Navy SEAL Leader Accused Of War Crimes Threatens Defamation Suit Against NY Times Reporter For Revealing Videos & Text Of Men Who Reported Him

from the that's-not-how-any-of-this-works dept

The NY Times recently published quite a story, sharing videos and text messages of various Navy SEALs who had reported to officials their concerns with Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher was then put on trial for war crimes and mostly acquitted last summer. The one charge he was convicted for resulted in a demotion and a confinement sentence, but President Trump stepped in and reversed that decision, leading to some turmoil within the military, as many leaders were not at all happy about what former Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer (who was fired over all of this) called "shocking and unprecedented interference." Other long term military officials also found the decision shocking.

The NY Times report shows Navy investigators interviewing a number of Navy SEALs whom Gallagher commanded, revealing some of their concerns about Gallagher, with quite a few striking quotes. For example:

“The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator Miller told investigators. “The guy was toxic,” Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. “You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.

[....]

Asked whether the chief had a bias against Middle Eastern people, Special Operator Scott replied, “I think he just wants to kill anybody he can.”

There are more quotes in the piece. Gallagher has insisted that the SEALs in his command who reported him were "disgruntled" SEALs who, according to the NY Times report "could not meet his high standards and wanted to force him out." However, the Times report also reveals text messages between the men as they prepared for this, and it suggested a fairly different story as they repeatedly reminded each other to just tell the truth -- and even acknowledged that any embellishment would harm what they were trying to do:

“Tell the truth, don’t lie or embellish,” one sniper who is now in SEAL Team 6 told the others in a group text in 2017, when they first tried to report the chief. “That way, he can’t say that we slandered him in any way.”

But... Gallagher is now claiming defamation. Just... that his lawyer claims he'll be suing the reporter Dave Philipps for this story:

But Tim Parlatore, Gallagher's lawyer, said the Times "cherry-picked" footage, ignoring his client's side of the story. "Fake reporting" is how Parlatore described it Friday.

"We're filing a lawsuit against Dave Philipps," Parlatore said, referring to The New York Times reporter behind the story.

If that actually comes to pass, it will almost certainly fail. It has all the hallmarks of a SLAPP suit. Philipps' reporting clearly is showing what these men said about Gallagher. If Gallagher believes they are lying, he could sue them for defamation (also unlikely to succeed), but to sue the reporter for sharing the details seems incredibly cowardly. It looks like little more than an attempt to create a chilling effect and to intimidate others who are reporting on what the men who served with Gallagher have to say.

Of course, without a strong federal anti-SLAPP law, and with many states having very weak anti-SLAPP laws, any such lawsuit could still cause quite a hassle for Philipps. For what it's worth, Philipps even has a statement from Gallagher in his piece (which is certainly not required, but shows that he did even more due diligence than was necessary to make sure he got Gallagher's side of the story). Gallagher (and his lawyer) seem to think they can sue over the fact that they don't like the way that Philipps put the entire piece together and left out some of the things they wanted included:

"I've sent him so many things to make sure that he tries to get the story right, and he just willfully ignores it and refuses to print any retractions," Parlatore said. "... He has really crossed the line on this thing."

But... that's not how defamation works at all. You don't get to dictate what the press says about you. You don't get to demand that they only cover things the way you want or to portray the facts only in ways that you approve of. It is notable, of course, that not once do Gallagher's lawyers cite a single factual statement that he says is defamatory. The only argument he makes is that Philipps didn't do more to highlight that Gallagher was acquitted of all but one of the charges:

The SEALs' initial claims about Gallagher didn't hold up in court, Parlatore said, and the Times didn't do enough to convey that in its coverage....

[....]

"This is the very bedrock of our Constitution, that people have to have the right to face their accuser in court," Parlatore said. "What Dave Philipps is asking everybody to do is to ignore the fact that Eddie Gallagher exercised his constitutional rights, faced his accusers in court, poked holes in their stories -- ignore all of that and go back to the initial videos."

Except, Philipps' piece is a news article, not a court of law, so Parlatore's statement about "the right to face their accuser" is meaningless. The article was about the previously unseen video footage of the folks who were upset about Gallagher actions. And the piece does, in fact, highlight the acquittal, stating:

Chief Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in July of all but a single relatively minor charge, and was cleared of all punishment in November by Mr. Trump.

And later it quotes Parlatore responding to the videos:

Chief Gallagher’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said the video interviews were rife with inconsistencies and falsehoods that created “a clear road map to the acquittal.”

