted my husband stripped of his silver star that they had put him in for. They also wanted him not to pick up E-8,” she said.

Sean said Eddie did such a good job in Mosul that he was named the “number one SEAL chief of the number one SEAL platoon.” “These dudes were pissed about that, they’re like, ‘well this guy put us in danger,'” he said.

He said between fall 2017 and early 2018, the group of roughly six to seven SEALs continued talking about Eddie in the group chat, but did not once mention war crimes.

“Never once in that four to five month period as they’re texting, did they ever mention anything about shooting or stabbing,” he said. “You would think among stealing red bulls, cookie butter, not paying me back for a haircut something a little more serious would pop up.”

Sean explained that Eddie had eaten half a can of someone’s cookie butter that was sent in a care package, because he knew that he would be receiving one soon. “[Eddie] got a new one, handed it to him, and this guy never forgave him. On the text exchange this guy was being like, ‘F-ck that guy he ate my cookie butter.'”

Sean said it was telling that one of the accuser’s main requests was getting Eddie’s Silver Star revoked. “If you saw someone murder a kid, would your first request be, ‘I want their star for valor demoted? … I don’t want him to have a silver star, but a bronze star is ok.'”

He said that a couple of the SEALs were personally aggrieved by the deployment, however, and felt that Eddie had put them in danger.

“The guys thought they’d be doing night raids, very orchestrated, very practiced. In Mosul…they were doing daytime missions. They Navy SEALs didn’t expect it,” Sean said.

Sean said the SEALs saw some really bad things out in Mosul. ISIS had put bodies through meat grinders, put children’s heads on spikes, and were using toddlers as shields, he said. “They see some f-cked up shit, they don’t know how to deal with it,” he said.

“They come back, the boss that they just had, who reprimanded them repeatedly on deployment, is now going to their boss again, nominated to be the leader of TRADET,” he said.

Andrea said her husband “decided to take this head-on.” She said Eddie called a meeting with all those who deployed on SEAL Team Seven around October 2017.

“My husband had a three-hours long meeting with every single member of SEAL Team 7 on that deployment and he said, I want to address every single grievance and complaint that what you guys are doing is you’re spreading rumors through this community that are false, you’re also involving your wives, and so your wives are spreading this and they’re also being very rude to my wife,” he said.

Andrea said during that meeting, he repeated that they were being “cowards and pussies.” “You’re actually involving your wives in this and therefore this is not the way that men and the SEAL Teams handle it.”

Andrea said during that meeting, there was no mention of war crimes.

She and Eddie thought everything was addressed. Some of the team members were staying with SEAL Team 7, and some were moving on to other teams or different groups.

However, the SEALs wouldn’t drop it. Around April 2018, they went to the command of SEAL Team 7 to complain about Eddie’s leadership and tactics. At first, the commanders took Eddie’s side, Andrea said.

She said, “The hierarchy said, ‘OK, tell me what he did.’ [They said] ‘Oh, well he put us in danger.’ ‘OK, how did he put you in danger?’ ‘Oh, he used this tactic to draw fire.'”

Andrea said commanders told them, “You guys that is a tried and true tactic, we teach that in all of our schools.”

“They were told time and time again by [SEAL Team 7 Commander Lt. Cmdr.] Rob Breisch, ‘You guys need to decompress, you need to let this go, you’re obsessed with him…yet on the other hand…if you do have something of validity, you must, you are actually obligated to tell if something happened on deployment that is not on the up and up.’ And every time they would say they’ve got nothing,” she said.

Andrea said Breisch would ask if there were any Law of Armed Conflict violations and each time they would say no.

Andrea said there is evidence that the accusers took a vote on whether they were going to escalate their claims and start saying her husband committed war crimes.

“And at that moment, there were people who jumped off this bandwagon, and they said I’m not OK with this, this is not OK what you’re doing,” she said. “And there were people who took the lead and ran with it. And so that’s why this is also very confusing, because the players that started this are not the players that are finishing it.”

Andrea said Breisch passed it up to Naval Special Warfare Group 1, where the group’s judge advocate general (JAG) initially rejected it when no accuser claimed that they personally saw anything. However, they succeeded in getting his Silver Star pulled and getting him off TRADET in April 2018. But they did not stop there, she said.

