- - Monday, February 1, 2016

Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and future commander of U.S. Central Command, sent a letter in early December to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter requesting that the executive branch stop disclosing details of special operator missions for political gain.

“I am concerned with increased public exposure of SOF activities and operations, and I assess that it is time to get our forces back into the shadows,” Votel wrote, reports Foreign Policy. Votel added that discussing operations makes it more difficult for commandos to conduct those missions, and he “requested the department support him with an approach to avoid public discussion of SOF activities,” the official said, paraphrasing the brief memo.

Despite the fact that publicizing special operations mission details and tactics can get operators killed and risks mission failure, the Obama White House has been quick to release details of SOF activities. The most famous example is the raid to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Then Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, severely criticized the White House for releasing details about the raid.

Gates, in his memoir, blasts the administration for discussing “techniques, tactics, and procedures the SEALs had used” in the raid that killed bin Laden — despite promises not to divulge details of the operation. The White House and CIA “just couldn’t wait to brag and to claim credit,” Gates wrote in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

Recently, the White House announced that approximately 200 special operators were being deployed to the Syrian theater to fight the Islamic State. Secretary of Defense Carter stated to Congress, this “puts everyone on notice. You don’t know at night who is going to be coming into the window.”

Congressional leaders heavily criticized the Obama administration for leaking classified material to Hollywood for the production of the film, Zero Dark Thirty, which detailed the Bin Laden raid. The White House said they would ‘look into’ these allegations but no public conclusions regarding this matter were made. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta was accused of publicly released classified information about the raid during a private awards ceremony.

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