US Navy chief says Trump’s tweet is not a formal order

Acting Defense Secretary Richard Spencer said on Saturday he doesn't consider a tweet by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of Edward Gallagher, a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy Seal. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 24 November 2019

US Navy chief says Trump’s tweet is not a formal order

  • In a tweet, Trump insisted last Thursday he was reversing the Navy's move to take away the SEAL status of an officer accused of committing a war crime in Iraq
  • Trump’s initial order in Gallagher only referred to restoring his rank, but it did not explicitly pardon the SEAL for any wrongdoing

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia: The secretary of the US Navy said Saturday he doesn’t consider a tweet by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of a sailor who could lose his status as a Navy SEAL.
“I need a formal order to act,” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said, and referred to the tweet. “I don’t interpret them as a formal order.”
Trump insisted last Thursday the Navy “will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” inserting himself into an ongoing legal review of the sailor’s ability to hold onto the pin that designates him a SEAL.
The Navy on Wednesday notified Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher that he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force.
Gallagher was acquitted of a murder charge in the stabbing death of a Daesh militant captive, but a military jury convicted him of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017. He was then demoted to chief.
Spencer, speaking on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, said if the president requests the process to stop, the process stops.
“Good order and discipline is also obeying the orders of the President of the United States,” he said.
Despite the differing views with the president over the appropriate handling of the case, Spencer told reporters that he has not threatened to resign over the issue. But he acknowledged that he serves at the pleasure of the president.
“The president the United States is the commander in chief. He’s involved in every aspect of government and he can make decisions and give orders as appropriate,” he said.
Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s decision last week to restore Gallagher’s rank.
Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing a rear admiral of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions. Rear Adm. Collin Green is the Naval Special Warfare commander.
Under the review procedure, a five-person board will convene Dec. 2 behind closed doors. It will include one SEAL officer and four senior enlisted SEALs, according to the two US officials. Gallagher can appear once before the board on Dec. 4 but without his lawyers. He can dispute the evidence given to the board that will include his conviction and call witnesses.
Gallagher can appeal any final decision that will be made by the Naval Personnel Board, which will take into account Green’s input and the board’s recommendations.
Trump’s initial order in Gallagher only referred to restoring his rank, but it did not explicitly pardon the SEAL for any wrongdoing.
Green also notified three SEAL officers who oversaw Gallagher during the deployment — Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil — that they are also being reviewed, according to the officials.
Removing their Trident pins means they will no longer be SEALs but could remain in the Navy.
The Navy has revoked 154 Trident pins since 2011.


Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

Updated 49 min 41 sec ago

Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

  • Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message. 

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards. 

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed. 

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near Furio Camillo station, during the lockdown. 

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor Leoluca Orlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”