They’re the heroes that killed America’s most wanted terrorist in a high-stakes covert mission. Of course they became America’s heroes. They appreciate the outpouring of support, love, and recognition, they really do. But what the Navy SEALs would really like is for people to stop talking about their tactics and leave them alone so they can conduct their business successfully in the future:
U.S. Navy SEALs, like the teams that killed Osama bin Laden, are grateful for nation’s show of support but are growing angry with the continued focus on their operation, tactics, and tools, claiming it could jeopardize future raids and their safety.
“My friends in the community tell me they’re very glad for the bit of attention they got,” said former Pentagon deputy undersecretary Jed Babbin, “but at some point the best way to help them is to stop. You guys in the press have done a good job, but stop for God’s sake, stop.” [See photos of the reaction to bin Laden’s death.]
The latest straw came when CBS revealed that the members of Special Warfare Development Group, formerly SEAL Team Six, wore helmet cams into bin Laden’s lair. For many, that was a detail too far and could lead those being targeted by the military to somehow deploy countermeasures.
And Washington Whispers this week reported on two blogs that identified the type of gun the SEALs likely used to kill bin Laden, the HK416 .
Paul Bedard blames Barack Obama for leading the “SEALs parade,” but it wasn’t Obama who let the cat out of the bag. That responsibility lies with Obama’s VP Joe Biden, who told a Ritz-Carlton audience that he “probably shouldn’t say this” just before he divulged the identity of the group:
But here’s what the legendarily verbose and loose-lipped Vice President Joe Biden said at a dinner at Washington’s Ritz Carlton Hotel last night to mark the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Council:
Let me briefly acknowledge tonight’s distinguished honorees. Admiral James Stavridis is a, is the real deal. He can tell you more about and understands the incredible, the phenomenal, the just almost unbelievable capacity of his Navy SEALs and what they did last Sunday.
Folks, I’d be remiss also if I didn’t say an extra word about the incredible events, extraordinary events of this past Sunday. As Vice President of the United States, as an American, I was in absolute awe of the capacity and dedication of the entire team, both the intelligence community, the CIA, the SEALs. It just was extraordinary.
Until then, the official word at the White House was, “Not going to comment on units or numbers.” After Biden blew operational security and identified the SEALs as the commandos, Obama didn’t have much choice but to extol their heroism. And it wasn’t Obama or Biden who blabbed about the HK416, helmet cams, or any other mission details, but apparently lower-level staffers who followed Biden’s example of OPSEC.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted Thursday that this administration appears to have its problems keeping its mouth shut:
Speaking at a town hall with Marines at Camp Lejeune on Thursday morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Special Forces who participated in the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden were worried about their safety, and that he was concerned that so many details of the operation had become known to the public.
“Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden,” Gates said. “That all fell apart on Monday — the next day.” …
Gates said that “there is an awareness that the threat of retaliation is increased because…of the action against bin Laden. “ He said there “has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid, and I think that has to continue.”
The defense secretary said that “when I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that, and particularly with respect to their families…I can’t get into the details in this forum, but we are looking at what measures can be taken to pump up the security.”
Maybe the best thing to do would be to send the VP to an undisclosed location before the next high-stakes covert operation — and then keep him there. Until 2013.