Gates: SEALs who killed bin Laden concerned for their safety
May 12th, 2011
09:59 PM ET

Gates: SEALs who killed bin Laden concerned for their safety

The Department of Defense is looking into ways to "pump up the security" for the team of Navy SEALs who helped kill Osama bin Laden after the commandos expressed concern for their safety and the safety of their families, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

Gates made the comment in response to a question at a town hall meeting at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. A Marine asked what measures were being taken to protect "the identities and the lives" of the SEALs involved in the takedown of bin Laden in Pakistan a week ago, as well as other troops deployed in the region, from the threat of retaliation.

"We are very concerned about the security of our families - of your families and our troops, and also these elite units that are engaged in things like that. And without getting into any details ... I would tell you that when I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that, and particularly with respect to their families," Gates told the audience.

"Frankly, a week ago Sunday, 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."

Gates' comments offered the first insight into the mindset of the team members since they carried out the risky operation.

SEALs, short for Sea, Air and Land teams, are known as "quiet professionals." They keep a low profile because of the classified nature of their tactical operations.

The team, known as SEAL Team 6, is widely believed to have returned to American soil. But the unit is covered with such a degree of secrecy that the military won't confirm its presence.

The Marine's question underscored sentiment among military and intelligence communities that identification of the team signified an unprecedented breach of confidentiality.

Gates acknowledged the threat of retaliation against Team 6 and troops deployed in the region.

"There is an awareness that the threat of retaliation is increased because of the attacks - because of the action against bin Laden," he said. "The one thing I would tell you, though, is that I think there has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid, and I think that has to continue."

A Pentagon spokesman later cautioned against interpreting Gates' response "as a criticism of any particular person or office."

"He was indeed voicing his concern about the breakdown in operational security after the killing of Bin Laden," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Geoff Morrell said. "Anonymous sources revealing secret information about the tactics, training, and equipment of covert forces put at risk our ability to successfully mount similar missions in the future."

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Filed under: Military • U.S. Navy
soundoff (924 Responses)
  1. JN

    Good thing Dick Cheney isn't stil in office; He has a record of outing top-secret government workers.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ronF

      If this has been the Bush Administration any misstep by a family member would have put the entire Delta company at risk (fare game) just like everyone at Brewster Jennings & Associates, had their cover blown when Bush outed Plame.

      Before anyone replies with Faux news / AM talk show lies; recall Former CIA Director George Tenet (appoint by Bush Sr.) had to file a crimes report to force the Bush administration to appoint special consul (it is law) after 6 months of Bush AG inaction. The crime was outing an agent with covert status. Tenet was later replaced (I wonder why), by Gen. Hayden. Hayden then declassified and released Plame’s personal records to prove her covert / protected status and to make sure it could be entered into the public record / evidence in the Plame trial.

      The Faux New/dittoheads no doubt will believe Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc… over the FBI and two CIA directors, but hey facts, are not for everyone.

      End result a whole group of Agents (everyone at Brewster Jennings & Associates) and their contacts all got put in the spotlight…

      May 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fineart

    CNN and all of the other news stations, SHUT UP ABOUT OBL. It's over, let it die. What was the name of that movie where the news reporters disappeared for divulging information that put our country and it's fighting force in grave danger.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest202020

      as long as people keep watching/reading about it then advertisers will continue to buy space and cnn will continue to beat the dead horse. don't blame cnn for "paying the mortgage". blame people like yourself who continue to read these stories on post here.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DAve

    It is a shame that out brave men have been put in harms way at the hands of PR. These brave men do their job and wish to be left alone, NO public meetings but PR/news must be more important than the safety of our troops.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lilbit1153

    Obama and Press Secretary Jay Carney both need to be taken to the wood shed, but what can you expect from a Commander in Chief that never served in the military?!?! Loose lips sinks ships and get good men killed!

    May 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ronF

      As opposed the one that went AWOL? Best case Bush Jr. got a my-Daddy-is-a-Senator pass leave his platoon one pilot short while we went and partied. Worst case he was AWOL.

      Either way it was undisputed that Bush Jr. only stuck around along enough to a) dodge the draft and b) learn to fly a jet, but he NEVER used those skills to serve. His was absent for 100% for his training missions, his group had to train one pilot short.

      BTW the rest of the Bush top admins dodged the draft too along with Rush L, Bill O and Rove.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomUSMC

      Hey Ron, you are hating on Bush pretty hard. Did you happen to serve?

      May 12, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      RonF, did you ever serve? At least Bush Served. His predecessor skipped the country to go protest. You need to learn that people in glass houses don't throw stones.

      May 13, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • RonF

      Tim & Tom (or should I call you Frick and Frack), yes I did serve 2 tours in 'nam. Shut your silly pie-holes.

      May 13, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Queef

    Don't worry, WikiLeaks will out them eventually...

