According to a report in the Daily Beast, the two Navy SEALs being investigated for the killing of a U.S. Army Green Beret — Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar — were allegedly discovered by Melgar to have been stealing money from a fund intended for informants. When Melgar confronted the SEALs and then refused their offer to be cut in on the theft, the two SEALs allegedly killed Melgar in an ensuing struggle.
The fund in question was intended to pay informants in Mali for information on suspected Islamists in the region. This type of fund is common in intelligence operations, as the flow of intelligence information often relies on the passage of money in exchange for such information. Given the clandestine nature of such intelligence collection, the funds in question are often accounted for in the most informal of ways, through hand-written receipts and such.
Simply put, it is almost impossible to apply the kind of rigorous accounting measures to these intelligence funds that one would apply to more official expenditures of money in the military and other government agencies. Therein lies the opportunity for the type of theft that was allegedly occurring, and the discovery of which likely caused Melgar his life. All three men were reportedly in Mali as part of such an intelligence gathering mission.
Not only is this story, then, one of a despicable and treacherous murder of a fellow brother-in-arms, but it is also one of base greed, theft and the violation of trust bestowed in two of America’s special operations personnel. Like CIA case officers worldwide, the country placed great trust in these two men, who were reportedly members of SEAL Team SIX, per the Daily Beast, to manage intelligence collection monies for use in gathering vital counterterrorism information to keep America safe. They then committed a heinous act in stealing those monies, and an even more unthinkable and terrible crime in killing Melgar to keep the theft quiet.
Perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of this story, for the layman, is how the two SEALs in question thought they could get away with stealing this money. Truth be told, it would not be very difficult to steal such funds, should one decide to violate his or her moral code and the oath they swore to the United States of America. Without going into detail, this author had the opportunity to commit such a crime in multiple countries and on multiple occasions. It would not have been terribly difficult, though that is not to say I would have gotten away with it for long, as measures do exist to discover such thefts.
The U.S. government and its people place great trust in such men and women to act in good faith, for the good of the country and in keeping with the highest ethical and moral standards. They are trusted to safeguard the money, provide it in exchange for valuable intelligence information, and then account for all of it. The two SEALs allegedly violated that trust, and then went further and murdered a fellow American serviceman in the process of trying to prevent the discovery of their crime.
This is as heinous as it gets in the secretive world of intelligence and covert military operations. This is an absolutely disgusting and vile breach of the code under which we expect such men and women to live and operate. This was a betrayal of trust, and a betrayal of the most fundamental loyalty of one American serviceman to his brother or sister service member. It does not get any worse than this in the profession of arms, and the two SEALs in question, if found guilty of these crimes, should pay the most severe penalty allowed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
They have brought deep shame to the SEAL Teams and all of Naval Special Warfare.
Featured image courtesy of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.