It appears that U.S. National Security Council Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman isn’t the only Trump administration official who refuses to follow the chain of command and abide by orders. Not by a long shot.
In what is being described as an act of defiance and show of contempt, Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Adm. Collin Green — the country’s top Navy SEAL — has convened a tribunal reportedly designed to force the expulsion of one of the three servicemen who were effectively “pardoned” by President Donald Trump last week.
— MH ??? (@monitteh) November 16, 2019
The specific serviceman in question, Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, was demoted earlier this year after being acquitted of killing a Taliban terrorist but convicted of posing with the photo of a deceased terrorist’s corpse.
Last week the president “pardoned” Gallagher by restoring him to his original rank. But thanks to Green’s stunning move, his pardon could soon mean nothing. More stunning still is that Green’s superiors, including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, are backing his tribunal against Gallagher.
“Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, supports his commanders in executing their roles, to include Rear Adm. Green,” a spokesperson for the admiral said to the Navy Times.
A spokesperson for Spencer likewise added that he too “supports his commanders in executing their roles, to include Rear Adm. Green.”
Meanwhile, some former Obama administration officials, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, have come out in opposition to Trump’s pardons:
Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US servicemembers accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us. #Leadership
— GEN(R) Marty Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) May 21, 2019
While it’s not clear whether the president can intervene in the tribunal and perhaps shut it down, Gallagher has reportedly been trying to fight back on his own for months. Yes, months, because while the tribunal was scheduled for this Wednesday, Green had reportedly been gunning for the Navy SEAL for some time now.
So much so, in fact, that Gallagher has filed an inspector general’s complaint against Green, accusing the rear admiral of purposefully conspiring to target him.
In a letter submitted to Green earlier this month by Gallager’s attorney, Tim Parlatore, it was noted that the rear admiral has only shown interest in holding a Trident Review Board tribunal for Gallager and not the others involved in the photo incident.
“The sole offense of conviction, posing in a photo, involved many members of his platoon, yet we have been told that you and others are conspiring to take the Trident of only one participant in that photo — the only one who has already been punished for this offense,” Parlatore wrote.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, he added that he believes Green’s move is motivated purely by a desire for “retaliation.” In the process of fighting the charges against him, his client stood up to the Navy’s top brass. And that apparently enraged them.
Learn more about the Navy SEAL’s possible expulsion below:
(Source: CBS News)
In another statement — this one to the Times — Parlatore argued that Green, who he identified as a “two-star admiral,” shouldn’t be interfering in the president’s “pardon.”
“The president has spoken on the punishment of Eddie Gallagher,” he argued. “A two-star admiral should not be stepping in to substitute the judgment of his commander in chief. This is a terrible precedent to send and the commander in chief should take swift and decisive action against Rear Adm. Green.”
He also aimed some criticism at Green’s superiors.
“As for those in his chain of command who appear to be supporting Green, there needs to be a wholesale change in leadership,” he said. “If Navy leadership can’t accept the commander in chief’s guidance, then they all should leave. There’s a long tradition in the military. You don’t rebel. You resign.”
Or you testify to Congress like Lt. Col. Vindman did Tuesday, and then hours later you watch in horror as all your talking points get blown to smithereens.
Regarding Green’s motivations, retired senior chief Eric Deming has theorized that the Navy’s top brass are trying to “rebuild” the lost trust of the American people.
“I think the leadership feels like they have lost the trust of the American people and want to rebuild it. So they are trying to show guys will be held accountable,” he said to The New York Times.
But he seemed surprised that they’d choose Gallagher as their veritable test subject.
“To have a commander remove that pin after a guy has gone through so much to earn it, it is pretty much the worst thing you could do. You are having your whole identity taken away. Why would they do it to someone like Gallagher?” he asked in befuddlement.
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