Like most Americans, I’m very happy that Osama Bin Laden has been given his just reward and can now be referred to simply as a four-letter word, CHUM. As pleased as I may be by his nomenclature simplification, I have become increasingly angered by the sieve-like qualities coming from Obama Administration and Defense officials who continue to divulge details of the May 1 takedown of Bin Laden. It seems that not a day goes by that does not have some “senior Administration/Defense official” speaking to reporters and spilling their guts on how it all happened.
Since the successful Bin Laden eradication, we’ve had recent headlines about secret drone flights over Pakistan; CIA safe houses with sight lines to Bin Laden’s so-called mansion; profiles on stealth technologies with sound suppression techniques for helicopters; and plenty of people talking in way too much candor about how our elite military forces trained and took down the ultimate target.
I freely confess that I am one of those people absolutely fascinated and insatiably curious about how the whole operation went down, but we’ve long passed the point where the details we divulge risk the very people and operations that are carried out. These motor-mouths (which is about the most polite thing I can call them) seem more enchanted with currying and preserving their media relationships and engaging in some egocentric exercise to inflate their own self-worth than preserving the unique capabilities our intelligence and military forces have to do jobs that must be done. A huge portion of why this operation was a success was because only a handful of people knew anything about it.
In a recent press conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, both gentlemen expressed their concerns about the on-going blabbering on the Bin Laden mission. They aren’t alone. The media has started to get some blow back from former intelligence and defense personnel who have been part of similar operations in their prior lives. Unfortunately, this blowback may be too late. Far too many people who were brought “into the know” after the operation’s completion have felt it their duty to tell any reporter and anyone who will listen anything and everything they know about the operation.
Such an exercise is criminal and anyone who has ever held any type of security clearance knows that for a fact. While there is an absolute duty for the Administration and the military to provide an explanation to the American public of what they did and why they did it, there is NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON to divulge all that it has to date.
I fully understand how the Administration sought to correct the record after some of the inaccurate reporting that came out when the Bin Laden extermination announcement was first made. That is a fog-of-war environment where nothing is immediately clear until after the dust settles, but that is no cause to permanently unlock the jaws of people entrusted with significant responsibilities to keep on talking because it is a relief or that it feels good. If people want that type of confessional experience they can either meet with their priest or lock themselves in a SCIF where they can chew the cud with others who are cleared to talk about this stuff.
Otherwise, shut the hell up.
Keeping quiet about these things certainly emboldens the conspiracy-minded crowd about us who seem to find a “Grassy Knoll” wherever a shrub is planted, but it also preserves unique capabilities that are necessary to eradicating the cancers that wish to attack us, our allies and our collective interests. Giving these individuals the playbook and describing how we run our operations is in no one’s strategic interest in this country. Hell, the owners of Kentucky Fried Chicken have done a better job protecting the Colonel’s secret 21-spice recipe than we have in looking after the mechanisms and means of the Joint Services Operations Command. That’s a disgrace.
As much as we may deservedly want to herald the actions of the intelligence and military units that made the Bin Laden mission a success, we pay them greater homage by simply saying, “thank you” than by telling everyone how they do what they do and who they may or may not be. Fortunately for us, these unique men and women chose careers where their works will often go unrecorded and unknown for history books. They chose that anonymity, and we are blessed by those selfless actions in our nation’s interests. Those who decide they have an innate right to talk without regard to the means and methods of such operations are of no one’s service but their own self-righteous ego. As I offered earlier, it is well past time for them to shut the hell up.