So, uh, what exactly is he complaining about? It's not defamation. It's not even leaving stuff out. Because the things he claims were left out are in there. This is bluster and bullshit and if it turns into a lawsuit, it's one that will end poorly for Gallagher.

Filed Under: dave philipps, defamation, donald trump, ed gallagher, eddie gallagher, navy seal, slapp, tim parlatore, war crimes
Companies: ny times


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 10:52am

    Upholding only the highest of military standards

    Cowardly for going after the reporter, petulant for whining that they didn't report how he wanted them to, and thuggish in pretty clearly trying to send the message that talking to reporters about him will not go well.

    Gotta say, he's certainly honoring the uniform and those that wear it with his actions, I'm sure others in uniform are just thrilled about the image he's presenting of those that wear it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 11:59am

      Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

      Equally worrying is Trumps intercession, as it shows what he values...

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      • identicon
        David, 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

        Trump dodged the draft by claiming "bone spurs". He really should not be the one overturning decisions about right and wrong by people who honestly served.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

          Why not? Military service doesn't make you an authority on right and wrong, any more than being elected president does.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:45am

          Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

          Sorry, friend. Much as we may dislike it, "Commander in Chief" is one of the hats that comes with the position . "Should" really doesn't come into it. And Trump is neither the first nor will be the last to lack military qualifications in that office.

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          • icon
            Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

            [Sad but True]

            That said, I've not seen a president ignore the recommendations of his chief officers before. They usually take them on board. Trump is going out of his way to alienate them.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military stand

              That said, I've not seen a president ignore the recommendations of his chief officers before.

              Where were you during the Obama administration?!?

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            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military stand

              "I've not seen a president ignore the recommendations of his chief officers before."

              George W Bush Jr.

              Known to ignore every last one in the military. Except for Rumsfeld who most of the US armed forces considered a farcical joke.

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              • icon
                Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military s

                Ah, right. Okay, I didn't know.

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                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of milita

                  "Okay, I didn't know."

                  Not too surprising. Trump is bluntly inept - he simply fires everyone who dares offer a dissenting view. The toxicity is obvious and manifest.

                  GWB on the other hand, was the attempt by the neoconservatives to grab power. Rumsfeld and Cheney brought their own stooges and pressured, rather than sacked, dissenters (there's a not-so-funny story on how they got the CIA to produce the yellowcake reports after the agency had repeatedly stated they couldn't find any suggestion that Iraq was developing WMD's).

                  As a result although the military wasn't happy at all, the only venue of reporting that was by resigning and holding a press conference as to why. A few did.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2020 @ 10:27am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of mi

                    Iraq had tons of anthrax. Guess who sold them that. Anthrax is the wmd they had to find.

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                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 3:17am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest o

                      "Iraq had tons of anthrax. Guess who sold them that. Anthrax is the wmd they had to find."

                      Well, not exactly. The US (courtesy of Rumsfeld) did sell both chemical and biological agents to Saddam back in the 80's...
                      ...but they couldn't very well say "Look, we know Saddam has the stuff we sold him..uhh...and that's bad, now".

                      So instead they went all the way into spinning a fairy story out of whole cloth and basically lied to the entire world about Iraq's presumed Nuclear deployment.

                      What is truly ironic here is that no one today knows whether the bio-agents were destroyed, sold on, or are still sitting around in some place no one knows about.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2020 @ 9:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military stand

              It's been a recurring theme of Trump's presidency to throw away any historical customs that are not formally codified in law, if they're inconvenient. Future laws will need to be written so as to leave less discretion.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 6:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

            Pretty sad when The Commander in Chief berates those who serve, treats them like mercenaries and ridicules the families of those killed in action.
            What has donny done to our service member's self esteem and why should they continue to serve? This does not bode well for the volunteer army.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:24pm

        You can tell a lot about someone by who they admire/protect

        Which only gets worse when you read just how involved he apparently was.

        From the Newsweek article:

        The president intervened on Gallagher's behalf at multiple points in the court martial process, first ordering Gallagher release from pre-trial detention despite, as McCaffrey noted, allegations that Gallagher had threatened to have witnesses killed. Gallagher was demoted in July after the military court found him guilty of conduct unbecoming related to a photo he staged with the body of an ISIS fighter.

        In November, as the Navy prepared to review Gallagher's status, Trump ordered the branch to restore his rank and publicly forbid commanding officers from discharging him. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer was forced to resign after he tried to negotiate a backchannel deal with the White House regarding Gallagher's fate.

