President Barack Hussein Obama has been revealing the secrets of the special operations community for political gain, a former SEAL claims. In a commentary in the Wall Street Journal, Leif Babin takes his former Commander-in-Chief to task for revealing how Navy SEALs operate, potentially endangering the elite soldiers.
“Of paramount importance—especially given the risk and sensitivity of the missions and the small units involved—is what the military calls ‘operational security,’ or maintaining secrecy,” Babin wrote in the commentary. “If the enemy learns details and can anticipate the manner and timing of an attack, the likelihood of success is significantly reduced and the risk to our forces is significantly increased.”
Among the potential risks to operational security was the reported revelation of details on the bin Laden raid to Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who worked together on The Hurt Locker. The film had drawn mixed reviews, with one Army EOD officer, Captain Robert Busseau, stating that he would have fired the main character of the film.
The recent rescue of an American and a Danish relief worker from Somali pirates by the same unit that killed Usama bin Laden added to the loss of operation security. After the initial announcement of the rescue, “"anonymous U.S. officials" proceeded to reveal details of the takedown to the press.
Not mentioned was the fact that the disclosures have damaged American intelligence networks, and resulted in the loss of sources. “In June, Pakistan arrested several individuals who allegedly provided information to the CIA in advance of the raid. One of those charged with treason was a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi,” Babin wrote.
Worse, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirmed that the doctor had provided important information that had enabled the raid to be carried out. “That may have condemned Dr. Afridi to death or life imprisonment,” Babin wrote. Future intelligence-gathering will be affected as well, as future sources will be reluctant to cooperate with the CIA due to the inability to keep their identities confidential.
The disclosures had dismayed Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, who had stated at the time, “Frankly, a week ago Sunday [1 May, 2011], in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday—the next day.” Like Panetta, Gates had also been a former CIA director.
“It is infuriating to see political gain put above the safety and security of our brave warriors and our long-term strategic goals. Loose lips sink ships,” Babin concluded. Whether these revelations will lead to the deaths of highly-trained SEALs or other special operations personnel remains to be seen.