Tag Archives: SEALs

‘You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard’

Of all the words written in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attack, which struck us 17 years ago, one essay stands out.

I want to share it here. It came from Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald.

I was proud to publish it in real time on the pages of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, where I was working on that day in 2001.

I feel the need to show it to you once again. Pitts captured fully our sense of rage, fear, pain once it became known that terrorists had plunged the weapon deeply in our national heart.

Read the essay here.

The war against international terrorism continues. Yes, we were able to “bring justice” to the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, thanks to the bravery and immense skill and precision of the SEALs and the CIA commandos who carried out the dangerous mission in May 2011. More evil men have stepped up.

I hope you get as much from Pitts’s essay as I did then … and as I continue to do to this day.

‘Revoke my clearance, too’

William McRaven is an unabashed American patriot. He is a former Navy SEAL, former U.S. Special Operations Force commanding officer, a retired Navy admiral.

He also supervised the May 2011 Navy SEAL/CIA commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

He also is critical of the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

McRaven, who’s about to leave his current post as University of Texas System chancellor, has dared the president to revoke his security clearance. He said he wants the revocation so that he can stand in solidarity with former CIA Director John Brennan, who had his clearance yanked by the president.

Trump acted in a remarkable and breathtaking fit of pique at Brennan because the former top spook has been harshly critical of the president. Why, Trump just won’t have any of that.

As MSN.com reported: “[Brennan] is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him,” retired Navy Adm. William McRaven wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

“Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” he wrote.

I heard some chatter today that Trump supporters are actually questioning McRaven’s love of country because of his criticism of the president.

To think anyone would question this man’s patriotism simply boggles my mind. Or the minds of reasonable people anywhere.

Good news: Osama bin Laden is still dead

I have been grappling emotionally with how I should approach the crux of this next blog post.

I’ll start with the positive aspect first. Seven years ago today, a group of Navy SEALs, along with CIA operatives flew into Pakistan under the darkness of a moonless night. They departed their helicopters and killed Osama bin Laden, the world’s most notorious international terrorist — and the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on New  York and Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama issued the order after examining months of intelligence-gathering. Our anti-terror effort found bin Laden in a compound in Abbattobad, Pakistan. The president then issued the order to take bin Laden out.

The team performed flawlessly. There were no casualties on our side of the fight.

The president made a gutsy call and to his great credit, praised the work of our nation’s anti-terrorist efforts that began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

The SEAL team delivered justice to Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. It could have gone badly, causing the president irreparable political harm.

***

Then a curious development arose not long after bin Laden’s death. One of the SEAL team members, Robert O’Neill, stepped forward to take credit for firing the shots that killed the despicable terrorist.

O’Neill’s public pronouncement drew immediate criticism from others in the military, notably those who serve in special forces such as the Army Green Berets, other SEALs and Air Force rescue commandos. They said O’Neill violated a code among those who serve in this high-risk, high-danger form of military service. That code is designed to protect the identities of those who actually pull the trigger on fatal shots. The Marine Corps calls it “espirit de corps,” or “spirit of the group.” No single team member should stand above or in front of the rest of the members of his team.

O’Neill violated that code by speaking out.

But now he’s coming to Amarillo later this month to speak at a public event designed to honor our nation’s veterans.

I am torn over this. O’Neill’s service as a SEAL deserves a nation’s eternal gratitude. I just wish organizers of the Amarillo event could have found a keynote speaker who hadn’t violated a code that aims to prevent our elite fighters from seeking individual glory.

‘Proud husband and father’ faces the music

Eric Greitens is trying to have it both ways.

The Republican governor of Missouri has now been accused of forcing himself onto a woman with whom he had a sexual relationship. He has admitted to an extramarital affair, but denies the sexual assault allegation.

Oh, but there’s more. Greitens, once a rising star in the GOP — a handsome former U.S. Navy SEAL and all that kind of thing — says his transgression has “nothing to do with governing,” that it is a totally private matter.

But … it isn’t. Not really.

You see, this “family values Republican” proclaimed on the campaign stump while running for his office that he is a “proud husband and father.” That’s right. He used his alleged pride in marriage and parenthood as a campaign hook. He sought to win the support of fellow proud spouses and parents who share his so-called traditional family ethic.