Andrea and Sean said the accusers began asking NSW Group 1 what it would take to get rid of Eddie.

“We actually have them on record, in a conversation, going to one of their commands, and being like, ‘What will it take, what will it take to get rid of Eddie?” Sean said. “And they’re like, ‘Well, we have some serious things we want to bring forward.'”

Andrea said at the same time, Eddie was actually going to the command demanding a captain’s mast. “He was so sick of the lies and our family being smeared. He was also at that point taken off of TRADET, so he was like, ‘I’m done with this, I’m being punished for something that never happened, let’s address this at face value.'”

She said after the accusers began claiming they personally saw things and had “damning video” of Eddie killing a teenage ISIS fighter, and in April 2018, NCIS launched an investigation.

Andrea said NCIS became the accusers “on steroids.”

“When NCIS became involved the corruption went from typical team spreading gossip and their millennial mindset to this was a whole another level where you bring in a corrupt entity using their power and authority,” Andrea said.

She called lead NCIS agent Joseph Warpinski “the epitome of corruption, lack of oversight, complete abuse of power and authority within our government.”

Andrea said according to materials obtained through discovery from the prosecution, Warpinksi coerced eight individuals into giving statements.

“He told them point blank, ‘None of this will be used and put in a case file, this is all just for accumulation of information, it’s going to go in a source file.’ You can hear these individuals say, ‘Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, like if this goes to trial, I don’t want my name on this, I want to be involved in this.’”

She said Warpinski can be heard telling them, “‘No no no, you’re not going to be involved in this. This is not for a case.’ So they were coerced and lied to.”

She also said there is evidence the video interviews turned over to the defense were tampered with. “You watch and there is a table and a laptop…you can hear a conversation going on in the background that’s almost inaudible…where you have one of these mean girl accusers that’s literally saying, like he doesn’t want to talk about it, he’s worried about where this is going, like basically this has gone too far.

“And you can hear the lead agent Warpinski telling him, ‘No don’t worry, don’t worry.’ Well, there’s a whole portion of it that if you’re watching the computer and the laptop, all of a sudden appears a can of Coke on top of the laptop instantaneously. There’s entire portions of the video that are scrubbed and redacted, and so we have brought that up to the judge.”

She said the prosecution and NCIS claim they were obscuring the witnesses’ biographical information. However, she said those things would be made inaudible by a static noise, not edited out.

Andrea said since there is no hard evidence to support their claims, investigators and the prosecution were relying wholly on these interviews.

“It’s a cold case. There’s no body. There’s no blood on the knife. No blood in the sheath of the knife,” she said. “So…you are trying to cobble together a case on rumors, lies, and hearsay from people that have an actual vendetta against my husband and a motive to smear him.”

She said the defense obtained the supposedly damning video of her husband, which only showed that the 17-year-old ISIS fighter was brought to her husband, who performed lifesaving medical procedures.

She said there is also no evidence for the sniping charges, and that NCIS and the prosecution hid exculpatory evidence and a witness proffer that went against their case.

She said in early April 2018 there was a witness proffer given over by the lawyer of the “number one witness” that all the sniper charges had hinged on. According to the proffer, the witness does not say he saw Eddie shoot anyone or that it happened, only that he heard that it happened.

She said the prosecution and NCIS worked to hide this exculpatory evidence, because they had pinned everything on him.

“When this occurred on April 3, [2019], our defense was never on the receiving end of that exculpatory proffer,” she said. The defense actually heard about it from a journalist, Carl Prine of Navy Times, who had asked their lawyer Tim Parlatore what he thought of the proffer, she said.

“Then and only then did we uncover that the prosecution and NCIS had been given information that literally loses their number one witness,” she said.

However, she said the prosecution and NCIS then reinterviewed their number two witness — who was not in the same tower as Eddie. She said the witness claimed he saw Eddie shoot the young girl, even though it conflicted with two previous statements he gave.

“His initial statements said he saw the little girl, he told Jake Portier that it was a member of ISIS that shot the little girl, and every interview thereafter it gets more and more and more asinine to the point where this individual, who was not even in the same vicinity is saying he saw my husband do it,” she said.

“We believe that lead agent Joe Warpinski is using him as a pawn to further their narrative,” she said.

