Navy Seal Hero Edward Gallagher is My Brother. The Charges Against Him Couldn't Be Further from the Truth | Opinion

edward gallagher navy seal ISIS
Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher's lawyer said he would plead not guilty to all charges connected to the killing of a member of ISIS in Iraq during an arraignment hearing on Friday. Sean Gallagher

It's been said a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put on its shoes. Or, to use a more modern rendition of the phrase, fake news catches fire before the truth can be used to put it out. These phrases may seem impersonal, but what happens if the lie is about your loved ones? What happens if the liars have the backing of the federal government and the fake news they're spewing threatens to take down an American hero?

This is what's happening to my family right now, as the most untrue of allegations have been made, and the most sinister of tactics have been used to spread them.

My brother is Eddie Gallagher, a father of three and decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, now confined behind razor wire in military jail. He's served this country for nearly two decades and has always been the humble hero of our family. His accolades, even among the elite warriors he serves with, stand out: multiple awards for valor, good conduct, bravery, leadership—all given at an increasing pace over his experienced career. This upcoming spring, after twenty long years and eight combat tours, he was looking forward to hanging up his uniform and spending time with his family. If anyone has earned it, Eddie has.

But earlier this year—due to a mixture of ego, incompetence, and careerism, —what started out as the grumblings of a few disgruntled subordinates has turned into insane allegations of war crimes. Our family is now fighting the battle of our lives, pushing back against an onslaught of falsehoods and a pack of government lawyers hell-bent on "taking down" a Navy SEAL.

On his last deployment to Mosul, President Trump tasked Eddie and his platoon to clear ISIS from the Iraqi city, and they succeeded in that mission. There was intense combat, and as the leader, Eddie pushed his men hard. There were grinding days of continual firefights, clearing hostile territory, and dealing with one of the cruelest enemies in human history.

Eddie said some younger sailors in his platoon were weaker than others, began to break, and complained of being pushed too hard. They were new to the SEAL teams, had never seen combat, and didn't know the reality of the war they were tasked with fighting. They said Eddie took them on too many missions, exposed them to too much danger, risked their lives too easily.

So a small mutiny began.

Eddie reacted swiftly. He gathered the small crew of complainers, publicly reprimanded them, and benched them to the back lines. This was, after all, an elite fighting force, where men train relentlessly for years for the opportunity like this to fight terrorists. After being sequestered, Eddie allowed these junior sailors to rejoin the platoon, thinking they'd learned their lesson and start performing.

However, after being let back in, they never got over being rebuked. Being called cowards in combat is a career killer. You have to understand that in the SEAL teams, reputation is everything—you can imagine how important having confidence in the man next to you is during a firefight. These younger guys expected a bad review, knew their careers were at stake, and thus began to tell stories about Eddie's leadership and actions in combat. They figured if he were under investigation before he retired he couldn't stall or impact their careers.

And so just like that, a hellish process began to take shape. What started as trying to make complaints in-house to discredit Eddie turned into something much bigger than they expected. Investigators were involved now, and the process began snowball out of control.

Ed was notified he was under investigation months after returning home but naively assumed his command and investigators would see through the absurdity of what was being said. After all, the claims of this small group defied eyewitnesses, defied logic, and were downright outrageous.

Previously lauded for his level-headedness and steady leadership, they say Eddie suddenly, without reason, "became unhinged." Even though it would have been impossible for someone not to see, he went on shooting sprees. A superior marksman, Eddie suddenly couldn't tell that his rifle had been purposely tampered with by his own team-mates. Then, after performing life-saving maneuvers on a wounded ISIS fighter, Eddie, for no reason, killed him.

These accusations would be laughable—and were to him and our family—until for some crazy reason the Navy took them seriously.

Multiple—and I quite literally mean multiple—of Eddie's teammates on his last deployment deny all of what has been said about him. My brother will have a team of witnesses come to his side to refute all of these false charges. Even the Iraqi General serving with Eddie's platoon denies that the alleged events took place.

However, if you read the news or dare to venture into the cesspool of social media, my brother is apparently a lunatic. It's already over, according to the keyboard crusaders. In the court of public opinion, under the deluge clickbait articles taken straight from the government's mouth, the case is closed.

The most infuriating part of this whole charade for our family has been the actions of the Navy, in particular NCIS and Navy prosecutors.

From the beginning, it's been a coordinated smear campaign so they could make themselves look good by painting him as a monster. He takes prescribed pain medication for a damaged disc in his back, so they threw in a drug charge. He vented to friends about how this whole investigation is a farce; suddenly he's obstructing justice. Prosecutors actually had the gall to use a text message argument between him and his wife about leaving a movie theatre early to insinuate spousal abuse. These are the steps the prosecution is taking to grasp at anything—literally anything—to smear the name of a good man.

This tactic, of painting Eddie as a villain, is a playbook used by prosecutors time and again to distance themselves from responsibility, muddy the waters, and convince you emotionally that he must be guilty.

During the closing arguments of Eddie's probable cause hearing, the Navy prosecutor empathized with ISIS, saying Eddie is the reason they kill. He actually said those words, out loud, about a man who joined the service out of high school, has fought in every conflict since 9/11, has risked life and limb, and signed right back up to do it again and again for his country. Imagine for a second someone said brave WWII soldiers were the reason Hitler became a tyrant. The insanity of such statements should make your blood boil, and yet, Navy prosecutors are using your tax dollars to call a war hero a PR tool for ISIS.

If Eddie had died on this last deployment, which was something that almost happened, there would have been parades. His wife, two sons, daughter and I would have attended ceremonies and speeches, even from his accusers, about his bravery. But he survived and has come home to find himself the target of the very country he's fought to protect for decades.

In the brig, my brother, a man of incredible resolve, actually uttered the words, "It may have been better if they killed me over there. At least I knew who the enemy was."

It's been said a lie can travel around the world before the truth can put its shoes on. Well, our family has our shoes on now and we're suiting up for battle. From our viewpoint, Eddie has fought for us for twenty years. It's now our honor to fight for him. Join us.

Sean Gallagher is the brother of Eddie Gallagher. They are part of an extensive military family that includes their father, a West Point graduate and retired Lieutenant Colonel, two uncles who were naval aviators and three grandparents who served in the Navy during World War II.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​