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."

Post by:
Filed under: Military • U.S. Navy
soundoff (924 Responses)
  1. Thomas Gibbons

    1. For the government ref. OPSEC – SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. Self and Family Security – Something to think about BEFORE getting involved in Special Operations.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Name*Jose

    Whe whill ve speaking only Spanish in 20 yeahrs from now. Yu know jau many babbys we make every year?? So fhorget the gramar and lhearn Spanish. Iff you are Ann inglish teacher thatss too badd!!!

    May 13, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. beachcomer11

    Why do the Politicians have to talk about any of this...sick and tired of looking at TV or the Internet and seeing these politicians taking credit for doing jack s***...all they want is there pix out there, and the look what I did, crappy smile...go to Washington and keep screwing the average guy and screwing over the military, crappy housing, lousy pay, poor medical care, and o by the way, go run into that building that is loaded with explosives and save the day, so I can say...OUR guys are doing good work..freaking publicity hounds...p.s. the Military deserves much better than they are getting..

    May 13, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • in the mix

      YOUR ARE ON THE MONEY ! I couldn't agree more ! Good day to you ma'am or sir !

      May 13, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. in the mix

    well, let's blame Bush for this ! NOT, that idiot in the White House really doesn't know how to think anymore, if his teleprompter isn't around, he simply can't speak. Now our most elite teams have concerns for their safety ! This should have been kept under wraps, COVERT OPS means just that.....incognito and should have stayed that way. But Obama wanted SO much credit for a BUSH POLICY that he keep touting his BIG mouth about it and all he wants is ME, ME, ME, I, I, I look at what I did for this country, I ORDERED the killing of UBL. WHOOPPEEE DOOO ! Now get some jobs in this country and STOP TOUTING your horn Mr. Looser President !

    May 13, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. icedawg

    Well, duh. We have politicians and the media to thank for this. The US has become a nation of no discretion.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • in the mix

      Well you know, that thing in the white house that we call a president is the one to blame. You know he chooses the media outlets that HE wants to share HIS arrogant stories with and they jump for that idiot ! Thanks once again Mr. President ! FOR NOTHING once again !

      May 13, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Name*Jose

    Try chinnesse or spanishh
    Whe whill ve speaking only Spanish in 20 yeahrs from now. Yu know jau many babbys we make every year?? So fhorget the gramar and lhearn Spanish. Iff you are Ann inglish teacher thatss too badd!!!

    May 13, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lindsey

    The media needs to leave this Navy Seal angle alone. They are the ones making this so dangerous. I understand their curiosity, but they have to let this story go. The more information they report, the more they put the Seal team, and their families at risk.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • scotty501

      Not the Navy Seal in San Diego who went around attacking an elderly woman and 7 other random strangers w/ a steel poll in Las Vegas!

      May 13, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. WETFUSE13485

    It is clear that the press trying to put so much pressure on the White House to release information about the mission. It is like a cat and mouse game. If the White House does not put out information to the press, the media will just put out false information from these so called sources that they have and then the White House has to come out with the correct information from there guessing and calling it fact. The media has to much power to give misinformation in order to get the real information that they actually wanted. The Operational Security of this Team should be kept close to the breast because if the media bates the DOD and WH enough with enough false information that some idiot might give up to much information in order to stop the press from asking questions.


    May 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred54

      Nonsense, the "media" is and has been fully integrated with US intelligence since Vietnam. Why do you think the
      media has not questioned official government policy in any meaningful way since Vietnam. Everybody including
      US intelligence knows that Osama Bin Laden died of natural causes, complications of Marfan syndrome back in
      Decenber 2001. They knew it perfectly well before invading Afghanistan. The man they probably killed if navy
      SEALs were there at all was Ahmad Khan, the owner of the house. The reason for this hoax is to create new
      enemies and promote more fear in the eyes of the American people so they can continue the wars. The purpose
      of the wars is to install private central banks in the nations of the middle east with the natural resources needed
      to collateralize the debt needed to prop up the US dollar..

      May 13, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Tamma

      Okay, so let's put all of the defense papers on the table, scan um and get the satellites on it! How ludicrous! It was a security measure taken by those highly qualified and in no way do we need to know who or the the details. Leave the SEALS alone, let them do their job and say THANK YOU! People have forgotten that we have the freedoms we do because someone(s) went to war and fought for them. God Bless people. Get a reality check.

      May 13, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • AnonymousVet Those aliens really screwed you up when they abducted you...huh...

      May 13, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • hk8999

      Fred, WOW!! I would suggest you lay off the Conspiracy Theory websites, TV channels, and paper publications. I hope you read the comment you wrote and realize, "Damn, I'm an idiot" Have a good day.

      May 13, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Roy

    Already too much info in the media about any of the SOC units (i.e. home base, unit ID, past ops, etc.).

    May 13, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. The Dimension Machine

    Our love will protect the seals all at TheDimensionMachine dot com

    May 13, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. BS-Meter

    The O-Man's outing of the operators involved in the mission was done for him to obtain the bump in his approval rating, back to 60%. He could have referred to them as "a special operations group" but needed the photo ops at Fort Campbell.

    Once a specific unit such as SEAL Team 6 is identified the media provides as much background information as possible, aiding terrorists already in this country. IMHO, there is a definite risk to their families as well as any military members and their families in the U.S.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      Yeah and when obama came to Ft. Campbell no one was allowed to go to work that day. All civilians were told to stay at home WITHOUT pay. Only a very small handful of people were allowed out at the hangar. He's supposed to be getting people back to work and creating jobs, instead, his very presence keeps people from working.

      May 13, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe Blow

    Keep the SEALs away from Joe Biden, otherwise he'll blurt out their names. "I'm so proud of my friend Joe Seal for shooting OBL between the eyes. He's a wonderful product of Smallville, Minnesota. His parents Bob and Mary must be proud!"

    May 13, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jake

    I think articles like this is irresponsible journalism on the part of CNN and all other media outlets. Everything that is printed or said is a clue where the bad guys can slowly put together the pieces. It needs to be dropped and not mentioned again.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Terry

    The U.S. Government made a huge blunder with the release of information on this event. "A covert operation" is all that should have ever been said. Many people want to know how it happened, but the reality is that no one NEEDS to know how it happened. Pulling the cover off of covert operations forces jeopardizes their ability to pursue future actions. Special Warfare Operators require absolute secrecy within the military and government to perform their assigned missions with absolute efficiency. Any crack in this secrecy compromises the unit and can result in a catastrophic failure.

    Bottom line: You don't need to know what they do or how. Just sleep safely knowing that they are out there.

    May 13, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. The Dimension Machine

    I see many comments on the spelling mistakes…its ok to correct people but it is 100% incorrect to say it with a big ego….thanks

    May 13, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32