Admiral William Harry McRaven is a distinguished former U.S. Naval Officer. McRaven retired from the U.S. Navy on August 28, 2014, after more than 37 years of service, and went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Texas System. During his naval career, he has been the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, as well as of Special Operations Command Europe. In addition, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre. His awards and decorations are far too numerous to list here but include a bronze star and a meritorious service medal.
In 2011, McRaven spent months obtaining data, then organizing and overseeing the special ops raid, Operation Neptune Spear, that ended in the killing of 9/11 mastermind Usama bin Laden. I have not found a single black mark on his record, and from all indications he served his country admirably for 37 years.
Now, however, Admiral McRaven has become the latest target of the Fool on the Hill, Donald Trump. Why? Well, back in August, Admiral McRaven had the temerity to express support for former CIA Director John O. Brennan, whose security clearance had recently been revoked by the Trump Administration. On August 16th, he penned the following Open Letter to Donald Trump that was published in The Washington Post:
Dear Mr. President:
Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.
Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.
Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.
A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.
Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.
If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.
I’m not sure why Trump waited three full months before firing back … perhaps he had forgotten, or perhaps his advisors quashed prior attempts to throw mud at McRaven, but in a November 18th interview with Chris Wallace of Fox ‘News’, he was reminded. Here’s what Trump had to say about an honourable, much decorated hero …
Chris Wallace: Bill McRaven, Retired Admiral, Navy Seal, 37 years, former head of U.S. Special Operations —
Trump: Hillary Clinton fan.
Chris Wallace: Special Operations —
Trump: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.
Chris Wallace: Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.
Trump: OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton, uh, backer and an Obama-backer and frankly —
Chris Wallace: He was a Navy Seal 37 years —
Trump: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him —
Chris Wallace: You’re not even going to give them credit —
Trump: For years —
Chris Wallace: for taking down Bin Laden?
Trump: They took him down but – look, look, there’s news right there, he lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.
Trump claims to love the military, but … must we assume that he only loves those members of our military who are staunchly “pro-Trump”? That’s how it seems. I don’t imagine the military has much great love for Trump, either, as he is a draft-dodger and has promised much in the way of donations to veterans’ organizations that never materialized.
Most people, whether republican or democrat, veteran or not, were appalled by Trump’s remarks.
- “This is disgusting!” tweeted Frances Townsend, who worked as a counterterrorism adviser for President George W. Bush. She said McRaven is “among the finest officers I have had the privilege to work with.”
- Leon Panetta, who was CIA director when bin Laden was killed in the 2011 operation and later served as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama, said Trump owed an apology to McRaven “and all of the special operation forces and intelligence professionals who planned and executed one of the most important counter-terrorism missions in our nation’s history.”
- Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Trump’s comment is “really a slam at the intelligence community” and “reflects, I think, his complete ignorance” about what was involved in hunting down bin Laden.
- “I don’t know if Adm. William McRaven shares my political views or not,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said on Twitter. “But I do know that few Americans have sacrificed or risked more than he has to protect America & the freedoms we enjoy.”
Predictably, however, the Republican National Committee backed Trump’s unconscionable remarks:
“Worth noting after recent comments: Retired Adm. William McRaven was reportedly on Hillary Clinton’s short list for Vice President in 2016. He’s been critical of President @realDonaldTrump— even dating back to the 2016 campaign. He’s hardly a non-political figure.”
Being critical of Donald Trump is hardly grounds for condemnation, given that more than half of this nation are critical of Trump on a quite consistent basis, and at least 60% would just as soon see him floating on an ice floe somewhere in the Arctic Sea. And while McRaven’s name reportedly was on a list of 39 potential candidates for Hillary’s running mate, the Admiral did not endorse any candidate in the 2016 election. Even if he had, it doesn’t give Trump or the GOP any right to criticize a man who has had a far more noble career, more worthy life than Trump, or likely anybody else in the GOP.
Once again, Donald Trump shows the world his lack of compassion, his ignorance, and his arrogance.