In the nearly two weeks since the U.S. operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, a near-constant stream of detailed information about the raid’s specifics has seeped out from White House officials, lawmakers, and pretty much anyone else with security clearance.
But that’s not how things were supposed to be, at least not according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out Bin Laden,” Gates told Marines at a Wednesday town hall at Camp Lejeune. “That all fell apart on Monday—the next day.”
If true, the comments may help explain, in part, why the White House struggled so mightily to keep its story straight in the immediate aftermath of Bin Laden’s killing. But it also paints the picture of an undisciplined administration that has been unable to keep those in the know from spilling details that many in the military community would prefer to be kept silent.
The White House announced last week that it was done briefing reporters on the specifics of the mission, but that has done little to stop the ongoing flow of new details from being reported. The latest major leak came Thursday night, when CBS News gave a detailed play-by-play of what the Navy SEAL team’s helmet cameras captured during the raid.
Taken as a whole, the constant leaks have left some officials worried that the government has already said too much. The National Journal reports Friday that several “administration officials, intelligence policymakers, and military planners” are worried that “the rich level of detail provided to reporters, even by authorized spokespeople, may compromise the government’s ability to conduct a similar operation in the future.”