Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) admitted this week if the alleged war crimes a former Navy SEAL awaiting trial are true, he would still support him anyway.
“I didn’t believe the charges against Eddie Gallagher,” the congressman said flat-out when asked about the case.
Gallagher was arrested in September on more than a dozen charges. The arrest came after seven fellow SEALs on his platoon came forward with concerns about the SEAL’s actions in the field.
According to the New York Times, the SEALs claimed that Gallagher needlessly put his teammates in danger by making rash decisions by firing off rickets and starting firefights. They claimed Gallagher often bragged about the number of people he killed, including women civilians. Two of his teammates recalled a time where Gallagher shot a girl in a flower-printed hijab with a sniper. Two other snipers said he shot and killed an unarmed man.
The main accusation that Gallagher will be fighting when he appears in court, scheduled for June 10, is how he treated a prisoner.
The SEALs held a captured ISIS prisoner who was wounded and thought to be about 15 years old. Gallagher allegedly stabbed him the neck multiple time and then the chest, killing him. Gallagher then purportedly took a picture of the body and sent it to another SEAL with the text, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”
Hunter, a Marine veteran, told the podcast that the charges against Gallagher are too harsh:
“In the end, even if everything that the prosecutors said about the one ISIS fighter […] I frankly don’t care if he was killed. I just don’t care. That’s my personal point of view, and as a congressman, that’s my prerogative to help a guy out like that. Even if everything that the prosecutors say is true in this case, then Eddie Gallagher should still be given a break, I think.”
Listen to the podcast below (Hunter’s comments start around 31:40):
Hunter said he saw a video of the prisoner and claimed the captive was going to die anyway. According to the Times, SEAL medics told investigators the prisoner’s injuries weren’t life-threatening.
The congressman then admitted he had killed civilians, including possibly women and children, during his service.
“How do you judge me? I was an artillery officer, and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians, if not scores, if not hundreds of civilians,” Hunter said. “Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged, too?”