I have to offer the young man a piece of unsolicited advice about his path to high public office. It is that he shouldn’t have bragged in the open, out loud about being a proud hubby and dad while he was messing around with a woman to whom he was not married.

I keep thinking of former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, who made similar declarations about his ailing wife only to be shown to be a philanderer.

He, too, tried to have it both ways. It didn’t work for him. I cannot imagine how Eric Greitens can get away with it.

He is facing possible impeachment in Missouri. Hang on, dude. Your ride toward political oblivion is likely to get rather bumpy.

Disgusting.

‘Not who I am’? Are you kidding?

I never will understand the dodge that public figures utter when they’re revealed making hideous statements.

The latest comes from Carl Higbie, the former external affairs director for the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps.

A CNN investigation discovered that Higbie had made anti-Muslim, anti-gay, racist and sexist remarks. He reportedly said all these things in 2013. He has quit his post effective immediately.

Now he has resigned and issued a statement that said the following, in part: “I’m sorry. I’m not sorry that my words were published, I am sorry that I said them in 2013,” he wrote. “Those words do not reflect who I am or what I stand for, I regret saying them. Last night I informed the WH that I was resigning so as not to distract from POTUS’ many success. #noexcuses”

Read what he said here.

CNN reports further: Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and conservative media personality, was a surrogate for (Donald) Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, appearing on cable news and serving as the spokesman for the Trump-aligned Great America PAC. He was appointed to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in 2017 to direct the public image and messaging of the federal department that manages millions of Americans in volunteer services like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.

My question whenever I hear public figures say that their words “do not reflect who I am or what I stand for,” I feel compelled to ask: Did someone put a gun to your head and make you say those things? Did someone drug you, hypnotize you and cast a post-hypnotic suggestion on you? Is that a ventriloquist standing behind you?

This is not reflective only of the current crop of federal government appointees. Left-leaning entertainment personalities caught saying hideous things and behaving badly offer the same dodge, as do politicians of all stripes.

I won’t engage in psychobabble, seeking to explain why people say the things they do. I merely cannot accept the excuse people in the public eye use to suggest that their thoughtlessness somehow doesn’t reflect who they are.

Actually, it does.

Eric Greitens: latest casualty in ‘family values’ war

Don’t sit down, Gov. Eric Greitens. I’m going to talk about you for a moment.

This fellow is a Republican governor from Missouri. He’s been in office for only about a year. He also is making quite a name for himself.

He ran for office as a “family values” candidate. He once proclaimed his love for his wife and children and the happiness he feels at being a married man and father.

The former Navy SEAL — who was a Democrat until he switched parties in 2015 — was even discussed as a possible presidential candidate in 2020 or 2024.

Then came this: He fooled around with a woman other than his wife before he was elected governor. What’s even more troubling is that he allegedly threatened her if she blabbed about it.

The woman, who was married at the time, is now divorced from her husband. Greitens remains married to his wife. He admits to the affair, but denies threatening the woman with whom he took the tumble.

Family values …

Wow. What are we to make of political candidates who make such a big show of their marriage? How are we supposed to react when they get caught in the big lie? I take this kind of thing quite badly. It doesn’t go down well. Why? Because of the show politicians such as Greitens make when they actually boast about their marital fidelity on the campaign stump — as if someone keeping a vow he makes before God is worth a boast.

This clown reminds me of so many politicians who’ve proclaimed their love for the spouse only to be revealed to be philanderers.

Does the name John Edwards ring a bell? Edwards was the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee who campaigned across the land declaring his devotion to his late wife, Elizabeth — while he was messing around with a woman who later gave birth to a baby, courtesy of that relationship with Edwards.

This kind of revelation sickens me in the extreme. Gov. Greitens makes me sick, too, given that he made such a phony show of his marital devotion.

Politicians who lie about their faithfulness then deserve all the scorn they receive.

Now … you may sit down, Gov. Greitens. And may you disappear from the national political scene.

Where’s the battle plan, Mr. President?

“I know more about ISIS than the generals. Believe me.”

