“So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: justice has been done.” President Barack Obama, the night of Osama bin Laden’s death.
As we near the first anniversary of the Benghazi attacks on September 11, 2012; we also approach another important anniversary. On August 6, 2011, in the Tangi River Valley, one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan, 31 brave American warriors boarded an antiquated Chinook helicopter, to enter into a fierce battlefield, in the middle of the night. None of them came out alive.
If you’d like to know the beginning of this story, look back to May 1st of 2011, when the Obama administration had its proudest moment. I will never forget where I was when I heard the news, on a Sunday night. I had been at church, and was driving home, when I got a text from a friend in Canada. The text said “Osama is dead”. I glanced at it while driving and my heart skipped a beat. Just as I started to text him back, I paused a moment and then wrote “Osama or Obama?”, wondering if it was a typo. He answered “Osama bin Laden”. I went through a drive thru window to get dinner to take home, and joyfully asked the girl at the window “Did you hear the news? Osama bin Laden is dead! We got him!.” She gave me a look of total surprise, confirmed what I’d said in disbelief, and then turned and shouted inside the restaurant “Osama bin Laden is dead!” Her coworkers rushed to the window and looked at me. “Are you sure?” they said. “YES!” I answered. I had it on the radio by that time and they could hear the report. I wasn’t even sure why I’d stopped, other than the fact that I wanted to start texting as many people as I could to share the big news. I assume this is a lot like people who talk about remembering where they were when President Kennedy was shot. It was, for our generation, and our time, a defining moment in history. A true threat, someone behind the worst act of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil, nearly ten years earlier, was now dead.
I rushed home and turned on the coverage, which was all over all the tv channels. There was our President, poised and positioned as a hero, stating that in fact, Osama bin Laden was dead. It wasn’t long, two days to be exact, until Vice President Joe Biden declared publicly that bin Laden had been eliminated, by a group of elite warriors: DEVGRU, formerly Navy SEAL Team VI. The baddest of the bad, the fiercest of the fierce, the Best of the Best; the Navy SEALs, had killed bin Laden. Not only the SEALs, but an elite subgroup, we learned, known as Team 6. More and more questions loomed about the Op that took out bin Laden. How did it happen? Where did they find him? Who was involved? How did he die? Where is his body? The questions were endless. Some would even be answered. None needed to be answered.
The American public, and the rest of the world, did not NEED to know the answers to these questions. The news, was large enough on its own. The redemption, was big enough, on its own, without the exposure of who did it, or how it was done. Certain information is not meant to be shared. They call it CLASSIFIED. Immediately upon Vice President Biden’s announcement, concerns began to form about the safety of the men in this elite unit of Navy SEALs. These are people, with families. They have parents, and grandparents, wives, girlfriends, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. Although they may seem invincible, they are very human. Their identities were fragile at this point, with the narrowing down which Biden’s announcement, followed by another one by then CIA Director Leon Panetta, brought to pinpoint exactly who these men were. The next morning after bin Laden’s death, Bob Woodward reported on ABC’s Good Morning America, that retaliation had always been in the works with al Qaeda, and that the shift would now be made into that mode, which had been planned for 10 years, in the event of bin Laden’s death. The exposure that Biden and Panetta brought, was potentially lethal to SEAL Team VI members, and it was not necessary, other than to bolster popularity, elevate the administration, and paint themselves as heroes. They are not heroes. Heroes don’t draw attention to themselves. Heroes put their lives on the line and live a life of sacrifice. They put themselves in harm’s way, and do so without regret, and with courage, conviction, and confidence. They sure as hell don’t brag about it afterward.
What we witnessed following that, was nothing short of an orchestrated effort to not only brag, but also to pat themselves on the backs, by the administration. Immediately after the news broke that Sunday night around 9 PM, the President was all over television, making a speech, and in that speech, he said:
“The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly ten years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.”
Within less than 48 hours, suddenly the concern for our servicemen, or at least the group known as SEAL Team VI, was carelessly disregarded, when the exposure rolled off the lips of Biden. The costs of war. What exactly was meant by that? The costs of war, is measured first and foremost, by loss of lives. To now, essentially, put a target on the backs of those who righted this horrible wrong, in the only way it could have been done, is horribly wrong, and grossly immoral. It was careless, self-serving, and criminally wrong. It targeted not only those brave men who brought so much redemption and healing to our nation in that one celebratory moment, when we realized that the monster behind all of the pain, and destruction, and death, from 9/11, was at last, dead, and in hell if there is any justice in this world; but also, it put the target on their families, and they knew it, immediately. No one knew then, that within a few short months, the largest single loss of lives would occur in the war in Afghanistan. Thirty Americans, including members from SEAL Team VI, the anonymous, quiet, professional warriors, who live by a code to keep their sensitive missions secret, would be shot out of the sky, in a Chinook helicopter, by the Taliban, in a certain act of retaliation.
Now, the families of those men, demand justice about what happened that night almost two years ago. Their questions must be answered. Show us, Mr. President, the relentless defense of justice, for our bravest warriors. A congressional hearing will finally soon convene. The truth, must come out.
Originally published July 31, 2013 by Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children with permission by author.
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