Former SEAL: Obama administration leaks ‘a personal insult,’ will ‘get Americans killed’
TAMPA, Fla. — Former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith said Thursday that the Obama administration is “leaking like a sieve” about the exploits of American special forces, and that special operations are being weakened to the point where “it’s going to get Americans killed.”
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Republican or Democrat,” Smith told The Daily Caller at the Republican National Convention, “but on the field of battle if the enemy finds out what intelligence we have, they have time to change tactics. Or they sidestep us completely because they know we’re coming.”
“Then we don’t get to fight them overseas. They come here and they kill Americans.”
Smith is a spokesman for the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, a non-profit group of military veterans whose TV ads have been critical of President Barack Obama for quickly claiming credit after SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
While some political observers believe Obama’s hastily called press event unintentionally compromised American intelligence collected during the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Smith said he wasn’t certain.
“Was it unintentional?” he asked. “A leak can be a mistake, or it can be intentional for either political gain or tactical or strategic advantage.”
Smith spent nearly six years as a Navy SEAL, and said he left the service when his superiors wanted him to leave the active military theater and train future SEALs instead. “I said ‘get me back out there,'” he recounted.
“I protected people for a living — both Americans and non-Americans alike,” he told TheDC.
Smith said he was frustrated with the Obama administration’s failure to protect Shakeel Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped SEAL Team Six identify bin Laden, then the leader of the al-Qaida global terror network.
Pakistani authorities arrested Afridi shortly after the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He was convicted in May on treason charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
“What do you think that tells other potential intelligence sources around the world?” Smith asked. “It says, ‘Don’t give them anything. Don’t trust them or you’ll be tortured and your family will be wiped off the face of the earth.’”
The White House, said Smith, should respect the quiet dignity of special operators and keep mum about what they do.
“Stop the leaks,” he said. “Silent professionals within special operations don’t seek accolades for achievements. They go back into the shadows.”
Obama, he added, “could take a lesson from George W. Bush, when he got Saddam Hussein.”
“The original message coming out of the press was that ‘the U.S. army got him.’ Then it came out weeks later that some kid noticed Saddam’s spider hole and told a soldier.”
“And it was a Delta Force guy. But they never sought or claimed credit for the work.”
Smith came back quickly to Obama’s media availability after the bin Laden “kill raid,” saying the intelligence information collected in Abbottabad most likely went to waste.”
“If al-Qaida doesn’t know he [bin Laden] is gone, their hackles don’t go up,” he explained.
“We had a great opportunity but the administration put all that information out there. The chance of destroying al-Qaida completely was given up within a couple of hours after the raid was over.”
Smith’s voice grew louder and cracked.
“All the work that special operators have suffered for, and given their lives for, was rendered pointless,” he said, nearly shouting over a lunchtime din at the Tampa Convention Center. “I take it as a personal insult. These kinds of leaks kill people.”
“Sorry,” he said, lowering his voice. “I will get emotional about this. It happens.”