Andrea said of those interviewed by NCIS, some are pleading the fifth and saying they would rather go to jail than testify on the stand.

She said while Warpinski is conducting second and third interviews to “cobble together” the case, the “complete prosecution” is in the room. Warpinski is “actually working hand in hand with the government prosecution in order to prep these individuals to lie on the stand,” she said.

Sixty days after opening their investigation, on June 20, 2018, NCIS agents came to Eddie’s work and handcuffed him, and interrogated him for seven hours without legal counsel. In the meantime, Andrea said more than 25 agents raided their home when only their two sons, aged 8 and 18, were home.

“They proceeded to lay siege to our home like we’re members of the f-cking cartel. I was not present, they had seven to eight black vehicles that they unloaded 25-plus NCIS agents, kitted up, in full militia riot gear with assault rifles. They blocked off our entire street. It was a spectacle,” she said.

Andrea said she found out their home was being raided after a neighbor had called her daughter, who was in Ohio at the time, screaming, ‘Your brothers are outside with the police in their underwear!” Her daughter called her immediately, saying, “Mom, where are you? Ryan and Treven are outside in their underwear.”

Andrea said she bolted from a meeting and tried to call her neighbors. When she got through to a neighbor, she was screaming, “They’re in your garage, they’re in your house. They’re everyone. They have your kids, they have your dogs.”

“My home is being raided. I don’t know where my husband is at this point,” she said. After being put on the phone with NCIS, they agreed to let her through the barricade to join her sons. She said NCIS pulled her into a van and tried to interrogate her.

She said they said, “We want you to say some of the rumors you’ve heard about your husband. … I would not in a million years recount the rumors.” She said they also took her phone.

She said Warpinski went from her home back to where Eddie was being detained, and told him, “Oh I saw your wife and kids today.”

“That’s when my husband knew that his home had been raided,” she said.

“They used it to shame and embarrass our family so that people would think we were guilt before we could prove our innocence,” she said. “NCIS was methodical about smearing our family.”

Sean said they took Eddie’s phone and used information from his chats to try to intimidate his friends into giving statements against Eddie. He said when Eddie told them they did not have to talk to NCIS without a lawyer, Sean said Eddie was accused of obstruction.

After the home raid, Andrea said they were completely shunned by NSW. “It’s like them giving our family a grenade…they’re like, ‘We can’t be involved in this because if we defend you or help you, then we will go down with you, so we need to protect the institution,’” she said.

She said NSW acted like they had no part in the home raid, but that NSW Group 1 commodore Capt. Matthew Rosenbloom had to sign off on it, as well as Eddie being thrown in the brig.

She said NSW started to work hand in hand with the prosecution to cover themselves. “If you’re saying that an individual went rogue on deployment and that no one in the hierarchy reported it, it is a direct correlation to the breakdown of NSW at the tippity, tippity top…so they have a vested interest in smearing my husband.”

She said during one hearing, she saw a JAG for NSW Group 1 hugging and shaking hands with the prosecutors, and whispering in their ears for a seven hour hearing.

“Why in the world would a f-cking jag for NSW Group 1 be working so closely with the government prosecutorial team, like riddle me that? It’s such bullshit. It points to corruption at all levels,” she said.

On September 11, 2018, NCIS arrested Eddie, and put him in a brig at the order of Rosenbloom, she said.

She said after that, NCIS had a direct line to tape all of our conversations.

“I believe that by September they had nothing,” she said. “So why they put him in the brig was to break him, to break him mentally, to break our family and our children mentally to separate us, to split us.”

Around that time, Andrea said they had to fight an effort from those within the military and Pentagon who were trying to smear Eddie.

She and Sean said the rumor about the “damning video” of Eddie was being used to discourage members of Congress from supporting her Eddie.

Andrea said on April 18, 2019, Dan Walsh, an assistant to the president and White House deputy chief of staff for operations, told Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who had taken up Eddie’s case, about the supposedly damaging video. Navy SEAL Rear. Adm. Keith Davids, deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office, was also present.

She said Walsh told Norman, “You need to stand down. You will be embarrassed, there is a video blah blah blah.”

“Why would you stack the deck against someone this much?” she said.