        Someone who used the corpse of an enemy for a staged photo, that was the sort of person that Trump was dedicated to protecting, even if it meant slapping the military across the face by interfering with their investigation and detainment of someone accused of some pretty nasty stuff.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 10:42am

        Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

        If Iran had just assassinated a US General, it would be an Act of War.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 11:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

          Do you imply this was not?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2020 @ 1:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Upholding only the highest of military standards

            United States have been in more wars without actually declaring war than any other country in the world in the history of the world. Of course to anyone with half a brain this is a declaration of war, just not to the country who has initiated it.. again.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:28pm

    The times should force this to trial.
    It will then be able to present proof of all the allegations.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:56pm

      Re:

      As far as I can tell they already have, as he's throwing his tantrum not on what they said(none of which he apparently refutes), but merely on the fact that they didn't write the article based upon how he wanted it.

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  • icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 12:29pm

    Defending his honor and selling shit

    Has a web site up selling war crime profiteering stuff.

    Gotta think like a Republican, aka get the (suckers') cash.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 1:03pm

    He may be back, but back at what?

    Trump may have restored his rank and ditched the conviction, but I wonder if his commanders will ever send him into the field again, or just put him on KP someplace, without a weapon?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:19am

      Re: He may be back, but back at what?

      I read that accepting a pardon implies your confession of guilt, is this not the case?

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  • icon
    Tim R (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 1:06pm

    "You don't get to dictate what the press says about you. You don't get to demand that they only cover things the way you want or to portray the facts only in ways that you approve of."

    Yeah, who does he think he is, the federal government?

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  • identicon
    Eric, 2 Jan 2020 @ 1:43pm

    "Fake" Anything

    Anytime I see "Fake News" or "Fake <insert report type here>" I automatically assume the speaker is an idiot and completely ignore them. The same goes for this lawyer. He's doing a disservice to his client, but hey at least he's getting paid I guess. That's all that matters to most lawyers, especially the slimy ones.

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    • identicon
      David, 2 Jan 2020 @ 2:35pm

      Re: "Fake" Anything

      Anytime I see "Fake News" or "Fake <insert report type here>" I automatically assume the speaker is an idiot and completely ignore them.

      You will have to stop ignoring them once they are through McConnell's judicial nomination machine (formerly known as the Senate, but the Do-Nothing Republicans refuse even debating laws coming from the House).

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 4:31pm

      Re: "Fake" Anything

      If all lawsuits fail, maybe he'll resort to what he does best.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 2:29pm

    I didn't follow the trial but if he was acquitted of everything but taking an inappropriate picture I will assume there was a good reason to acquit him.

    I don't see any great harm in taking that inappropriate picture even if it seems distasteful.

    I doubt he'll win against the paper though.

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    • icon
      deadspatula (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 2:50pm

      Re:

      There is a somewhat good reason he was acquitted. It took years after team members reported his conduct for the investigators to actually collect evidence. There wasn't appropriate retention of evidence that existed at the time of the reports. The only clear evidence was the photo found deep in a social media profile. The photo was, from the perspective of military justice, contrary to the mission and goals of the armed forces in the area. Which is why conduct unbecoming is a crime under the UCMJ.

      The harm is from a military perspective. It breeds dissent and animosity between the locals and the visiting (or occupying) military. This type of behavior seeds terrorist sympathies and has been shown to lead to radicalization, which leads to more danger in the local area as well as abroad. It also highlights questions about decision-making critical for a leader of an elite special forces team. Much as in business, a leader with bad decision making skills should be demoted or removed, taking a wider view both of the harm done and the likelyhood of harm being committed in the future, someone in the chain of command displaying poor decision making is often not long for that position, the decision to demote or remove having to do with the potential for much greater harm if left in that position.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:50am

        Re: Re:

        It took years after team members reported his conduct for the investigators to actually collect evidence.

        There's your problem right there!

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    • identicon
      David, 2 Jan 2020 @ 3:36pm

      Re:

      I don't see any great harm in taking that inappropriate picture even if it seems distasteful.

      It's not a good idea to fight in a manner where the only thing distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys are the flags and uniforms because then potential allies will decide about their allegiance based on the flags and uniforms.

      Part of the reason the U.S. had to abandon Vietnam was that they had become indistinguishable from the bad guys in the eyes of both the local and U.S. populace, and also in the eyes of the world.

      Things like the My Lai massacre obliterated any pretense at moral superiority the U.S. had been able to entertain.

