During World War II, posters displaying the slogan “Loose lips might sink ships” reminded service members and civilians alike to avoid indiscreet discussions about secure information that could be exploited by the enemy and used against America during wartime. People understood that freedom of speech did not give them license to spill their guts because national security was vital to victory and victory was paramount to America’s survival.
But that was then. Today, we have an administration that embraces a “Loose Lips For Political Expediency” philosophy. (No, I’m not talking about Vice President Biden.) Case in point: A headline I read the other day titled “SEALs becoming [the] face of Obama’s defense strategy.” Say, what?
Until this administration drew them to the light (like a bug zapper), SEAL Team Six was, for all intents and purposes, a figment of our imaginations — the stuff little (and big) boys dream about, and a terrorist’s biggest nightmare. This group of “quiet professionals” is quite content doing their job backstage without a spotlight and would prefer to keep it that way. Nonetheless, they were mentioned yet again in the State of the Union address. Obama claimed the mission was successful ” because every member of that unit trusted each other” knowing someone was “watching your back.”
Obama was partially correct, but someone with a bit more (38 years) experience has another take as to why the operation was successful. Admiral Eric Olson, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and former Navy SEAL, spoke to a group at Aspen Institute last summer. Olson explained the raid was successful “because nobody talked about it.”
Oh the shock and awe one must experience after accomplishing such an extraordinary feat only to discover your commander-in-chief cannot “watch your back” because he won’t keep his lips zipped. (To the unaware: unzipped lips are worse than unzipped pants. Ask Bill Clinton.)
In the address, Obama accurately quantified getting bin Laden was apolitical and said everyone in the Situation Room was unified in purpose. He failed to mention the “Loose Lips” pact agreed upon by those in the room. (I guess he left it out because it didn’t last long.) Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said everyone agreed to “not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden.” Gates said it “all fell apart on Monday, the next day.”
What about the word “secret” does the Obama administration not get? They are now under investigation by the Inspectors General of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) per a January 5, 2012 press release by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Representative Peter King (R-NY).
The investigation is underway because the administration purportedly granted “high level access” of information to Hollywood filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and Sony Pictures for the making of a film about the bin Laden operation. King claims the information may put operators and their families in danger and said some “in the intelligence and special operation communities express support” for the probe.
In earlier correspondence to DOD and CIA Inspectors General, King questioned another alleged controversial decision, which by all intents and purposes blew the cover for special operators, when filmmakers were invited to attend “a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters.”
While everyone involved rejects the idea of foul play for political gain, it should be noted the film was originally scheduled to be released just three weeks before the November 2012 elections, which could have been an “October surprise” of Chicago politics proportion.
Obama himself said taking out bin Laden was not political, but actions subsequently emphasize the importance of having a person of sound character and disciplined tongue in the Oval Office. Had one of those been in charge, he’d have mostly like gained the trust of these clandestine cohorts by congratulating them in private — because they do what they do for love of the country, not for glory or praise. If they needed that kind of stuff, they’d run for president.
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Reach Susan at susan @susanstamperbrown.com, her Web site www.susanstamberbrown.com and Facebook.