— Donald Trump, while campaigning for president in 2016

This is one of my favorite moments from the 2016 presidential campaign. Donald J. Trump sought to persuade his (now-shrinking) legions of fans that he was the man with the plan to fight the bad guys.

He won the election. Trump took command of our armed forces. The fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and other terror groups goes on.

Now, though, the president of the United States is angry. Those generals who have been engaged in this fight against terrorists haven’t defeated them yet. Our vaunted military hasn’t yet killed every single terrorist and brought those villainous organizations to their knees.

Trump’s reliance on “the generals” is a ruse, isn’t it? Doesn’t the commander in chief know more about how to fight ISIS and, I presume, other terrorists than they do? Were that the case, then where in the world is the presidential battle plan? Why doesn’t he reveal to the Pentagon brass how they should implement his strategy?

Reports have bubbled out of the White House that the president is dissatisfied with the progress of the Afghan War, which the United States has been fighting since 2001 in response to the 9/11 terror attack in the United States.

The president ought to consider settling down just a bit.

He has a fine man leading the Defense Department, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis. The new White House chief of staff is another retired Marine general, John Kelly. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is an active duty Army lieutenant general. He has two four-stars and a three-star general as critical parts of his national security team. They’re all brilliant military men.

They also are fighting a profoundly unconventional enemy. These terror groups took the fight to us on 9/11 and we have responded with precision, professionalism and cold calculation. Our nation’s counter-terrorism team tracked down Osama bin Laden and a SEAL/CIA team took him out, killed him dead.

Donald Trump clearly doesn’t “know more about ISIS” than the military professionals who provide him with advice and military counsel.

And, no, Mr. President, the United States is not “losing” the Afghan War. Everyone in America knew this would be a long slog when we went to war in Afghanistan.

If only the president simply would pay attention.

Barack Obama will deserve a high presidential ranking

This is it, dear reader. The hand-off from one president to another is upon us. With that, I believe it is time to assess the performance of the guy who’s leaving office and perhaps try to compare what I believe he accomplished to what was projected of him when he took office.

Bear in mind, bias is implicit in everything anyone says … particularly when it regards political matters. I have my bias, you have yours. Some of our bias might mesh. Much of it might not.

How has Barack Obama done as the 44th president of the United States of America? I’ll give him a B-plus, which is a pretty damn good grade, given what he faced eight years ago.

Let’s start with the economy. We were shedding three-quarters of a million jobs each month when the president was sworn in. What did he do? He got his then-Democratic Party majority in both congressional chambers to enact a sweeping stimulus package. It pumped a lot of money into the economy. It helped bail out major industries, such as the folks who make motor vehicles. Banks were failing. The failures tapered off and then ceased.

Was this a bipartisan effort? Hardly. Republicans declared their intention to block everything he tried. The economy would collapse even faster, they said. The stock market, which had cratered, would implode. What happened? The Dow Jones Industrial Average has tripled since then.

Job losses? They disappeared, too. In the eight years of the Obama presidency, the nation has added 11 million or so non-farm-payroll jobs. Unemployment that peaked at 10 percent shortly after Obama took office, now stands at 4.7 percent.

Has the recovery been even? Has it been felt across the spectrum? Not entirely. It is that unevenness that sparked the populist movement led in large part by none other than the master of decadence Donald J. Trump, who parlayed people’s fear into a winning presidential campaign strategy.

All in all? We’re in far better shape today than we were when Barack Obama took office.

National security anyone?

OK, let’s try these facts.

A SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011; we haven’t been victimized by a terrorist attack in the past eight years; we have killed thousands of terrorists around the world as our global war has continued; Obama and his diplomatic team negotiated a deal to prevent Iran from developing an nuclear weapon.

Yes, North Korea continues to pose threats. The president erred in saying he would act militarily if Syria crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons and then failed to act on his threat. We did a poor job of managing the Arab Spring that erupted in Libya and eliminated Moammar Gadhafi.

Immigration reform remains in the distance. Barack Obama has been all-time champion of deportation of illegal immigrants, despite complaints from his foes that he is soft on that issue. And, of course, I believe he is correct to suggest that building a wall is contrary to “who we are as Americans.”