Andrea and Sean also believe a New York Times piece in December 2018 was also part of the cover up. The lede of the story presented the accusations against Eddie as fact.

“His opening line didn’t even say ‘alleged.’ It said mowing down little girls and old men. shooting indiscriminately into civilian crowds,” Sean said.

Sean said the reporter told him that someone in the Defense Department had leaked to him approximately 400 pages from the case file, which violated a protective order on all evidence and discovery the judge ordered in order to ensure a fair and just trial for Eddie.

“All they have left is a smear campaign against my husband. The charges at face value — there’s no evidence for any of them,” she said. “The New York Times was used as a mouthpiece to disseminate no new information,” Andrea said.

Andrea said she is would have never imagined that the “rumors, lies and hearsay of a vindictive nature of a handful of people trying to smear a person could have evolved into what is now what it is.”

“This started out as a set-up by millennial mindset SEALs to just get my husband off a training cell but it’s now evolved into a what we are seeing is a military-wide cover up,” she said.

“Because what it’ll point to is, if they can’t get my husband thrown under the bus, it’ll point to how badly the top brass at the Naval Special Warfare flubbed this case, and how closely they actually worked with NCIS and the prosecution to try to throw my husband under the bus,” she said.

Earlier this month, the judge in the case, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, approved the dismissal of the Navy’s lead prosecutor, after it was found he had sent an email with tracking software to the defense and a journalist. He also approved Eddie’s release from confinement so he could help prepare for his case.

Breitbart News contacted NCIS for a comment, but the investigative body said it does not comment on ongoing investigations. Breitbart News also contacted Navy Region Southwest but did not receive a comment.

Andrea compares what her husband is going through to the Russian collusion hoax or the smear campaign against Justice Brett Kavanaugh on a smaller scale.

“When Kavanaugh was going through what he was going through, we’re like ‘Oh, sounds familiar.’ No proof, botched hearsay, double triple quadruple hearsay, ‘don’t know what happened, but this is what I think and this is what I heard’ — it’s so similar,” she said.

“After they threw him in the brig, and we realized just how badly this system was going to fail us and continue to fail us and how broken the process was,” she said.

Sean discussed the journey he and Andrea have taken to bring attention to Eddie’s case. He said at first, it was just him and Andrea, with the daunting challenge of facing a government with unlimited resources.

Out of sheer coincidence, his uncle’s wife’s brother had served on the New York Police Department with former New York Police Departmentt commissioner Bernie Kerik. Kerik contacted the family, and introduced them to his lawyer, Tim Parlatore, who is now Eddie’s lead lawyer.

“There have been people we’ve deemed answers to prayers. Bernie has been one of those,” Sean said. He said because of Bernie’s role during the 9/11 attacks, he felt a kinship with those who went to fight the wars against terror.

Eddie was among the first wave of U.S. forces to go into Iraq, as a Navy medic attached to a Marine unit.

Sean, a former congressional staffer, also discussed the arduous task of trying to get members of Congress to help Eddie get a fair trial. He went to both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and met with their staff.

He said had over 50 meetings with senators and staffers — often to no avail. Some staffers told him that his brother would be “fine” with a military-assigned lawyer.

Sean said that lawyer did not show up for six weeks after being assigned, and asked Eddie off the bat if he wanted to take a plea deal. The brig is a “plea factory in there,” Sean said.

Other staffers just did not want to get involved or lied about not being able to get involved. “Everyone loves to pass the buck. … If I wasn’t a former staffer, I would have accepted this,” he said.

He was finally able to get Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) involved. Sean said Rep. Norman got involved after hearing about the case on Fox News. His cousin had married a Navy SEAL who knew of Eddie’s case, and gave him Sean and Andrea’s number. “That guy is another answer to a prayer,” Sean said.

Sean still had to fight the rumors of the supposedly damning video of Eddie. “Our allies have been told repeatedly, don’t get involved,” he said.

He went to Democrat and Republican members, but no Democrats wanted to touch the issue — which he felt was a personal betrayal since he had worked for some of them.

Sean said Trump became interested in the case after hearing about it on Fox News. “All I had to do was get on TV and I spoke directly to him. That’s transparency, right?” he said.

Kristina Wong

More From: Kristina Wong
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