Sunday, June 27, 2021

For your military justice bookshelf

Not beach reading, but retired U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward R. Gallagher has written a book about his court-martial. Excerpt from this article on

Gallagher said he considered the potential pain the procedure could cause the prisoner before allowing Victor [another SEAL] to attempt it. And he said he didn't have concerns about allowing Victor, who was not a medic, to try it, because there were two other medics by his side assisting and instructing him.

[Gary D.] Solis, a former Marine judge advocate, believes this action amounted to a confession of a war crime. The Geneva Conventions prohibit prisoners of war from being subjected to "medical or scientific experiments" that are not justified by the prisoner's medical needs, or carried out in his interest.

Solis also feels Gallagher's prosecutors badly bungled the case.

"Gallagher's 'medical treatment' of his prisoner constituted a grave breach of 1949 Geneva Convention I, Article 50, causing great suffering or serious bodily injury," he said in an email. "This includes 'exposure to useless and unnecessary suffering.' Though acquitted, Gallagher is a war criminal. I know an incompetent prosecution when I see it."

Gallagher denied that he or his platoon violated any laws of war by conducting the IO infusion, which was done at least in part to train Victor.

"It was being carried out in [the prisoner's] interest," he said. "He just happened to be dead at the time, or on his way out five to 10 seconds after [Victor] administered the IO. Every procedure that was done to him was valid, besides the [second] chest tube, which I don't know if that needed to be done or not. But every other procedure was valid."

The Geneva Convention provision referred to by LtCol Solis states:

Art. 50. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

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