In an area related to national security, I would like to point out that we’ve all but eliminated our dependence on fossil produced in the Middle East. I don’t want to overstate the president’s role here, as much of that is due to private industry initiative. Federal tax breaks, though, have made alternative energy production more feasible, which has reduced our dependence on fossil fuels.

Domestic issues?

Obama’s foes said he would launch raids on Americans’ homes, seeking to take away our guns. It hasn’t happened. There was never any realistic threat that it would.

The president did a 180 on gay marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court — citing the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution — made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

And, oh yes, the Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance to 20 million citizens who couldn’t afford it otherwise. The ACA is in jeopardy as GOP members of Congress want to repeal it. They don’t have a replacement bill lined up. Obama has said he’d support any improvement to the ACA that would come forth. Is it perfect? No. The president admitted this past weekend that he and his team fluffed the launch of healthcare.gov, which was a huge error.

Barack Obama didn’t bridge the racial divide that splits Americans. The first African-American president perhaps misjudged the national mood; maybe he was too hopeful.

However, that this brilliant man was elected president in the first place in 2008 with substantial majorities in both the popular and Electoral College votes — and then re-elected — tells me that we’ve come a long way from the time when even his candidacy would have been considered unthinkable.

I’m proud to have been in his corner for the past eight years. I haven’t agreed with every single decision he has made … just the vast majority of them. He has made me proud, too, at the way he has conducted himself and the way his family has adjusted to living in that bubble known as the White House.

Millions of Americans will wish him well as he and his beautiful family depart on Friday.

As for the future, well … we cannot predict it with any more certainty than many Americans did when Barack Obama took the stage. Let’s just hope for the best.

Say it again, Trump: ISIS is ‘winning’ … seriously?

adnani

Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is dead — reportedly.

Who is this guy, Adnani? Oh, he’s the No. 2 man in the Islamic State hierarchy. He’s one of the founders of ISIS. He’s believed to be the mastermind behind the recent terrorist attack in Paris.

Adnani apparently bought it in Aleppo, Syria, according to ISIS’s media arm.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/31/world/middleeast/al-adnani-islamic-state-isis-syria.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

This is a big deal, man. A real big deal, in fact.

It’s not clear yet how Adnani was killed. Was it an air strike by a manned jet fighter with an American or allied pilot at the stick? Was it by a drone strike?

Does this mean the end of the Islamic State? No.

However, it suggests — presuming Adnani’s death can be confirmed — that ISIS is in serious trouble.

Why mention this today? Well, we keep hearing from Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, that ISIS is “winning,” that U.S. forces can’t defeat this Islamic terrorist organization because the commander in chief, Barack Obama, refuses to link the terror organization to the religion it purports to represent.

Let’s review for a brief moment.

Osama bin Laden is dead; drone strikes have taken out al-Qaeda and ISIS leaders throughout the Middle East; our special operations forces — Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos and CIA operatives — are on the hunt constantly for the terrorist monsters.

We’re killing bad guys almost daily.

When we take out leaders of the Islamic State brain trust — such as Abu Muhammad al-Adnani — that’s a really big deal.

The fight will go on. Can we declare victory yet? Of course not. It is my sense, though, that we’re a lot closer to that moment than we were on 9/11.

Another terrorist leader reduced to powder

drone

Well, here we go again.

Another terrorist leader has been turned into dust. A U.S. drone strike hit Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour just inside the Pakistan border with Afghanistan.

Boom! He’s gone.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/afghan-leaders-see-taliban-leaders-death-as-hopeful-sign/ar-BBtk1Or?ocid=spartandhp

Intelligence and military leaders in the Pentagon and at CIA call Mansour’s death the most important since the SEALs took out Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

What does it mean in the grand scheme?

It means the Taliban — the cabal that the White House continues to say is not a terrorist organization — needs to find a new leader.

Mansour had been called one of the major obstacles to trying to persuade the Taliban to join in negotiations to achieve something akin to peace in Afghanistan.

“Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort,” Secretary of State John Kerry said. “He also was directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together.”

The strike illustrates once again that intelligence-gathering remains critical to the hunting down of these terrorist monsters.

Now … let’s go after the rest of them.