With the 9/11 attacks being the story of the last decade, the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden may be the big story of this decade. Before SEAL Team Six inserted via classified stealth helicopters and killed HVT #1, the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA had an agreed upon narrative that would be sold to the public. This narrative would presumably help everyone take the most amount of credit possible, but would also do the responsible thing in maintaining operational security. This means that the military would be able to protect Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, while the CIA would protect sources and methods.
Then one of the stealth helicopters, probably a highly modified MH-60 Blackhawk, crash landed inside the compound. With the agreed upon cover story thrown into disarray, the White House panicked. This was the big story that would keep the President in office for another four years and if the Public Relations spin made them look bad it could be curtains for the administration. The White House then began to leak sensitive information. Perhaps the culmination of these leaks was a pitifully bad article about the OBL raid in The New Yorker magazine, describing a childish facsimile of an actual military operation.
While many journalists scrambled to get the big scoop on the Bin Laden raid, they became frustrated that The New Yorker landed the story. What many didn’t understand was that the New Yorker was the White House’s trusted media outlet. Call it Public Relations, call it propaganda, this was the venue chosen to make the White House look good. SOFREP does not know where the leak originated, but the National Security Council and any connections they may have to The New Yorker would be a good place to start looking.
As far as prosecutions, well, good luck with that. The perception in the halls of government is that anything ordered by the White House is automatically legal, as if by some royal decree but this is not the case. One way or the other, the President is not the fall guy for anybody except maybe in the most extreme circumstances.
These OPSEC violations have given rise to much debate as we head into the coming election season. Political Action Committees are producing videos to demonize the Obama administration. I would advise people to be highly skeptical about these types of campaigns. The White House has a political agenda and so does groups like OPSEC. More on that at a later date…
Further confusing matters is “Mark Owen”, real name Matt Bissonnette, who has written his own first hand account of the raid in “No Easy Day”. Word has it that Matt was given the boot from SEAL Team Six’s Red Squadron not long after the Bin Laden raid, possibly causing some bad blood. There is also speculation that Matt has come on some hard times financially leading him to chase a seven figure payday. Don’t tell us the money is for charity because that doesn’t give you a free pass. This is reminiscent of what I have heard about another controversial book called “Inside Delta Force” by Eric Haney who is purported to have written the book as a way to compensate after a number of bad investments.
With leaks coming from both the White House and within SEAL Team Six, the perception in the public and within the military is that the Navy’s most elite unit is now becoming worthless for covert operations. Maybe it is time for Admiral McRaven to be told to lock down his boys until they can be brought under control. I know a number of SEALs who epitomize the quiet professional moniker and those who are talking are in the minority. A few months ago, I would have said that the publicity surrounding the OBL raid is not SEAL Team Six’s fault but this is no longer the case.
The publishing of a blow by blow account of the raid so soon after the event itself, with soldiers still in theater, still conducting dangerous operations, is simply too much. This book is a tipping point and will result in blowback that will give the entire Special Operations community two black eyes. I served in the 75th Ranger Regiment and 5th Special Forces Group and worked alongside Delta and other JSOC units. I usually don’t engage in USASOC vs. NSW debates but even I have to say, if Delta Force or Rangers had conducted this raid then the situation would never have gotten this out of control.
At SOFREP we walk a fine line at times, but Brandon and I are careful not to blow the lid on TTP’s and active operations. We give our take on what is already open source, but we are not digging into classified operations and we are not interested in “exposing” operators. We are aware that we are a part of SOF being in the public eye, we created this website to help crush some of the misconceptions about Special Operations and to present our units in a positive light. When things are really desperate, we do engage in some blue on blue and take shots at our own people.
This is one of those times.