      One lesson the U.S. learnt the hard way and at the loss of many lives with nothing to show for it was that the military upper hand does not make for lasting victories without the moral upper hand.

      Killing people for game and trophy like Gallagher did sabotages and nullifies the sacrifices of his comrades.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 2 Jan 2020 @ 3:41pm

        the military upper hand does not make for lasting victories without the moral upper hand

        Did America have a moral upper hand before or after it dropped two nuclear weapons on Japan?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 4:32pm

          Re:

          Before

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        • identicon
          Rocky, 2 Jan 2020 @ 4:44pm

          Hmm..

          If you look at the reason WHY they dropped the bombs it was the calculation that more people would die if they didn't drop them.

          If an action results in less deaths than the alternative you could argue it's the morally right one to make even if the method may be reprehensible.

          At the time of the bombing I would say that the US had the moral upper hand if you weigh all the relevant facts as known then, especially considering Japan's armed forces mentality to fight to the last man regardless of the odds.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 6:17pm

            Re: Hmm..

            And yet they continued to firebomb the fuck out of the civilian populace afterwards. I guess it was just Dresden-for-kicks again, since the atom bombs worked so well.

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            • identicon
              Rocky, 2 Jan 2020 @ 7:17pm

              Re: Re: Hmm..

              The USAAF ran a huge strategic bombing run on 14th of August 1945 during which Japans surrender wasn't yet a done deal (mostly because of their stalling of negotiations the week before). During that bombing run two targets where firebombed, the cities of Isesaki and Kumagaya - both having questionable strategic value at this time. All other targets during that operation where precision bombed.

              If you want to classify that as "firebomb the fuck out of the civilian population", go ahead - but it doesn't fit the historical record no matter how distasteful you might find firebombing to be.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 10:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                Firebombing distasteful? Women and children firebombed the fuck out of? It was a chicken shit way to win a war.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 11:18pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  How does a nation who is just going to firebomb its enemy's women and children look to the rest of the world? I hope we are past that type of strategy now.

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                  • icon
                    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:14am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    You're not.

                    And, sad to say, the UK is no better. We're arming the bastards who do this kind of thing.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 7:03am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                      "We're arming the bastards who do this kind of thing."

                      At some point the people say - No, that was not me - the government lied.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 1:38am

            Re: Hmm..

            "If an action results in less deaths than the alternative you could argue it's the morally right one to make even if the method may be reprehensible."

            Quick question here. Assuming the calculation was "either 500000 people die from the armed forces on either side...or we slaughter 250000 unarmed civilians, more than half of whom are women and children".

            Now tell me again where the "moral" choice lies.

            The problem is that the US calculation assumed that the use of the nuclear bomb as a terror weapon causing the majority of the damage on civilians was an acceptable compromise.

            Congratulations. your argument, if it stands, just provided Al-quaeda with moral validity for 9/11.

            And THAT is why you can only make a moral comparison of harm when what you compare contains the lives of military - who are, on both sides, armed and willing to shoulder the risk of dying in battle.

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            • icon
              blademan9999 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:10am

              Re: Re: Hmm..

              500,000? Try 5,000,000+.
              https://i.redd.it/gh503x1x2vo21.jpg
              The Japanese were training CHILDREN on how to use BAMBOO SPEARS, in preperation for an anticipated American attack.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyūjō_incident
              Even AFTER the dropping of the two atomic bombs there were still Japnese officers willing to carry out a coup to prevent Japan's surrender.

              Even in August 1945 the IJA still occupied significant areas of the Mainland where they were still carrying out attrocities against the local civilain populations.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 7:31am

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                "The Japanese were training CHILDREN on how to use BAMBOO SPEARS, in preperation for an anticipated American attack."

                So in other words if in the US parents teach their children to handle guns those children should be considered combatants?

                "Even AFTER the dropping of the two atomic bombs there were still Japnese officers willing to carry out a coup to prevent Japan's surrender."

                I'm still not seeing the part where this justifies annihilating a civilian city population in a massive terror attack.

                "Even in August 1945 the IJA still occupied significant areas of the Mainland where they were still carrying out attrocities against the local civilain populations."

                so to make a comparison, because of the seal captain named in the OP and Abu Ghraib Al Quaeda has a moral argument for blowing up a US building full of citizens, you mean?

                You want to be careful about defending the US use of the atom bomb because at the end of that logic you'll find that you've just given moral authority to Bin Laden.

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            • identicon
              Rocky, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:44am

              Re: Re: Hmm..

