National Security

Who killed Bin Laden ?

May 2, 2011, 01H00 PKT 15H30 EST — Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Version 1.

The two trained and experienced US Special Forces DEVGRU commandos, better known as SEAL Team 6, crept up the stairs in the glow from their Night Vision goggles. Reconnaissance had been perfect, and it was known that not one of the four men had night vision goggles.

A head peeped around a doorway.

The point man blocked his respiration and squeezed the trigger of his suppressed H&K 416 assault rifle.

Two others pumped in several more rounds into the body.

Version 2.

The point man missed.

The number two dove and rolled, came up facing Bin Laden pushing a woman in front of him, and put rounds into the target.

In both versions, Ben Laden apparently died without a fight or a whisper.

During his lifetime he overawed the world and hurled defiance at the most powerful superpower in history. The Superpower’s commandos mythicized by Hollywood and on Television had to be provided with an address and adequate transport before they could live upto the legends spun around them.

 So it was a three-part operation: hunt and locate, transport successfully and then execute the Presidential Executive Order.

Without the success of the first two parts of the operation, the final part would have remained a theoretical exercise buoyed by hope. The CIA found the address and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment ensured stealthy arrival above the target.

Then the commandos did their job.

Professionals under contract, they flit silently in the shadows of strategic mechanisms, their lives depending on silence and invisibility. And they put their lives on the line with faith that their superiors and the nation they serve and protect will look after them.

A priori, a fair bargain but one which the current public squabble of who killed Mr. Bin Laden has brought under scrutiny.

In a contractual relationship, however, if one of the parties feels that the other has breached the legal or moral contract, it may seek redress of grievances by chosen, legal means. America’s silent warriors who feel they have been let down by their superiors have recourse to justice through the legal system.

By going public, the current spat between two former DEVGRU operators has reduced their latest known accomplishment to tabloid feed.

Since two wrongs don’t make a right, and revealing who killed Bin Laden breaches national security, challenging that claim in public reduces legend to farce.

A lose-lose situation for all concerned parties.

Before America’s vaunted Seals become an international laughing stock, the US government should take strong and immediate measures to ensure that compensation for their warriors’ services is institutional, immediate, publicized and well beyond mere semantics. At the same time, a special in-camera court needs to be constituted to hear and redress grievances of Special Forces operators.

Another Presidential Executive Order in addition to the one that sent these men to retrieve their nation’s prestige could satisfactorily solve the matter, were the Administration to find it as expedient as the one that launched Operation Neptune Spear.