Robert J. O’Neill, a US Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden during the legendary 2011 raid on the former al-Qaida leader’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound, has pushed back on President Donald Trump’s criticism of his commander.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump called Bill McRaven, O’Neill’s former commander, “a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer,” in response to McRaven calling Trump’s attacks on the press the greatest threat to democracy he’d seen in his lifetime.
“I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” McRaven told CNN. “I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times.”
“I stand by my comment that the president’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime,” McRaven concluded.
Trump on Monday doubled down on his criticism of the 2011 raid, saying the US should have gotten bin Laden sooner. But O’Neill rushed to defend McRaven, a storied SEAL leader who led the shadowy Joint Special Operations Command at the time of the bin Laden raid.
“The mission to get bin Laden was bipartisan. We all wanted to get him as soon as we could,” O’Neill tweeted on Monday.
“ADM McRaven was born to lead this mission. I’ll follow him anywhere. If only people heard the real speech he gave the Team,” O’Neill continued.
Trump frequently touts the fact that his 2000 book “The America We Deserve” mentions Bin Laden in passing, but he did not predict that the al-Qaida leader would carry out the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Furthermore, Trump campaigned on destroying ISIS in its entirety, but ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has facilitated attacks on US soil like bin Laden did, remains at large. So does al-Qaida’s current head, Ayman al-Zawahiri.