              Japan still had 2 million soldiers on the mainland. Without the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the invasion of Japan would have been an extremely bloody affair with casualties in the millions, BOTH civilian and military. Go read up on what happened on Okinawa and you'll understand one of the reasons they dropped the bombs.

              Now tell me what you would do, keep a war going for a couple of years more where millions on both side will die or try to finish it off quickly?

              It's easy to talk about "moral" choices when you don't have to make one.

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              • identicon
                bob, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                The Netflix show Greatest Events of WW2 in colour has a good episode, number 10, about Hiroshima and the bombs. Good way to learn about the event and some of the aftermath.

                https://www.netflix.com/title/80989924?s=a&trkid=13747225&t=cp

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:06am

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                "Without the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the invasion of Japan would have been an extremely bloody affair with casualties in the millions, BOTH civilian and military."

                Half a million dead civilians, as a result of direct military action in a terror attack...
                ...because of <insert whataboutist justification here>.

                "Now tell me what you would do, keep a war going for a couple of years more where millions on both side will die or try to finish it off quickly?"

                That one's easy. I'd look for any solution which did not include my own side ordering and carrying out actual genocide. If you allow the criminal to make you similar to them, you've lost - or at least that's the basis as to why we can call suicide bombers trying to retaliate against armed action "terrorists" to begin with, rather than "righteous freedom fighters".

                But I'll make it even easier for you:

                • The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):

                "Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

                • Dwight Eisenhower;
                  "The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

                • Admiral William Leahy – the highest ranking member of the U.S. military from 1942 until retiring in 1949, who was the first de facto Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who was at the center of all major American military decisions in World War II – wrote:

                "It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons."

                • General Douglas MacArthur:
                  "…. When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb."

                Bluntly put the US keeps telling itself that there was justification for dropping the bombs - and that "justification" is a lie from start to finish. Everyone within the US high command was agreed that the war against japan was finished.

                The nuke was completely unnecessary.
                Except as a political gesture for intimidating the soviet union.

                Even had it been otherwise, however, At the end of the day what you are saying is that terrorism is morally defensible as long as a possibility exists that the opposing side will kill more civilians than you will be slaughtering. I think anyone capable of making that decision is a psychotic I would never want as a leader.

                "It's easy to talk about "moral" choices when you don't have to make one."

                No. It's always going to be easy to choose not to commit dictionary-definition genocide and then try to defend it as the moral choice. There are a lot of reasons why what you describe counts as a war crime - and ironically most of those reasons were established and logically upheld by american courts.

                And when your "justification" vanishes into thin air - the myth that the US "had little choice" - what we're left with is a tasteless denial of reality. The US nuked japan without a single good reason to do so.
                Own it.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  As an addendum to the above; The 20th century held a frightening disregard for human life in general and this is exemplified not only by the nazi and soviet genocides and pogroms but also in the allies heavy use of firebombs over civilian populations.

                  The problem is that even if both sides used genocidal tactics, one of those sides is today blindly upheld as heroic.

                  And that's just wrong. Yes, the nazis had to be stopped. But there's plenty of historical arguments suggesting that WW2 rapidly devolved into a no-holds-barred brawl between thugs who didn't give a shit about the moral dimension of civilian casualties.

                  The aforementioned army of japanese soldiers still stationed on the mainland might have committed atrocities against civilians but there's not a single actor among the allies who would have given much of a shit when it came to using that as a justification of military strategy.

                  In the end the US dropped the bomb out of a combination of two main objectives - that it would force the japanese to a faster unconditional capitulation than it would by simply having gunboats shelling them into dust, and that it would bring the war to an end sooner, putting an end to wartime expenditure.

                  Some say it was all about intimidating the russians. No doubt that was a point as well, but it's unlikely that was the primary reason.

                  At the end of the day the most compelling argument I can think of is this - the US had spent a lot to build the bomb and the politicians simply didn't want to put it back into storage without dropping it on someone.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    Confirmed correct. The idea of bombing civilians was to demoralise the enemy. There was no other reason for it and it didn't even work.

                    My understanding is the nukes were dropped to see what would happen to people on the ground. Our stupid government is still pushing the MAD (mutually assured destruction) line to renew Trident. It's basically willy-waving, there's no strategic reason for it in a world where warfare has changed from the old army V army model. It's difficult to tell who the enemy actually is most of the time.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2020 @ 3:33am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                      Its hard to tell who the enemy is sometime.

