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 amid 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 Trump, who 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. 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.

Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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(13) comments

Proudindependent

Trump just sent the military a message, the code of conduct no longer matters.

Mr Lemons

The President, as Commander-In-Chief, can do whatever he wants regarding the military. He is the Commander. Hopefully, the Navy has learned an important lesson about respecting the chain of command.

HwyRovr

Uhh, no he cannot which is one of the reasons the lying scum is facing impeachment. Just how stupid are you?

VA172

Uhh, yes he can. SECTION 2. Clause 1. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Office, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Escapee

Just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. And for the President to overturn judgement of a military disciplinary action shows that he has no respect for the military or rule of law.

HwyRovr

The lying, draft-dodging, racist, scummy, coward has no business interfering in the legal actions of the military. Now what about those tax returns, liar?

dougleonard6

Stop your lying rovr

HwyRovr

"HwyRovr" - Cut and paste alert from our favorite comrade.

dougleonard6

stop lying rovr

HwyRovr

"HwyRovr" - Cut and paste alert from our favorite comrade.

bob b

Hyway Rover has all sorts of names for Trump, who can never do anything right. He is very quiet about the last President. I prefer a President who stands up for our military over one who pardons traitors like Manning and Bergdahl.

VA172

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

HwyRovr

Here are some of my comments (previously listed BTW) about our last actual President -

Obama, Passed Health Care Reform - Rescued the Economy - Passed Wall Street Reform - Negotiated a Deal to Block A Nuclear Iran - Secured U.S. Commitment to a Global Agreement on Climate Change - Eliminated Osama bin Laden - Turned Around the U.S. Auto Industry - Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’’ - Supported Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages - Reversed Bush Torture Policies - Established Rules to Limit Carbon Emissions from Power Plants - Normalized Relations with Cuba - Put Medicare on Sounder Financial Footing - Established Net Neutrality - Boosted Fuel Efficiency Standards - Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Funding - Diversified the Federal Bureaucracy - Passed Fair Sentencing Act - Revived the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division - Expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection - Gave the FDA the Power to Regulate Tobacco - Trimmed and Reoriented Missile Defense - Kick-started Clean Energy Investment - Reduced the Threat from Nuclear Weapons - Passed Credit Card Reforms - Cut Veteran Homelessness by Half - Expanded Overtime Pay - Cracked Down on Bad For-Profit Colleges - Cut the Deficit - Created the College Scorecard - Improved School Nutrition - Expanded the Definition of Hate Crimes - Recognized the Dangers of Carbon Dioxide - Strengthened Women’s Right to Fair Pay - Secured the Removal of Chemical Weapons from Syria - Protected LGBTQ Americans From Employment Discrimination - Reduced Discrimination Against Former Prisoners in Federal Hiring - Won Major Victories Against Housing and Mortgage Discrimination - Expanded Broadband Coverage - Expanded Health Coverage for Children - Improved Food Safety - Rebuilt and Fortified the Gulf Coast post-Katrina - Avoided Scandal

Of course the current occupant of the White House (uhh Mar–A-Lago) is working very hard to destroy every advance made by President Obama, particularly the last item.

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