Sunday, November 09, 2014

dissension in the ranks?

theguardian |  Robert O’Neill, a highly decorated 38-year-old veteran from Butte, Montana, now retired after 17 years in the forces, also said the al-Qaida leader died afraid and that US military leaders had not wanted him captured alive.

Once proud of their reputation as the “quiet professionals”, squabbling among the elite Seals has thrust them into the media spotlight. The men who have fuelled controversy about how much the public should know about the bin Laden raid face hostility about why they are breaking a traditional vow of silence and criticism from former comrades in arms.

“Vets need to sack up. We will bash each other for no fucking reason,” O’Neill told freelance journalist Alex Quade, in recordings broadcast on CNN. “Every marine that gets out, every Ranger that gets out, every, every army guy that writes a book, they’re lauded as heroes. You do it as a Seal and you’re a fucking villain.”

Controversy has already swirled around Matt Bissonnette, another member of the 23-man team, who under the pen name Mark Owen in 2012 published No Easy Day, a book about the raid. The manuscript was not cleared by the Pentagon and he is still under investigation for leaking classified material.

Both O’Neill and Bissonnette were apparently the targets of a fierce letter of criticism sent to all former and serving Seals by rear admiral Brian Losey and force master chief Michael Magaraci. It did not mention them by name, but there were few doubts about its target.

Any mission is successful because of teamwork by hundreds of unnamed comrades not a few shots by the men on the ground and if those men claim public recognition for their role they betray the others, the letter argued.

“Any real credit to be rendered is about the incredible focus, commitment and teamwork of this diverse network, and the years of hard work undertaken with little individual public credit,” the letter, dated October 31, said. “We do not abide wilful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honourable service, courage and sacrifice.”

O’Neill says he shot Bin Laden twice in the head. He had featured in an Esquire magazine piece last year named only as “The Shooter”, but was planning to unmask himself in an interview with Fox News this month. A special forces website scooped the news channel, naming O’Neill in its report on the senior officers’ letter.

It unleashed attacks and questions about the ex-Seal’s account but the veteran, in an echo of his former commanders, claimed he was not interested in fame. “The most important thing that I have learned in the last two years is, to me it doesn’t matter any more if I am ‘The Shooter,’” O’Neill said in comments recorded before his name was made public.

“The team got him. It was a successful mission. Regardless of the negativity that comes with it, I don’t give a fuck. We got him. We brought him out, and we lived. And that obviously will go down historically, but I don’t care if I’m ‘The Shooter’. And there are people who think I’m not. So whatever.”