                      I couldn't agree more. It is technology that has enabled a single very small group of people to unleash a catastophic amount of damage anywhere in the world. Also there is undetectable weaponry that can inflict mass casualties. Radiowaves, microwaves, particle beams, of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention biological and chemical weapons that can fit in someone's back pocket. It is a wonder at this point that we haven't all been anhilated already.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Rocky, 3 Jan 2020 @ 12:01pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  You are arguing your point from what we know now, now put yourself in the shoes of Truman and what he knew at the time. It's easy to condemn an action in hindsight when you know the outcome and it's repercussions.

                  The references you make above is all information collated AFTER the surrender which can't affect a decision made before that.

                  And don't use that "what you are saying" shit on me, just because you can't look at a historical event from a factual viewpoint based on what they (Truman) knew at the time doesn't mean I can, which I actually said in my original post.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:34pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    The bombs should have then been detonated above Japanese fleet, not civilian populations. This is the unGodly horror committed by the leaders of the US that will live in infamy.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Rocky, 4 Jan 2020 @ 7:27am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                      What Japanese fleet? There where no functional effective Japanese fleet at this point.

                      And you are also arguing from hindsight.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 8:02am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                        Well, I wish the US had never dropped those nuclear bombs on those cities.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Rocky, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:13pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                          If wishes where fishes we'd all swim in riches...

                          I think any sane person would wish those bombs where never dropped, which is why Truman agonized over the decision to drop them but from what I gather he really never regretted using them although he regretted that so many civilians died.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2020 @ 10:05am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                            We don't know these people from our country. We are just poking at mnms floating by. If he agonized, he should have waited. He should have stopped to consider if the shoe was on the other foot.. what would melted women and children look like in our own country if Japan had the bomb. I am sick to death covering for these acts of these people in power. These governments all over the world have more responsibility to mankind.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:42am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    "You are arguing your point from what we know now, now put yourself in the shoes of Truman and what he knew at the time. It's easy to condemn an action in hindsight when you know the outcome and it's repercussions."

                    All of what I said was what Truman knew at the time.

                    In short, everyone with the authority and expected ability to make the judgment call was agreed that Japan was already at the brink.

                    "The references you make above is all information collated AFTER the surrender which can't affect a decision made before that."

                    Nope. They knew all of the facts at the time when Truman had to make the decision.

                    "just because you can't look at a historical event from a factual viewpoint based on what they (Truman) knew at the time doesn't mean I can, which I actually said in my original post."

                    And the point is STILL that Truman's administration was in full knowledge of the fact that Japan was already beaten when they made the decision to drop the bombs. There's just no getting around that fact - even if there's always been a massive effort to whitewash the decision.

                    Here's the thing. In 1945 human lives were cheap. The US command deliberately chose to include civilians as primary targets not just for hiroshima and nagasaki, but also for the dresden firebombing and numerous other examples in the war.

                    Americans and europeans alike need to get the facts straight - that their "greatest generation" had almost as little respect for the sanctity of human life as the nazis. TODAY we use a higher standard of morals to determine who the guy in the white hat is, and that makes it a lot more important to know that the "heroes" of the ast were anything but.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 9:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                LET wars be fought by soldiers and commanders and the Chief. Do not use the civilian population of elderly, women and children as strategic targets to dishearten the enemy. WWIII is coming.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 3:26pm

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                Now tell me what you would do, keep a war going for a couple of years more where millions on both side will die or try to finish it off quickly?
                It's easy to talk about "moral" choices when you don't have to make one.

                So, expediency trumps morality?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:46am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  "So, expediency trumps morality?"

                  That was basically the bottom line in 1945. The Allies had almost as shitty a view on the sanctity of human life as the Axis. No one gave a rat's ass about the civilians of the "other" side.

                  I think it's important as hell for both americans and europeans to realize that the "greatest generation" may have fought a necessary war but they did so using tactics and strategies we would today condemn as terrorism and mass murder.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 11:52am

              Re: Re: Hmm..

              If you had just fought the battle of Okinawa, use of the atomic bombs would look a reasonable way to vastly reduce overall casualties. About half the civilians on the island died in that invasion.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 2:28pm

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                No, I would not have been trained to think like you are suggesting. I would have fought Japanese soldiers in Okinawa not women and children in your example.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:41pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  Who put women and children into the fighting, it was not the Americans. What would you have done when attacked by children? How would you have dealt with an enemy that ruthless? Hint a siege would have been as bad for civilians.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:46am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    I have never put a woman or child in my sight. I guess you have. You should answer your own question.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 5:26am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                      I have never had a human in my sights, but the US soldiers were placed in a position by the Japanese where they could kill or be killed. Just follow the link to the history of the Battle of Okinawa above. Japanese fanaticism, rather than US intent led to the horrific casualties.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 8:05am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                        That's one flaw about the history we read in books. They were written by the winners of war.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:51am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                    "Who put women and children into the fighting, it was not the Americans. What would you have done when attacked by children? How would you have dealt with an enemy that ruthless? Hint a siege would have been as bad for civilians."

