Sean Gallagher: Possible pardons for my brother, others are about saving military justice, not upending it

The leak from a Pentagon staffer to the New York Times last Saturday about the president requesting pardon paperwork for soldiers, including my brother, was executed to perfection. Step 1: Send out of context info to a publication highly critical of the president. Step 2: Blast a slanted article accusing President Trump of meddling in the justice system. Step 3: Watch the media mob, and the president’s military critics go wild.

The reality is not one of these pundits, politicians or keyboard warriors knows any of the key details about the case of my brother, Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher. It doesn’t matter though. They’re happy to use men like Eddie, who has been consistently rewarded for gallantry, honor, and good conduct, as a political tool. Eddie’s 20 years of service, his combat record, his accolades – they don’t matter as long he can be used to criticize the president. This is how low our country has sunk.

The truth, if these critics would take a second to learn, is these potential pardons for soldiers, especially Eddie, are about saving the military justice system. Eddie’s case has been riddled with ethical lapses, prosecutorial misconduct, undue command influence, botched investigations, and politics. It has exposed something that our family has been shown time and time again for the past two years – the Uniformed Code of Military Justice is broken.

PLEA FROM A NAVY SEAL'S BROTHER: MR. PRESIDENT, THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TO FIX IT

Just this week, a motion’s hearing revealed the prosecutor in Eddie’s case lied to a judge about spying on our defense counsel, violating the 4th and 6th amendments to the Constitution. Since the start of Eddie’s case, prosecutors and NCIS illegally leaked negative information to the media to slander Eddie in the court of public opinion. Then, under the ruse of ascertaining the origin of the leaks (which they were clearly responsible for), they spied on Eddie’s defense team and the media – a journalist for the Navy Times.

Eddie’s case has now been postponed a second time, the Air Force is investigating the Navy, and there is a trial within a trial. It has become a clown show. The Navy’s top lawyer wrote a scathing letter expressing grave ethical concerns over Eddie’s case, stating the situation has become untenable and has reverberations about whether any soldier can expect to receive a fair trial under the UCMJ.

As if something like this incident wasn’t enough to boot Eddie’s case for good on its own, it comes after a slew of other equally damning actions by the government. NCIS and prosecutors have coerced false statements from Eddie’s platoon mates, withheld and suppressed exculpatory evidence from Eddie's defense team, wrongly confined him for eight months in a sex offender brig while denying him legal counsel and medical treatment – the list goes on and on.

And Eddie’s case isn’t alone. Major Matt Golsteyn, who may also potentially receive a pardon, has an equally absurd story. Matt was cleared of any violation by an Army panel in 2015, then a second investigation was done under the guise of ‘new evidence.’ The new evidence was the testimony of a man dishonorably discharged for drug abuse and whose statements changed multiple times. The CID agents who collected the evidence have since been fired for their own criminal behavior. One CID agent pleaded guilty to impersonating Matt, making false statements himself, and for stolen valor.

I could list example after example like Eddie and Matt’s cases that display how corrupt and broken the UCMJ has become. Of all the people shouting from the rooftops about meddling in the justice system, the president and his team are the only ones who know the details of these cases. They know the worst thing for the military right now is to let our case go to trial and for our lawyers to embarrass the Navy further by raking all the incompetent actors over the coals on a world stage for unethical, illegal and criminal behavior.

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Eddie’s best defense has always been the truth. I wish I could show you the evidence in Eddie’s case, like the video we were able to show members of Congress that exonerates Ed. I wish I could put you in touch with the half dozen witnesses who were at the scene of the supposed crime and say none of it happened, and how frustrated they are at Eddie’s treatment and this media frenzy. I also wish I could have folks walk a day in our shoes, to feel the anguish of watching navy lawyers and investigators conspire and villainize your brother, a man you know to your core is a legitimate war hero.

The president’s critics are quick to forget that he was elected as a reformer, to drain the swamp. By dismissing Eddie’s case before trial, he’s doing what few leaders are willing – take criticism for doing the right thing. By saving innocent soldiers from the clutches of a broken system, he is keeping his promise to our military and our country. In Eddie’s case, he is returning a warrior, an innocent man, back home to his family where he belongs.