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Navy Seals Angry at Obama’s Use of Their Efforts for Political Gain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the one year anniversary of Navy Seal Team Six closing the chapter on Osama bin Laden. In a speech not long after that, President Obama promised he would never use their heroic actions as a political tool. But today, serving and former Seals want the President to know they don’t appreciate him breaking his word.

Photo: Wiki Commons

In particular, these fine military personnel take offense to the current Obama campaign ad, One Chance. In that ad, released on this one year anniversary of bin Laden’s death, Bill Clinton is featured saying that Mr. Obama took “the harder and the more honorable path” by ordering bin Laden be killed. The ad closes with the words, “Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?” prominently displayed.

Mr. Obama also took advantage of a news conference to trumpet his personal role and imply that his Republican opponent, who in 2008 expressed reservations about the wisdom of sending troops into Pakistan, would have allowed bin Laden to live. “I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did”’ said Obama. “If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.”

Ryan Zinke, who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, is now a Republican state senator in Montana. He noted, “The decision was a no-brainer. I applaud him for making it, but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call. I think every president would have done the same. He is justified in saying it was his decision but the preparation, the sacrifice – it was a broader team effort. The President and his administration are positioning him as a war president using the SEALs as ammunition. It was predictable.”

But it isn’t just his political opponents criticizing the president this time. Arianna Huffington, an vocal liberal who heads the left-leaning Huffington Post website, soundly condemned the ad. She told CBS: ‘We should celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room… all that to me is perfectly legitimate, but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

One serving SEAL Team member said: “Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn, he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because his speechwriters are smart. But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, ‘Come on, man!’ It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.”

Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it. But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot. In years to come there is going to be information that will come out that Obama was not the man who made the call. He can say he did and the people who really know what happened are inside the Pentagon, are in the military and the military isn’t allowed to speak out against the commander- in-chief so his secret is safe.”

Kyle added: “He’s trying to say that Romney wouldn’t have made the same call? Anyone who is patriotic to this country would have made that exact call, Democrat or Republican. Obama is taking more credit than he is due but it’s going to get him some pretty good mileage.”

A former intelligence official who served in the US government when bin Laden was killed said that the Obama administration knew about the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts in October 2010 but delayed taking action and risked letting him escape. “In the end, Obama was forced to make a decision and do it. He knew that if he didn’t do it the political risks in not taking action were huge. Mitt Romney would have made the call but he would have made it earlier – as would George W. Bush.”

Brandon Webb, a former SEAL who spent 13 years on active duty and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said many SEALs were disheartened about the amount of publicity the Obama administration had generated about SEAL Team Six, the very existence of which is highly classified. “The majority of the SEALs I know are really proud of the operation but it does become ‘OK, enough is enough – we’re ready to get back to work and step out of the limelight.’ They don’t want to be continuously paraded around a global audience like a show dog.”

Clint Bruce, who gave up the chance of an NFL career to serve as a SEAL officer before retiring as a lieutenant after nine years, said: ‘We were extremely surprised and discouraged by the publicity because it compromises the ability of those guys to operate. It’s a waste of time to speculate about who would and wouldn’t have made that decision. It was a symphony of opportunity and intelligence that allowed this administration to give the green light. We want to acknowledge that they made that decision. Politicians should let the public know where they stand on national security but not in the play-by-play, detailed way that has been done recently. The intricacies of national security should not become part of stump speeches.”

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