                    Much easier to just murder every civilian in the area by dropping a few nukes. Which is the decision which was made.

                    And could you please stop repeating the long-debunked lie that Japan could still cause massive casualties in the war? We know for a fact (as did Truman at the time he made the decision to nuke) that Japan had nothing left. The battle of okinawa was basically the last hurrah of imperial japan.

                    Except possibly women and children using bamboo spears. I must say as "justifications" go, that's the worst one yet.

                    The US strategy, taking into consideration what was known at the time and now, relied on first grinding the Japanese military into dust, and only then drop two nukes on mainly civilian targets to bring the point home.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 6:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                  Oh god paragon shepard is telling everyone how he would throw himself into the pit to make a example lol

                  Are you for real man? Even by internet standards this is weak.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:56pm

                Re: Re: Re: Hmm..

                Precisely. The US has just barely run out of Purple Hearts minted in anticipation of the casualty toll for a main island invasion.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Re:

        The other side of the Vietnam war did the Cambodian genocide shortly after we left. Don't assume we were the worse side in that war.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 6:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, this isn't the olympics of evil. They all are top notch at evil shit behaviour.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That wasn't the point. The point is that the U.S. sanctified genocide by performing indiscriminate massacres on civilians. Not all of them, but certainly enough and systematically enough (and with blessings from command) that nobody wanted the U.S. to stay and continue teaching people about their standards.

          This was different from what they did in Germany, presumably because the common heritage and ethnic similarity made it easier to empathise. It was not as easy to polarise on fighting "Tommy" or "the chinks" or whatever.

          And Germany was a way more successful operation in the long run.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          blademan9999 (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 4:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is flat out false, the "other side of the Vietnam war" ENDED the Cambodian genocide.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The other side of the Vietnam war did the Cambodian genocide shortly after we left. Don't assume we were the worse side in that war.

          Not quite. In fact, it was Vietnam that put an end to it, if memory serves.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The groups that fought the US presence then committed the Cambodian genocide, then fought about the Cambodian genocide, and then fought some more after the US left.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              and then rambo had to go over there and straighten them all out.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:58am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The groups that fought the US presence then committed the Cambodian genocide, then fought about the Cambodian genocide, and then fought some more after the US left."

              ...you need to read up on the concept of "countries".

              Last I checked Cambodia wasn't Vietnam and the Viet Cong wasn't the Khmer Rogue.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jan 2020 @ 4:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The other side of the Vietnam war did the Cambodian genocide shortly after we left."

          The US wasn't at war with Cambodia and cheerfully stayed out of war with them while their genocide was going strong. You were at war with Vietnam and the Cambodians naturally didn't give a shit whether you had a presence in vietnam or not.

          "The other side" of the vietnam war was the Viet Cong who were, in fact, vietnamese. Your argument makes no sense.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:11am

      Re:

      I don't see any great harm in taking that inappropriate picture even if it seems distasteful.

      It makes the military look awful. Unprofessional, prone to abusing... All The Things. That's why they stamp on this kind of thing.

      I doubt he'll win against the paper though.

      He won't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 5:07pm

    Meet Deputy Gallagher, the newest member of your local sheriff department. More stories to follow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 6:17am

      Re:

      Alas, I can see that. And, worse of all, the local mouth-breathers will be cheering him on, voting him back in again and again like Arpaio.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Robert Beckman, 2 Jan 2020 @ 5:44pm

    Admirals Gestapo

    Setting aside the veracity of these specific accusations, or the propriety of the entire affair, it’s important that we remember the rest of the context of both military justice in general (which is great) and the machinations of Admirals.

    In the Navy there are three groups (with overlap): the master at arms aboard a ship, the shore patrol (directly analogous to military police), and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services. Unlike the first two which form the day to day law enforcement teams (and will swap servicemen as their duty stations move - the difference is in the practicalities of the location - land or at sea - rather than the role or responsib8lities), the NCIS is more analogous to the FBI...... under J. Edgar Hoover.....

