John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA

Rep. Duncan Hunter says he 'probably killed women and children' in Iraq

June 03, 2019 - 11:20 am

By Ben Krimmel

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former Marine artillery officer and the first combat veteran from Iraq to serve in Congress, admitted he "killed probably hundreds of civilians" during his 2004 tour in Iraq in defense of service members accused of war crimes.

Speaking with Barstool Sports' "Zero Blog Thirty" podcast in defense of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who is charged with premeditated murder for stabbing to death an injured suspected ISIS fighter, Hunter asked if he would be judged for actions he considered to be similar.

"I was an artillery officer, and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians, if not scores," Hunter said. "Probably killed women and children, if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged, too?"

Hunter says he believes his action as an artillery officer is comparable to Gallagher's.

"If what the prosecution says is true, (the fighter) was killed, which we tried to do hours beforehand and then died hours after we tried to kill him but he might have been killed in a way that you don't personally agree with, because you say it's against the laws of war," Hunter said. "As opposed to artillery killing civilians, women, and children, because it's kind of indiscriminate in a way. It's not a sniper weapon, right. Which is worse?"

When asked where the line was on what type of actions by service members he wouldn't defend, Hunter said he had reviewed the photos and video from the Gallagher case and spoke to other SEALs who served with Gallagher and concluded he "simply didn't believe the charges."

"I frankly don't care if he was killed, I just don't care," Hunter said of the man Gallagher is accused of stabbing. "And that's my personal point of view and as a congressman that's my prerogative to help a guy out like that and even if everything that the prosecutors say is true in this case, then, you know, Eddie Gallagher should still be given a break, I think."

When pressed on the matter of the rules of engagement, Hunter said he would still support Gallagher and said after seeing the video he thinks the fighter was "going to die anyway."

Of his time in Iraq, Hunter said "I got to watch the rules of engagement change when they went from, 'You can kill anybody that's bad and that is out past 9 o'clock at night' to 'You can't shoot somebody unless they're shooting at you first.' That kinda happened in the 2004 - 2005 timeframe when we went to compassionate combat."

During the interview, Hunter touted his record of attempting to secure pardons for veterans, including Gallagher, who President Donald Trump is reportedly considering pardoning. Hunter had harsh words for the U.S. military justice system, saying he took on many of these cases to let "the American people see how stupid the military bureaucracy and justice system is. It's just dumb and it's broken."

In May, Hunter said he had also posed for a picture next to a dead combatant, adding "a lot of us have done the exact same thing," referring to other service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gallagher posed for photos next to the body of the man he allegedly stabbed, prosecutors said.

Hunter was re-elected in November despite facing a federal indictment on corruption charges after he and his wife allegedly misused campaign funds and are currently awaiting trial after pleading not guilty. The indictment also included accusations Hunter and his wife attempted to defraud veterans charities.

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