Sheldon Richman Says Abolish Special Ops Forces

We are expected just to trust the government that these secretive operations kill bad guys only?

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Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr

The New York Times reported recently that while fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Navy's SEAL Team 6 carried out missions "that blurred the traditional lines between soldier and spy. The team's sniper unit was remade to carry out clandestine intelligence operations, and the SEALs joined Central Intelligence Agency operatives in an initiative called the Omega Program, which offered greater latitude in hunting adversaries. Team 6 has successfully carried out thousands of dangerous raids that military leaders credit with weakening militant networks." 

We are expected to trust the government that those operations kill bad guys only. But why should we, asks Sheldon Richman, when it has done so much to earn our distrust? The U.S. government has long downplayed the civilian deaths inflicted by drones, bombers, and ground operations. 

The Times quotes James G. Stavridis, retired admiral and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, who said, "If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don't want that out in public." By "bend the rules," Stavridis means, "going into undeclared war zones." So politicians need secretive military units to fight undeclared wars? That, writes Richman, would seem to violate the Constitution.

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