Case Study In Cultural Ethics Rot: “Bin Laden Shooter” Robert O’Neill

Dead, but still helping to corrupt our culture...

Yes, dead, but still helping to corrupt our culture…

Do you remember all those World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans who published books and gave interviews taking personal credit for the successes of the United Armed Services? No, neither do I, because there weren’t very many. The ethical culture of military organizations has always been that the unit is what matters, not the individual. For a soldier to seek credit, accolades and celebrity through his own disclosures was regarded as disgraceful conduct, and a betrayal of military honor and tradition.

Those values, and the important larger cultural values that they reinforce, are crumbling rapidly. Former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, one of many U.S. special forces members to storm Osama bin Laden’s compound on May 2, 2011, confirmed to The Washington Post that he was the unnamed SEAL who fired the fatal bullet at the terrorist leader. His decision to make himself an instant celebrity and speaker circuit star comes nearly two years after another Seal in the mission, Matt Bissonnette, published his account of the raid, “No Easy Day.” The Post says that O’Neill has endured “an agonizing personal struggle, as he weighed concerns over privacy and safety against a desire to have a least some control over a story that appeared likely to break, with or without his consent.” There is no struggle if O’Neill accepted that fact that his ethical obligation is to shut up, and not dishonor his colleagues, his profession and his country by choosing celebrity over preserving a vital ethical standard.

Will future Seals jeopardize the success of their missions as each tries to deliver the “money shot” that will literally result in millions? Why wouldn’t they, now that soldiers are absorbing the American culture’s obsession with cashing in and becoming famous as the primary objective of human existence? Like all ethical standards, the tradition of soldiers neither seeking individual credit nor wanting it had strong practical reasons for its existence. A military unit is the ultimate team, and no team can function at maximum efficiency if the members regard themselves as competing for glory. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Day: Rear Admiral Sean Pybus

“We do NOT advertise the nature of our work, NOR do we seek recognition for our actions. Today, we find former SEALs headlining positions in a Presidential campaign; hawking details about a mission against Enemy Number 1; and generally selling other aspects of NSW training and operations.  For an Elite Force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so.”

—-Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, in a letter sent to all members of the Special Operations community telling  them to stop revealing information about their secret operations. The letter was sent out as “No Easy Day,” a Navy Seal’s unauthorized account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, hit the book stores.

The letter is said to be the beginning of a concerted effort by the military to discourage an accelerating trend among Navy SEALs of cashing in on their notoriety and exploits.

Good luck. When a culture based on professionalism, sacrifice, discretion and honor meets a larger culture that values none of those things as much as celebrity, publicity, personal aggrandizement and financial rewards, the results are pre-ordained, and the key word is corruption. The SEALs won’t be able to fix themselves unless they can figure out how to fix America, and compared to that, finding bin Laden was a walk in the park.

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Facts: NBC

Graphic: By Hero

Bin Laden Aftermath Ethics: Deadly Expediency and Incompetence at the Top

Psst! Joe! SHUT UP! You're killing people!

Secretary of Defense William Gates told a group of Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that the Navy SEALs who took out Osama bin Laden were concerned about their safety and that of their families. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death  exposed President Obama’s inner circle, not for the first time, as inept and reckless in the responsibilities and priorities of leadership.

Mere days after the successful raid on bin Laden’s compound, Vice President Biden spontaneously announced the name of one of the men in charge of the SEALs team at a fundraiser in Washington, saying, Continue reading

Why the SEALS Must Stand Trial

It is one of those stories where Americans have to get stop thinking with their guts and use their brains instead. Guts can be useful, but not this time.

Three Navy SEALs who captured a highly sought terrorist in Iraq are facing court martials because of allegations that they abused him—speaking of guts, they supposedly punched him in his. It is unfortunate that the SEALS are being prosecuted rather than decorated, and it makes the Navy look unappreciative of their own men. The terrorist, Ahmed Hashim Abed, is believed to be behind the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. Yes, capturing him was a good thing. Continue reading