Gallagher Claims SEAL Platoon Agreed to Practice Medical Procedures on Dying Prisoner



Retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of murdering an Islamic State prisoner in a highly public and controversial war crimes trial, said in a new podcast that his entire platoon intended to kill the man and agreed to practice medical procedures on him until he died.

At one point in the podcast, Gallagher appears to say that the medical treatments the platoon provided led to the prisoner’s death.

“I didn’t stab that dude,” Gallagher said in the final episode of the Apple podcast “The Line,” which was released Tuesday. “That dude died from all the medical treatments that were done. And there was plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.”

Task and Purpose first reported on Gallagher’s comments on the podcast.

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In an interview with Military.com, Gallagher’s attorney Timothy Parlatore said that nothing he said on the podcast changed the facts of the case as they have been known.

“This information was always there, was always just beneath the surface,” Parlatore said. “It was in the open. But nobody really noticed it, or nobody wanted to notice it.”

Gallagher was accused of stabbing the wounded ISIS fighter in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017 and charged with premeditated murder. He was also charged with attempted murder over allegations he unlawfully shot at civilians during that deployment.

He faced a court-martial in 2019, where he was ultimately found not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder. Gallagher was convicted of unlawfully posing for a picture with the prisoner’s dead body.

Former President Trump repeatedly intervened in Gallagher’s case, ordering the Navy to release him from pretrial confinement, allow him to retire with his SEAL Trident

In the podcast, Gallagher said that the other members of the platoon — including some who testified against him — openly discussed performing medical treatments on the prisoner until he died.

“Everybody knew what was going on,” he said. “The grain of truth in the whole thing is that that ISIS fighter was killed by us, and that nobody at that time had a problem with it. We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him. Everybody was on board.”

The host then interjected to ask, “Your intention was to kill him?”

Gallagher responded that they intended to “do medical scenarios on him until he died.”

When asked by the podcast host whether that amounted to “nursing [the prisoner] to death,” Gallagher said, “Yeah, if you want to put it in a nice way. Nursing him to death, or just killing him — he was going to die regardless. We weren’t taking any prisoners. That wasn’t our job.”

In Wednesday’s interview, Parlatore said the SEALs “did not intend to kill an unarmed prisoner using medical treatment,” and that Gallagher’s statements have been misinterpreted.

Gallagher and the rest of the SEALs did intend to kill members of ISIS, Parlatore said, but did so by calling in a Hellfire missile strike on their building. That strike killed all the ISIS members except the prisoner, who was badly wounded and, they believed, likely to die, he added.

After the strike, the SEALs conducted medical treatment on the prisoner to practice their skills, Parlatore said.

“By the time he got to them, he was dying,” the lawyer said. “There was no way to save him. They made a decision, and they agreed they would perform medical treatment on him until he expired. They did that for training purposes; they did it to prevent [the Emergency Response Division, an Iraqi special forces unit accused of torture and other abuses] from torturing him. It was not done with the intent of using medical procedures to hasten his death.”

When asked about Gallagher’s statement that the prisoner “died from all the medical treatments that were done,” Parlatore said, “That may have been an inartful way of saying it.

“Eddie’s an operator, he’s not an orator,” he added.

Parlatore said the medical treatments may have prolonged the prisoner’s life, including a treatment Gallagher administered that he said cleared the prisoner’s airway and allowed him to breathe again.

Gallagher’s court-martial was upended by the shocking testimony of one of his platoon mates, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, who changed his story on the stand and testified that he himself killed the prisoner by asphyxiating him.

Parlatore said that practicing medical treatments on a dying patient who was beyond saving is legal and commonly done by doctors in emergency rooms, though they typically get the patients’ consent before doing so.

“The ethics opinions ultimately come down to say, you really should get informed consent from the patient before doing this,” Parlatore said. “Obviously, they did not get informed consent from the terrorist, but what they did is not illegal.”

When asked whether it was ethical to practice medical procedures on a prisoner who had not granted consent, Parlatore said, “According to the [American Medical Association], they should have gotten the terrorist’s consent. And so maybe Eddie shouldn’t be practicing medicine anymore. But it is what they did in a combat scenario.”

Parlatore said one of the junior members of the platoon was allowed to insert a chest tube and conduct a needle decompression on the prisoner. That junior member had learned how to conduct those procedures in class, he said, but had never before performed them on an actual patient.

“It is valuable training,” Parlatore said. “He got the opportunity to get that training, to know how to do it, so that the first time that he has to actually do it in real life isn’t when one of his buddies is about to die. It’s not pretty, it’s not something that we like to talk about, but that’s the truth.”

When asked about Gallagher’s podcast remarks during a press briefing Wednesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, “I’m not sure I’m going to dignify those comments with a response.”

— Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Related: Retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher Strikes Back at SEALs Who Testified Against Him

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