“You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott told Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents in interviews describing Chief Gallagher.
The video interviews, leaked to the Times, along with a trove of Navy investigative materials including text messages, come on the heels of Gallagher’s case rising to national prominence after President Donald Trump intervened on Gallagher’s behalf, letting him retire with full honors, even though fellow SEAL members said they witnessed Gallagher murder a teenage Islamic State captive with a hunting knife.
The leaked video testimonies show Navy SEALs tense and stressed recounting Gallagher’s brutal behavior while deployed in Iraq in 2017. Miller, trying to hide his tears, apologized for his emotions, saying, “Sorry about this. It’s the first time — I’m really broken up about this.” Although it’s part of SEAL culture not to report teammates for misconduct, in texts between Gallagher’s teammates, they encouraged each other to tell the truth.
In the video recordings, three SEALs talked about a ceremony that was held over the dead body of the captive teenager who was sedated and then stabbed to death by Gallagher. Miller told investigators of the scene where the SEALs gathered over the corpse for photos, “I was listening to it, and I was just thinking, like, this is the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Miller also said he felt he could not refuse to participate in the ceremony.
Chief Gallagher responded to the videos through a statement from his lawyer. “My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me,” the statement read. “But I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment.”
Gallagher’s fellow SEALs, however, painted a different picture. In one video, platoon member Scott was asked by investigators whether Gallagher was biased against people from the Middle East. Scott responded, “I think he just wants to kill anybody he can.”