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. Rob

    This is the kind of support we need to justify torturing bradass, keep drinking the kool-aid folks, ohhh yeah!

    May 13, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Altee11

    Secrecy is the key to maintaining an advantage over the enemies of democracy. We are one nation with a successful experiment in democracy. The tyrants would love to see us fail. There are so many tyrants; the only thing they understand is strength and how many ways it can be used.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. l s

    Too much info has been released already incl letting more people see these pictures? Where will it end with continual thirst for Osama news & not being mindful of his rights? : o enough already he should hopefully b in hell now where he belongs!!

    May 13, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      He is in hell. Along with his 72 male virgins.

      May 13, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Munkinutz

      ...the virgins are the WoW players that forgot to unplug long enough to refill on mountain dew and hot pockets

      May 13, 2011 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Klaark

    I love the simple minded idiots who worship being kept in the dark..."think of the CHILDREN! The FAMILIES!"

    When the government eventually takes you out back, I hope no one makes a peep.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. flimflam74

    hey, what happened to the rest of the fathers? why do we only have four fathers? hahahaha!!!!

    May 13, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • (ret)mm3/campbell(first name withheld)

      Now that ur butts know I have proof of my service your shutting up. That's right I thought so, you hooligans. Hoooya

      May 13, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      Ask your mother about your four fathers, and leave the discussion to adults. Some people really don't know when to put a sock in it.

      May 13, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. prouid American

    I just want to say thank you to whom ever killed that low life

    May 13, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. (ret)mm3/campbell(first name withheld)

    I have my military personell file and the proof I was there is in it and the 10 medals I got during my 4yrs of service as well as my dd-214 to prove you jack asses wrong. I was medically discharged honorably. Now shove that down your pipe and smoke it. Hoooya

    May 13, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You're so fake it's not even funny. It's hilarious.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kayla

    We appreciate your protecting us all, thank you to all of the men and women in the military.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Daryl

      Yes, thank you for all you've done over the years. We've had so many threats to our safety. The Spaniards, who didn't blow up the Maine but could have. The Filipinos–if brave American soldiers hadn't waterboarded so many of them, we'd all be speaking Tagalog right now. We "lost" in Vietnam–a threat so subtle that LBJ had to make up an incident to justify war to a somnolent public–but by killing 4 million of them, Our Troops doubtless prevented a Viet Cong invasion of the US. Diego Garcia–who knows what horrors the natives might have inflicted on us if we hadn't done an ethnic cleansing of their island to make way for our naval base. Native Americans tried to bring our great nation down by forcing the government to adhere to its treaties, but you showed them Americans are made of sterner stuff. A half-million Iraqi babies won't grow into Iraqi adults, thanks to you. Dominicans, Haitians, Central and South Americans, the Kaiser, Southerners–you've saved us from them all!

      May 13, 2011 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin B

    To the tone of that old cat food comercial ~
    fear fear fear fear,
    fear fear fear fear,
    fear fear fear fear fear fear fear fear,
    fear fear fear fear, fear fear fear fear,
    fear fear fear fear.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. Formermarine

    Oh please, They aren't in any more danger than the next guy.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ex_NavSpecWarCen_Member

    First off, SEALS are not fearful for doing their jobs. Second, he's not the first, or the last bad guy they will hunt. Third, F#@% You Gates! We do this for a living!!! Stick to politics......

    May 13, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
    • (ret)mm3/campbell(first name withheld)

      Hooya NavSpecWarCen_Member , how's it going my brother in arms?

      May 13, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Ex_NavSpecWarCen_Member

      Hey Cambell, I can't even begin to know how DEVGRU really feels. I can tell you, I tried hard and didn't make it twice. Luckily they took pity on my weak ass leg and sent me accross the street for ND training (ND2 with SDV / ExDive /and general hull scrubber). Gates is an idiot. I'm sure they didn't want to look weak. No matter what he says, anyone in the know knows, the SecWarCom has no scared little puppies. Hooya!!!

      May 13, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      If your family was facing a threat from terrorists, I bet you'd change your mind real quick. This macho BS is so annoying. These guys aren't superhuman. They're aren't scared for their own lives, we all know that. They're worried about their families, like any real man should be. And if they aren't concerned they're pretty stupid. All it takes is one bozo to open their mouth and their names are public information–especially in this day and age.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Ex_NavSpecWarCen_Member

      Steve, you obviously know nothing about DEVGU. Gates doesn't speak for them. Obama didn't out anyone. And you wouldn't know one of those masked long hairs if he stood right next to you at the kleenex store. Also you have no idea what I was involved in twenty years ago during the first Gulf War, so don't bother thinking for me. I know how I'd feel.

      May 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ex_NavSpecWarCen_Member

      Oops..... DEVGRU, sorry.....

      May 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sdb0ltz

    When was the last time in American History the death of 1 man was so valuable to our safety, society and patriotism... Think about that. Im so proud of our military and those few men that pulled off that mission! Lets honor them by respecting their privacy, they know who they are, Thank you gentleman you are all true heroes, amazing... Thank You.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. mary

    I just don't think the Seals are to concerned! I'm sure if they will need protection it will be given to them! Is there really a "Team Six" associated with the navy seals? Could that have been a made up name to protect the real Seals that took part in the mission? I can't imagine that information given out so freely! I don't really know, but just asking! MARY~

    May 13, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • (ret)mm3/campbell(first name withheld)

      To answer your question maryB yes there is a seal team 6. They are primarly responsible for anti-terrorism, special wepons and tactics. I cant`t divulge any more info than that because its classified and I don't want to lose my CS clearance but, yes they exist. Fair winds and following seas!

      May 13, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scott

    Something tells me they will be just fine : )

    May 13, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. rdnkmarine1979

    simply put our men and women need to be protected. Too much info is"leaked" into the media these days... and to anyone who thinks this country isnt worth fighting for anymore, as a former MARINE myselfby all means feel free to get the hell out

    May 13, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
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