Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) on Wednesday is planning to show interested members of Congress a video from a Navy SEAL’s helmet camera that he believes will help exonerate Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher on war crime charges he faces when his trial begins later this month.
“When other members of Congress see the video as he has seen it, that it’s going to shed light on the situation as a whole and the case that the Navy is presenting against Chief Gallagher,” Michael Harrison, a spokesman for Hunter, told Breitbart News on Sunday.
“When Congressman Hunter saw the video, his first response was that it exonerates Chief Gallagher. But his second was that as many members of Congress that can see this need to be able to see this,” he added.
Gallagher, 39, is accused of stabbing a wounded teenage Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter to death during his most recent deployment to Iraq from 2017 to 2018, during the final major battle against ISIS in Mosul.
However, according to Gallagher’s wife, Andrea Gallagher, and his brother, Sean Gallagher, the video shows that Gallagher gave medical aid to the wounded teenager, who admitted to being an ISIS fighter before he died.
The contents of the video are under “protective order” — which means it cannot be shared with members of the public to ensure a fair case.
However, after suspected leaks from the prosecution or NCIS to the media, Gallagher’s attorney Tim Parlatore recently argued and obtained an exception for the video to be shown to Hunter and other members of Congress who are interested in Gallagher’s case.
“So many other members of Congress have expressed an interest in this case that they needed to see the full evidence at hand, and Congressman Hunter strongly believes that the video evidence is to Gallagher’s benefit, and not to his detriment,” said Harrison.
Andrea and Sean have not seen the video themselves, since it is under protective order, but Parlatore has described its contents in court. According to his description in court, the roughly two-minute video shows the wounded male teenager being dragged off the hood of a humvee by Iraqi partner forces.
Chief Gallagher then is heard asking an Iraqi general about the fighter, “Is this ISIS?” The general affirms he is, and Gallagher says, “OK, I got him.” Gallagher then clears the crowd, gets out his medical kit, assesses the fighter’s wounds, and begins cutting the fighter’s pant leg to treat his most severe wounds.
“The video is 100 percent exculpatory,” Andrea said in an interview with Breitbart News on Friday.
Hunter, a Marine veteran whose constituents include the Gallaghers, first spoke about the video after viewing it on April 19:
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“Gallagher provided medical attention to an ISIS terrorist,” Hunter said in the video post. “He tried to save his life — that’s what it shows. Eddie Gallagher’s going to be exonerated.”
The Gallaghers’ fight to exonerate the 39-year-old decorated Navy SEAL chief has been an uphill one — ironically due to what the family says has been a whisper campaign about the video.
Andrea and Sean claim that some members of Congress and others they turned to for help were warned by unknown military and defense officials that they should not help Gallagher because there is a damning video of him related to the stabbing.
They say the threat succeeded in some cases, and in some cases, the willingness to help turned to reluctance or silence.
The Gallagher family and Parlatore say they are not exactly sure who spread the rumor, but claim it was being circulated to members of Congress and all the way up to the White House.
Asked for a comment on the video, a NCIS spokesman responded, “NCIS does not comment on ongoing investigations.” A spokeswoman for Navy Region Southwest said in a response:
The court has imposed a protective order regarding information in this case. In addition, in accordance with the rules governing the conduct of attorneys practicing within the military justice system, the government does not comment on the existence or non-existence of evidence. Finally, service members and their families have the right to correspond with Congress.
Parlatore said he is positive the video they have is the same one that has been whispered about for months, and that he knows because the prosecution has turned over all videos in their possession and this is the only video that significantly relates to the stabbing allegation.
Gallagher’s supporters argue it does not make sense for Gallagher to treat the ISIS fighter only to stab him to death.
Gallagher is also facing allegations of shooting a young girl and an old man from a sniper post during the same tour. His defense attorney said those charges are not true.
“The stabbing is not true, he did not stab this ISIS fighter, he provided medical treatment. The prosecution has evidence he didn’t stab him. The knife they said he used to stab him — there’s no blood,” Parlatore said in an interview with Breitbart News on Sunday.
“The shooting of the civilians did not happen. These are stories that were made up by certain members of the platoon,” he added.
Gallagher led a platoon of Navy SEALs, as part of the final battle to defeat ISIS in Iraq. Some of those platoon members later accused Gallagher of committing the stabbing and the shootings.
Andrea Gallagher said the accusations arose from “bad blood” during the deployment, where Gallagher scolded the much-younger SEALS for their lackluster performance, and they claimed he was too tough on them. She claims what started as griping escalated into war crimes allegations after they returned home and her husband was put up for a Silver Star and a plum assignment training young SEALs.
Hunter plans to show the video to Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who separately had reached out to the Gallagher family after hearing about the case, and any other member of Congress who would like to view it.
Hunter and Norman have both spearheaded the fight in Congress to help Gallagher family fight to get a fair trial and treatment for Gallagher.
They wrote a letter with 38 other Republican members of Congress to the Navy’s regional commander in late March to advocate for Gallagher’s release from pre-trial confinement. He was subsequently released after more than seven months in a San Diego military brig awaiting trial at the end of May.
It was due to their and the Gallagher family’s advocacy that the issue has gained national attention, all the way up to President Trump.
Trump tweeted on March 30: “In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman.”
In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2019
Gallagher’s trial begins May 28 in San Diego.