US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has stated that in his opinion, a five-member Navy panel still needs review the SEAL status of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who was convicted due to misconduct, but later pardoned by US President Donald Trump.
"I believe the process matters for good order and discipline […] I think we have a process in place, which we're going forward with, and that's my job", Spencer said.
The Navy secretary’s remarks are not in tune with the recent statement by the US president, who has insisted that Gallagher will retain his status as a SEAL and slammed the handling of his case, arguing that it was incorrect from the start.
The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2019
Spencer admitted that POTUS can disregard any decision that the panel might take in regard to Gallagher, but still aims to go ahead with the chosen course of action.
"The commander in chief is the commander in chief [...] and he can do what he wants", he stated.
War Crime Accusations
Gallagher was stripped of his rank of chief officer after a court-martial found him guilty of posing in a photo with a dead Daesh* fighter, but acquitted him of murder during his deployment in Mosul, Iraq in 2017, which would have qualified as a war crime. The SEAL was recently restored to his previous rank by a clemency issued by President Trump, who criticised the case against him as well as two other US servicemen for actually killing enemies of the US.
POTUS' decision has reportedly caused a rift among US servicemen. Navy officials later notified Gallagher that his status as a SEAL may be reviewed by the panel on 5 December and that he could be stripped of the gold eagle Trident emblem worn by members of the elite unit.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia