Hold the presses! Or in the case of the Daily Mail and the equally infamous Drudge Report – hold the conservative right-wing rag, please!
On May 1, 2012, BuzzFeed published an online article entitled Will the Navy SEALs Swiftboat Obama? In a heavily biased piece that closely resembles a gossipy on dit, BuzzFeed heard it told by the Daily Mail, that they heard it told by the Drudge Report, that they heard it told by an alleged Navy SEAL online, that the SEALs community resents Obama. Particularly, the article asserts, since Obama’s announcement of the death of Bin Laden caused a retaliatory strike by Afghan insurgents, who shot down a military helicopter with 22 Navy SEALS from Team Six on board. The source of these allegations, the Daily Mail, is a severely right-wing conservative tabloid based in the UK; and then there is our very own Obama-loving, Right Wingnut Matt Drudge.
In a cooked up story report, BuzzFeed claims that after the airing of the One Chance ad by President Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief “got clawed.” If by “clawed” they mean that the President’s approval rating rose in the national polls, then I heartily concur. The meat of their argument, however, stems from an online comment from an alleged Navy SEAL. Online. Anonymous. Based on that and commentary from a Republican ex-SEAL, the Daily Mail reported this:
“Serving and former US Navy SEALs have slammed President Barack Obama for taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and accused him of using Special Forces operators as ‘ammunition’ for his re-election campaign.”
One is left to believe that small conservative minds cannot comprehend the notion of “chain of command,” or the notion that the SEALs, skilled as they are, were not qualified to make the call on the Bin Laden strike. The action had to be authorized by the SEALs Commander-in-Chief, but the picture becomes crystal clear when the BuzzFeed commentary continued with this:
“The frustration—or, even anger—within the SEAL community is real, and has been brewing for months, particularly among a politically conservative core of operators. It started immediately after the raid, with questions among the Special Forces and intelligence community of whether the president should have waited to announce the kill to exploit the intelligence cache at Osama’s compound. It simmered after a Chinook helicopter was shot down, killing 30 Americans, 22 of them Navy SEALs from Team Six.
“Was it a coincidence, SEALs asked themselves, catastrophe hit Team Six so soon after being named as the team responsible for the killing?”
First of all, SEALs do not advertise themselves, so insurgents on the ground could not possibly have known that they were attacking the group that eliminated Bin Laden. Another problem with this rhetoric lies with the timeline. President Obama announced the death of Bin Laden on May 1, 2011; insurgents shot down the military helicopter on August 6, 2011, as it was rushing to assist other troops engaged in a firefight. Saying that the two evens are cause and effect is a huge stretch. It blatantly ignores the fact that the helicopter was engaged in active combat when it was shot down. It also ignores the fact that US military helicopters are routinely shot down over Afghanistan. As a case in point, several were shot down in June 2010, in August 2010, and again on April 2011, well before the Bin Laden killing. The tabloid reporter continues, however, with a statement that Navy SEALs refuse to talk to engage in commentary:
“Over the past few days, I’ve reached out to a number of SEALs, both active duty and former. Most active duty SEALs were reluctant to go on the record venting or praising their boss, but one of the most interesting responses I received from an operator was to direct me to Leif Babin, a SEAL who left active duty last year.
“Babin, who runs the consulting firm Echelon Front, wrote a little noticed op-ed in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal four months ago. The headline: OBAMA EXPLOITS THE NAVY SEALS. Babin took aim at “the president and his advisors, writing: “It is infuriating to see political gain put above the safety and security of our brave warriors and our long-term strategic goals.””
The storyteller hopes that you ignore several things. If active SEALs remain tight-lipped, how do these rag-pushers know what SEALs think about their Commander-in-Chief? Another factoid exposed here is the obvious conflation of a few “politically conservative NAVY SEALs” with “SEAL Team Six” and even with “Navy SEALs in general.” Babin is obviously Republican, and is as dyed-in-the-wool as they come. He’s recently married to FOX News anchor Jenna Lee. Since he is retired from active duty, Babin has every right to publicly express his ultra-partisan opinion. I’m sure there are others like him; but to make the comments of a partisan few be somehow representative of an entire branch of the US Military is both dishonest and ludicrous. As recently as May 1, 2012, Americans saw raw footage of President Obama with the troops in Afghanistan; all seemed genuinely excited to greet, shake hands with, and even hug their Commander-In-Chief.
So, will the SEALs be swiftboating President Obama during this year’s general election? Who knows how far Republican ex-servicemen like Babin could be persuaded to act. How well it would work is another story. One can always ask: where do the Babins of this world stand on Bush’s “Mission Accomplished?” The answer is clear; this article is nothing more than a nasty swipe of partisan politics. To have a Brit tabloid lead their less-than-valiant charge makes it laugh-out-loud pathetic. The decision to strike Bin Laden was Obama’s – it is a fact that no amount of disparaging can diminish.