Eddie Gallagher, Navy SEAL acquitted of murder, says posing with dead ISIS prisoner was "wrong"

For the first time, Gallagher tells his story about the wounded ISIS prisoner he was acquitted of stabbing to death. Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

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A Navy SEAL charged and acquitted of murdering an ISIS prisoner in 2017 speaks about the events that led to his court-martial for the first time in a 60 Minutes interview with David Martin. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher tells Martin he was wrong to pose for photos with the wounded prisoner, holding a knife to his neck and implying in a text he had killed the ISIS fighter. He called the incident "wrong" and "distasteful." He also tells Martin he had no sympathy for the enemy prisoner. Gallagher was convicted of posing with enemy dead to the detriment of good order and discipline for that photo and his case became a cause celebre when the president intervened on his behalf. His interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, March 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
 
"It's wrong. I'll say it's wrong now. And I've definitely learned… my lesson… It's distasteful," Gallagher says of the photo he had sent to a friend with the text "got him with my hunting knife." He denies that meant he stabbed the prisoner. "It was like a joke text, dark humor," he says. "I was trying to make it look tough… Yeah, I know how bad it looks when it gets out into the public, which it never was supposed to," he tells Martin. He says taking such pictures with the enemy is nothing new. "I'm pretty sure I'm the first person ever to go to a general court-martial for it, for taking a picture. It's been done on previous deployments." Asked by Martin whether he felt sorry for the young fighter, he replies, "No, that's war. He was trying to kill us."

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Gallagher and the dead ISIS prisoner in the photo he now calls "wrong" and "distasteful"

Fellow members of his platoon also posed for pictures with the prisoner. Two of them testified they saw Gallagher, their superior, stab the prisoner in the neck. Asked why his men would turn against him, he says he was hard on them and never took pity. "Told them they were acting like a bunch of cowards… and that's what really I think sparked them," Gallagher says.
 
One of those two accusers, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, told investigators he saw Gallagher plunge his knife into the prisoner's neck. But during the trial, Scott, who was granted immunity to testify, said under cross-examination that he had actually killed the prisoner by placing his thumb over a breathing tube inserted in the prisoner's neck.
 
Gallagher was convicted of posing for the photo but acquitted of murder. The Navy demoted him, but President Trump ordered his rank restored. When the Navy moved to strip him of his Trident Pin, the symbol of his elite status as a SEAL, the president intervened again.  Gallagher was allowed to retire as a SEAL. 
 
Media brought Gallagher to the president's attention before his trial and there were reports he might pardon him before a court-martial could convene. Gallagher says, "We didn't want a pardon. I wanted to go to trial… if I had been pardoned, I would have had that presumption of guilt the rest of my life."