    May 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DanielK

    UMM HELLO? They are NAVY SEALS im sure they can protect themselves.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sam Spade

    What happens when you murder people in cold blood? Bin Laden did it and paid the ultimate price. These arrogant robot, Johm Wayne wannabe SEALs do it and this country makes heroes out of them. Bin Laden was unarmed and no threat. He was gunned down in a turkey shoot. It's as simple as that.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • CMcCartney

      Are you serious?
      Perhaps on 9 11 Osama Bin Laden was unarmed; guess he was no danger to us then either?

      May 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Travis Austin

      Bin Laden had it coming. And its only fitting he die unarmed in a turkey shoot...considering he claimed responsibility for the mass murder of 3000 people on 9/11. his arrogance caught up to him.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brett

      Do you really believe what you stated here? Surely you don't.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sparky

      Sam Spade – If you live in America please move. You don't deserve to live in this country.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tired of Business as usual...

      No, it is NOT as simple as that you idiot.
      the orders, I REPEAT ORDERS...(for those who don't understand the word, it means to do what you are TOLD), were to take him DEAD OR ALIVE. They did just that. You go right ahead and believe what you think is "fact" coming from the news sources. And, you are a fool for doing so. The only FACT is that those men followed ORDERS, and got the job DONE. That is a concept you are not familiar with, nor is RONF, which I am sure stands for Ron The Fool.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Wannabe SEALs? I guess you are one, huh? Were you there on the ground to know what was going on? Somehow I would doubt that. OBL not a threat? Since when do you have to be "unarmed" to not be a threat? They did their job, unlike you.

      May 13, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • CNN Shameful

      Poor OBL. He died hiding behind a woman, far more than his victims got. About as disgusting as this poster.

      May 13, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • UtahIndie

      Thanks for outing yourself as a dumba$$ right off the bat. Now I know that I won't have to read anymore of your posts.

      May 13, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Darlene Buckingham

    I'm sure the NAvy Seals can protect themselves and I hope they get mad for being used to fear monger. I really believe McCain that it was Osama.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Madeleine Provo

    It is so irresponible of those who have leaked any detailed information including the unit who did the raid... What were they thinking...

    May 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom Wills

    I hope their names are released. It's called freedom of speech and I'm all for WikiLeaks. It's called a democracy you morons.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Actually we are a republic. XD

      May 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Queef

      Hey, Al Queda, I just heard one of the SEAL's name was Tom Wills...

      May 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Friend of Tom Wills

      To whom it may concern of OBL clan,

      I hope a guy named Tom Wills.....he is a Benedict Arnold, and would love to assist you in many ways. He is too much of a coward to place his personal information out for the public; claiming FOIA....but, I am sure, if he is MAN ENOUGH, he would gladly tell you where he lives, and assist you in you operations.....right Tom?????

      May 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tired of Business as usual...

      And I hope YOU get shot instead of them you idiot. It's called "responsibility for shooting off your BIG MOUTH".
      You are the worst kind of danger to society, because you have no concern for the safety or rights of others, just for yourself. YOU are a menace to society and the root cause of why this country is in such sorry shape. When you say such things and actually mean it, it means that your soul has been drained of any value to the rest of us.

      May 13, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Tom, put your money where your mouth is. Post your real name, address, and phone number. Heck, put your SSN in the post as well.

      May 13, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom Wills

      Tim, here you go:

      Tom Wills
      64B Second Ave.
      Springfield, IL


      How bout you do the same?

      May 13, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • opinions

      Tom, if any of that is correct, your intellect shines through. I disagree with you strongly, but hope no harm comes to you. Might want to invest in a credit monitoring service if you really just put all of that out there. Brilliant!

      May 13, 2011 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Barack Hussein Osama

      I heard one of the SEALs name is CHUCK NORRIS. XD

      May 13, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. GG

    Whoever let's names get out should get the death penalty.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Ogilvey

    Have we water boarded Bin Laden's ex wives 650 times yet? Oh that's right the lunatic, Bush, is now back on the ranch. With his sheep.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. C McCartney

    I agree with markinFL.
    It is clear the Navy Seals are dedicated to protecting our government and our country.
    Our government should be dedicated to protecting them.
    Instead of talking about support for Military Families; why doesn't this Administration "Just Do It" by keeping confidential information confidential.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    Nobody should know who these heros are. Keep 'em safe.
    Or just tell the smelly muslims that Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen were responsible.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom Wills

    I also think that the muslim god Allah was a gay pedophile drag queen. I am the one that took down Osama bin Laden and you loser punka$$ muslims can do nothing about it bit-ches.
    I'm Tom Wills. Come and get me.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barack Hussein Osama

      If anybody has a Gay pedophile drag queen god, it's the Catholics. look at all their priests. they love them some lil boys.

      May 13, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
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