    Within many groups the NCIS is referred to as the Admirals Gestapo, as it’s the group used extensively by one Admiral to spy out the peccadillos of another for political advantage. To give an example - and I’m not saying this happened in Gallagher’s case, just that we can’t tell them apart easily - the NCIS spent $75M in the 1980s investigating the founder of Seal Team Six for having exposed their base security as pitifully laughable - for example by “hijacking” nuclear submarines in port and gaining their nuclear launch codes, stealing tactical cruise missiles from naval bases, and leaving President Reagan a note on Air Force One - while he was in it - without the Secret Service detecting them. That was the teams explicit job - to act as smart adversaries to ferret out the weaknesses in military security, as as a result the NCIS spent $75M trying to find something wrong with their commander. He eventually was convicted of improperly paying $50k for services rendered by a company he was a part owner in (services no other company in the world offered at the time, since it was founded by a group of prior SEALs) and spent a year in Leavenworth for it. Keep in mind this was a person regularly carrying millions in unmarked cash all over the world, and he’s busted for essentially a $50k self dealing when no one else could have fulfilled such a bid.

    So when I see that Gallagher was charged with a bunch, only convicted of an improper photo (which I agree does bring the military into disrepute..... but only if it’s publicized) I’m awefully suspicious that this was a reasonable prosecution rather than a hit job because he upset someone in the Annapolis fraternity.

    All that said, I’d still rather be tried in a Courts Martial than a civilian court on just about anything. There’s comparatively a lot less railroading possible, and judges tend to let more exculpatory evidence in - not that I’d want to be bound by the UCMJ, just that I’d prefer to be tried under military rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2020 @ 6:28pm

      Re: Admirals Gestapo

      While military command is always suspect, i find the mere fact that members of the military consistently felt, over a prolonged period, that one of their own goes too far in his job at massmurder, inc., indicates that there was a bit of a problem.

      He's the same sort of smarmy asshole who would call any other member of the military, who suspected any of the wars post-2k1 to be bullshit, "not a true warrior".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 12:11am

    War is hell baby, welcome to the Nam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mcherm (profile), 3 Jan 2020 @ 5:53am

    to sue the reporter for sharing the details seems incredibly cowardly

    I disagree completely. To sue a party who might be unable to afford to mount a defense might well be the cowardly approach, but to sue someone who will be protected by the legal team at the New York Times may be foolhardy, even stupid, but cannot be called "cowardly".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2020 @ 8:28am

      Re:

      "We're filing a lawsuit against Dave Philipps"

      He's suing an individual reporter, not the NY times. That's cowardly. But what else could be expected from such an individual?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dr evil, 3 Jan 2020 @ 10:14am

    This one wonders...

    Is there a possibility to SLAPP back?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 3 Jan 2020 @ 5:32pm

    Trump Fan: He wasn't found guilty of any of the serious crimes he was accused of, therefore that means that he is 100% innocent of any wrongdoing. The fact that he was convicted of posing for a photo with a dead body is such a trivial matter than they never should have wasted time on a trial. This guy is a shining example of what our soldiers should be and all the vile, evil people trying to take away this hero's rank should burn in hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 2:50am

      Re:

      Easy Billy, I thought the US was fighting for the freedom of all of us, even those you are so hostile against because of your opinions differing. Burn in hell is not an evil wish?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 4 Jan 2020 @ 8:18am

        Re: Re:

        There is a non-trivial difference between starting a posting with "Trump fan:" and "Trump fan here:". Guess which of the two implies a sarcasm tag.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 8:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          OOHhhh.. Got it!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rekrul, 8 Jan 2020 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There is a non-trivial difference between starting a posting with "Trump fan:" and "Trump fan here:". Guess which of the two implies a sarcasm tag.

          You're correct that it wasn't meant to be my opinion that I posted, however I'm not sure how much it was sarcasm. Many people actually feel this way.

          I have a friend who uses what a court decides as the gold standard for whether a person has done any wrong. In Gallagher's case, it doesn't matter what his men say, it doesn't matter what evidence there was, all that matters to him is that he wasn't convicted of any of the other crimes, which to him, means that he's completely innocent. The ONLY thing he did wrong was posing with the dead body, and since it was a member of ISIS, he doesn't feel that's a big deal. After all, soldiers have done that before.

          Of course it's a different story when his own niece was bullied into taking a plea deal for something that wasn't her fault. She had a bad public defender, she was scared, the other person lied, she got a raw deal...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2020 @ 8:38am

    SomeWhere there should be a note next to "Techdirt" on the front page that indicates; "This Site is for (Entertainment Only)!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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