California Rep. Duncan Hunter is known for several things: allegedly misappropriating campaign funding to buy vacation shorts, vaping in Congress, and staunchly defending accused war criminal Eddie Gallagher. The latter point is Hunter’s pet project of the moment, and during a speech on Saturday he threw out his latest line of defense by bizarrely telling on himself for also doing horrible things during his deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter told a Ramona audience Saturday that he’s guilty of the same behavior that led to Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher being charged with war crimes — posing with a dead combatant.
“Eddie did one bad thing that I’m guilty of too — taking a picture of the body and saying something stupid,” Hunter said at a border-issues forum with his father, former Rep. Duncan L. Hunter.
The younger Hunter, a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, said he’s taken pictures “just like that when I was overseas” — although he didn’t text or post images to social media. “But a lot of my peers … have done the exact same thing.”
This is uh... not a thing you want to admit, probably! Hunter has a point—the practice of taking photos with enemy bodies has been relatively widespread during the past 17 plus years of war. The International Committee of the Red Cross notes that while the act of photographing a dead body in war is not crime, as long as they are “unaccompanied by acts of severe disrespect.” Hunter (and Gallagher’s) actions are in a grey area that definitely borders war crimes territory, which, again, not something I would personally confess to in a public forum.
The other problem with Hunter’s defense is that taking a photo with a dead enemy combatant or civilian is one of the least heinous things Gallagher is charged with. Per the New York Times, Gallagher is accused of stabbing a captured teenage fighter, shooting civilians so indiscriminately that his squadmates tried to sabotage the sights of his rifle so he would miss more, firing rockets and machine guns at houses for no reason, and then bullying or threatening anyone who stood up to him into silence. Per the Times:
A week later, records show, Chief Gallagher texted a picture of the dead captive to a fellow SEAL in California, saying, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”