Justice was served – at long last – when a jury found Navy SEAL Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher not guilty Tuesday of charges including murder and attempted murder in the killing of an ISIS fighter in Iraq.

The verdict proved that even the badly broken military justice can still get things right on occasion.

Gallagher, who heroically risked his life and served his country for 20 years in the Navy, should never have been charged. He spent nine months in prison awaiting his trial and was treated disgracefully by the Navy he so loyally served.


Gallagher was found not guilty of charges including premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice and the attempted murder of two noncombatants.

The SEAL was convicted of posing for a photo with a casualty – the least serious charge against him. This conviction is punishable by up to four months imprisonment. However, he has already served more time than that awaiting his trial.

The acquittal of Gallagher on all the most serious charges against him shows that not everyone in the United States military justice system has embraced overzealous and unjust prosecutions of members of our military. We should honor the brave Americans in uniform who carry out their duties despite grave danger while they face enemy fighters who want to kill as many Americans as possible.

Gallagher, who heroically risked his life and served his country for 20 years in the Navy, should never have been charged. He spent nine months in prison awaiting his trial and was treated disgracefully by the Navy he so loyally served.

Navy prosecutors and agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) should be ashamed of their treatment not only of Gallagher, but of his family. Who drags minor children out into the streets at gunpoint in the middle of the night, then dismisses it as “standard operating procedure?”

The NCIS, that’s who.

Unfortunately, Gallagher is not the only member of our military unjustly prosecuted for fighting enemy forces.

Another is Army Lt. Clint Lorance, on whose legal defense team I serve. He was unjustly convicted of one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder after he ordered his men to fire on two motorcycle-riding Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

Yet another military member unjustly prosecuted is former Army Green Beret Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who is facing trial on a charge of killing a Taliban bombmaker in Afghanistan who was responsible for the deaths of Americans.

All three cases are embarrassing stains on the military justice system.

The decision to charge Gallagher was inexcusable. He should never have been charged with the killing of a mortal enemy of the United States who was a member of ISIS, one of the most radical and deadly jihadist groups on the planet.

ISIS fighters have committed the most gruesome and atrocious acts imaginable – public beheadings, burning people to death in cages, slicing little boys in half, mass terror against Christians and more.

Yet prosecuting our courageous warriors is a recurring anti-American theme that infected the military justice system around 2012 and hasn’t stopped.

Fortunately, the defense team in the Gallagher case did an incredible job of uncovering prosecutorial corruption before the case reached the jury.

Gallagher’s attorneys uncovered deliberate attempts by overzealous Navy prosecutors and NCIS agents to spy on his defense team. This involved an illegal search without a warrant –violating Gallagher’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution – and also threatened his right to effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.

In addition, the Navy violated the sacrosanct privacy of the attorney-client privilege. Such misconduct cannot be defended in any way, shape or form.

Thankfully, even in the military justice system we adhere to the time-honored American principle that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

At Gallagher’s trial, a young Navy SEAL medic – Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott – admitted he had cut a breathing tube of the ISIS fighter who Gallagher was accused of killing and said that cutting the breathing tube caused the fighter’s death.

“Did Chief Gallagher kill this terrorist?” Gallagher’s attorney asked Scott at Gallagher’s trial.

“No,” Scott answered.

Then the government’s own pathologist testified that he could find no evidence of a stab wound nor any blood on the dead fighter, nor could he conclude that anything Gallagher did killed the ISIS fighter.

The charges against Gallagher should have been dismissed then, but the trial continued. What a shame.

As an ex-Navy JAG attorney, I’m ashamed of what corrupt Navy prosecutors and NCIS agents did to war hero Gallagher and his family. But I’m proud to say that a clearheaded United States Navy jury put a stop to the insanity, at least in this case.

But without a meaningful overhaul of the military justice system, rogue military prosecutors are still likely to target prominent warfighters like Chief Eddie Gallagher. What a slap in the face to the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.

President Trump, as commander in chief, should put a stop to this. He can do three things to right the ship. 

First, the president should vacate all charges against Army Lt. Clint Lorance and return him to active duty.

Second, President Trump should immediately end the court-martial against Army Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn.


And finally, the president should convene an advisory committee of former judge advocates with marching orders to find ways to ensure that our warriors are no longer prosecuted for killing the enemy.

Now is the time to act, Mr. President.