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Eddie Gallagher says he and other Navy SEALs used a dying enemy fighter for medical practice with no intention of saving him

  • Eddie Gallagher says he and other SEALs practiced medical procedures on a prisoner of war.
  • “We killed that guy. Our intention was to kill him. Everybody was on board,” he said during a recent interview.
  • He said that apparent life-saving actions were really just live practice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Retired Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murder in a high-profile war crimes trial nearly two years ago, said in a podcast that aired Tuesday that he and his team of SEALs practiced various medical procedures on a live enemy combatant until he died, doing so with no intention of saving him.

Gallagher was charged with killing the wounded ISIS fighter in Iraq in 2017 by stabbing him to death, but he was acquitted in 2019. He was, however, convicted of posing for a photo with the enemy fighter’s corpse and demoted.

After the trial, then-President Donald Trump restored Gallagher’s rank and personally intervened when the Navy attempted to take away Gallagher’s SEAL trident.

Speaking with Dan Taberski, host of “The Line,” recently, Gallagher said that “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,” he claimed.

“He was going to die regardless. We weren’t taking any prisoners,” Gallagher said, alleging that “everyone was, like, let’s just do medical treatments on him until he’s gone.”

Edward Gallagher

Gallagher in an undated photo released on May 24, 2019.

Andrea Gallagher via Reuters


The former chief petty officer, who served as the senior enlisted leader of his SEAL platoon and a medic, argued that he did not stab the enemy fighter to death, as has been alleged by some former members of his team.

Instead, he explained, “that dude died from all the medical treatments that were done, and there’s plenty of medical treatments that were done to him.”

Navy Times, citing records, reported in 2019 that after 20 minutes of treatment, the prisoner’s body “ended up inexplicably spangled with medical devices,” including a trachea tube, multiple chest tubes, and a sternal intraosseous infusion.

During the recent “The Line” interview, Gallagher said that he cut an emergency airway in the ISIS fighter’s throat and inserted a breathing tube “just for practice.” He explained that he “was practicing to see how fast I could do one.”

“Everybody knew what was going on,” Gallagher claimed. “That is the only truthful thing to this whole process,” he continued. “And then the rest of it, just is like, a bunch of contorted lies to, like, pin that whole scenario on me.”

Although his defense team did not openly argue this particular narrative during Gallagher’s trial, it did appear in a motion filed by the defense.

A defense motion obtained by Navy Times stated that when the 17-year-old ISIS fighter was brought in, “he was at or near death.”

The defense argued that Gallagher “initially attempted to save his life,” but once it was clear he could not be saved, the platoon’s medic started “using the newly dead or nearly dead ISIS fighter as a training aid to practice performing medical procedures.”

Gallagher’s statements during his recent interview with Taberski undermine arguments that he tried to save the teenage ISIS fighter’s life but potentially fill some gaps about what might have happened during his final moments.

Gallagher’s defense attorney, Tim Parlatore, told Insider that what the former Navy SEAL described in the podcast, which he accused of some “selective editing” for the purpose of sensationalism, is “what truly happened.”

He said that assertions that Gallagher tried to save the life of the enemy fighter, who had been critically wounded in an airstrike, refer to the initial medical assessment Gallagher conducted. Once it was determined that saving his life was impossible, the decision was made to use the fighter as a training aid.

Parlatore also argued that such practices are not uncommon.

edward gallagher

Gallagher walks out of military court in San Diego, July 2, 2019.


Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images



While the American Medical Association says that “medical training sometimes involves practicing procedures on newly deceased patients,” a 2002 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine argued that “current ethical norms do not support the practice of using newly and nearly dead patients for training in invasive medical procedures absent prior consent.”

Parlatore said that while such actions may be ethically questionable, practicing medical procedures on a dying person is not murder. He argued that the cause of death was the airstrike, telling Insider that the medical procedures practiced on him did not hasten his demise.

Gallagher’s own comments in the recent interview appear somewhat contradictory.

During the trial, Parlatore argued that the “case isn’t about murder,” stating instead that “it’s about mutiny.” The defense argued that disgruntled members of Gallagher’s platoon seized the opportunity and made up a story about what happened to get rid of him.

Some of Gallagher’s former platoon members described him as “toxic” and “freaking evil,” with Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Scott saying “you could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.”

Scott testified under immunity that although Gallagher stabbed the young ISIS fighter, he was the one that actually killed him by covering his breathing tube and asphyxiating him as a kind of mercy killing.

The US Navy has not responded to Insider’s request for comment on Gallagher’s latest remarks.

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