Along with all sorts of items emblazoned with the logo “KILL BAD DUDES,” the site sells a “Waterboarding Instructor” shirt.
By Dave Phillips
The New York Times (12/31/19)
A year ago, Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was wearing drab prison scrubs at a brig near San Diego, facing murder charges that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life. Now he is modeling his own lifestyle clothing brand, endorsing nutrition supplements and positioning himself as a conservative influencer with close ties to the man who helped clear him — President Trump.
Chief Gallagher was acquitted this summer of charges that he shot at civilians and killed a wounded captive with a knife while serving as a platoon leader in Iraq. The punishment for his lone conviction — posing for a grisly trophy photo with the dead captive’s body — was reversed this fall by President Trump, who has repeatedly praised him. At a political rally in Florida, he called him “one of the ultimate fighters.”
In closed online forums, several of the SEALs from his old platoon who he had accused of not being able to meet his high standards noted derisively that the holographic sight on his rifle had been put on backward.
Now, Chief Gallagher is using his controversial past as a springboard to social media followers and branding opportunities. Beyond repping coffee beans and protein shakes, he is making appearances at influential conservative gatherings and rubbing elbows with Mr. Trump’s inner circle at Mar-a-Lago.
Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who has openly criticized Chief Gallagher, said that the square-jawed, blue-eyed SEAL has been a valuable political weapon for the Trump administration.
“Trump is a master of casting, and Gallagher is a perfect fit,” said Mr. Rieckhoff, who now hosts the Angry Americans podcast. “He’s handsome, he’s heroic, he’s got a beautiful wife. He’s a Rambo version of the same story Trump has been telling over and over: The deep state is trying to screw you, the media is bad, and the rich people don’t understand you. But I’ll stick up for you.”
The partnership is valuable for Chief Gallagher, too…
“Everything’s a grift today. Even, it seems, for pardoned war criminals.”
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )