'Keep Your Mouth Shut': Retired General Shuts Down Republican Duncan Hunter's Defense of Alleged War Criminal

Retired Army Major General James A. "Spider" Marks told California Republican Duncan Hunter to "keep your mouth shut" Monday over his defense of an accused war criminal and former U.S. Navy SEAL.

Marks, who is a CNN military analyst, told host Brianna Keilar that Hunter, a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, should not be comparing his military service to the experience of former Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher. President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a pardon for Gallagher, who stands accused of murdering Iraqi civilians, including the shooting of an unarmed young girl and an elderly man between 2017 and 2018.

"I would say never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut," Marks responded on CNN Monday.

The retired major general said Hunter shouldn't have appeared on a recent podcast saying he "frankly [doesn't] care" if Gallagher is guilty of the Navy's 12 charges against him, including murder. Hunter compared his experience in combat, saying that as an artillery officer in Iraq his unit likely killed "hundreds" of civilians during his time fighting overseas.

Marks said that any two soldiers standing next to each other in combat can "see two very different things" in the midst of a chaotic battle or firefight. He added that Hunter's combat comparison is misguided because Gallagher's fellow officers have provided facts and evidence against him that should be heard in a trial.

"The congressman is trying to draw a comparison between his actions in combat— and God bless him for serving the nation honorably both in uniform and now in Congress—but he is comparing his actions in combat that have not been confirmed, these are his recollections; a biased view, we all have our own filters from combat."

Hunter penned a recent USA Today opinion piece saying Trump should pardon Gallagher because he can't receive a fair trial due to the "Navy's misconduct" in handling the case.

"So how do you judge me?" Hunter told Barstool Sports' Zero Blog Thirty podcast. "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. Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged too?"

"Spider" Marks criticized Hunter's brash approach and his attempt to circumvent the legal process by joining others such as Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth in encouraging Trump to pardon Gallagher.

"The congressman has come forward and said, 'look, should I be held accountable for these actions I took in combat'...relative to a SEAL who has been accused and is going through a legal process of having conducted war crimes,'" Marks said.

"The legal process needs to play itself out," he continued. "Granted, we could take this to the far end and say the president has great flexibility and discretion in order to pardon someone, but we are not at that point at all. The congressman should have remained quiet."

james spider marks cnn duncan hunter gallagher
Retired Maj. General James "Spider" Marks told Republican Duncan Hunter he should keep his mouth shut about an accused war criminal and former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.