The Pentagon is not happy about the decision by a former SEAL Team 6 commander to go public and neither are senior members of the Naval Special Warfare community, particularly since this is the man who claims to have shot Usama bin Laden. Another former SEAL has now criticized Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) for publicly airing their displeasure.
After a leading cable news network announced it would air a special feature centered around the SEAL who makes this claim, the Pentagon issued a statement pointing out that each of the special operators who took part in the 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound were still bound by a “non-disclosure agreement to not discuss classified information, especially in a nationally televised interview.”
In response to news of The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden, an upcoming Fox News documentary, featuring former navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, Two leaders of the NSWC co-signed a letter to the SEAL community. Signed by NSWC Commander Rear Admiral Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci, the letter encouraged naval warfare special operators to honor the culture of the “quiet professionals” and remain guarded about what they reveal publicly about their service.
The letter reminded the community of the SEAL ethos, saying that a “critical tenamt” of which was “‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.'” Additionally, a reminder of the legal consequences of revealing classified information was included.
When this letter was disseminated through the press, it was a move which caught the eye of former SEAL and FBI Special Agent, Jonathan Gilliam, who penned an open letter to NSWC, criticizing its decision to send out such a communication through public channel.
“Please explain to our community,” begin’s Gilliam’s letter, “how sending an open letter to your “Teammates” through the press, preaching about the quiet professional, was somehow the proper example to your fellow SEALs.” Gilliam, in the letter, describes the Command’s action as simply adding to an “unprofessional and dysfunctional perception” which is “growing in the public’s eye.”
Robert O’Neill is not quite stepping out of the shadows; he has done that already, having appeared as a speaker at least one event. He also gave an interview to Esquire magazine, claiming to be the man who killed bin Laden.
Whilst there are rumors out of Special Operations Command that O’Neill was not the man who fired the fatal shots, Fox News is featuring him in a two-part special November 11 and 12.
Matt Bissonnette, also a SEAL team 6 operator who was on the bin Laden raid, has published No Easy Day, his account of Operation Neptune Spear – wirtten under the name Mark Owen. He, too, is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes, according to reports.
As is the case with most elite special operations units around the world, the Navy SEALs – and, perhaps, more so the unit known as Development Group, or SEAL Team 6 – are very secretive; the nature of their work obviously demands it. Many – perhaps most – serving and former SEALS consider those who go public to be cheapening the honor of the whole community, the code by which they lived and fought and the knowledge and experience they possess. The man who claims he is the bin Laden shooter is set to be in the spotlight and his impending fame has already caused a stir in the SEAL community. As Gilliam put it in a tunblr blog post, “…because of issues like this shooter that can’t seem to keep his mouth shut, SEALs are becoming a trinket to show to friends…”
Graham J Noble