Esquire is out today with a article that is garnering mountains of attention. The subject? The story of the SEAL who shot Bin Laden and his miserable personal life after leaving the SEALs. The story (read it here) paints a picture of a traumatized warrior trying to find his way in the civilian world, but is lost. I suspect some read the piece and feel that the Government ought to do something for this young man. Phil Bronstein, the author of the piece, evokes great sympathy for the SEAL who double tapped Bin Laden.

But let me offer you a different take. I think Bronstein’s piece is very accurate and, coupled with the book by Matt Bissonette, provides a detailed account of what happened on the ground in taking out Bin Laden. But Bronstein wimps out in pressing the SEAL on self-pity bullshit. Here is a representative snippet from the Esquire article:

Even before he retired, the Shooter’s new business plan dissolved when the SEAL Team 6 members who formed it decided to go in different directions, each casting for a civilian professional life that’s challenging and rewarding. The stark realities of post-SEAL life can make even the blood of brothers turn a little cold.

“I still have the same bills I had in the Navy,” the Shooter tells me when we talk in September 2012. But no money at all coming in, from anywhere.

“I just want to be able to pay all those bills, take care of my kids, and work from there,” he says. “I’d like to take the things I learned and help other people in any way I can.”

Boo hoo. Am I heartless? Well, let me be a SEALS advocate. I would like to ask this young man some tough questions.

I’d love to buy the boy a beer. Here is what I would tell him:

Dude, when you jumped from a plane as a SEAL, who packed your parachute? You did. Right? Or, at least you ensured that the riggers did their job correctly. You always made sure you had a functioning parachute before hurling yourself from the safety of the aircraft.

So, when you decided that you no longer wanted to remain on active duty with the SEALs, why did you decide not to plan for the next step? Why did you jump to the private sector with no parachute whatsoever. At no time in your successful military career did you move forward without a plan. Hell, your attack on the Bin Laden compound followed extensive rehearsals. Your entire training as a SEAL was predicated on the understanding that perfect prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.

It is time for you to man up and get back to practicing the principles that made you a successful frogman.

Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you out. You made the choice to leave. If that’s what you wanted, your choice must be honored and respected. But inherent in making that choice was the assumption on the part of your friends and superiors that you had thought about next steps. Clearly you did not. And that’s on you.

We are now looking up the ass of a dead horse. We cannot change what you have done. It is what it is. We can only change going forward. The task of defining your dream and pursuing it is yours and yours alone. No one–not your wife nor your children nor your friends–can decide for you what your dream is. That is the choice you now have to make.

In reading Bronstein’s piece I cannot rule out the likely probability that the SEAL shooter is suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. The poor decision making demonstrated in how he left the SEALS and entered the civilian world does not inspire confidence in a prospective employer. And, because of the psychological damage from so much combat, he is not to be blamed because he is a victim.

That last thing this kid needs is misplaced sympathy. He does not need a crying towel. He is in the drowning end of the pool with his hands and feet tied. He has been trained to deal with that contingency, and he needs to reconnect with that part of his core that pulled him throw the drowning exercise.

I have enormous sympathy for this warrior. He can sleep well at night knowing that he was a squared away frogman. But that’s living in the past. He now has to wake up and get on with life. Pulling the trigger is history.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
  • Ian McCloud

    Larry Johnson, you are being particularly harsh. Do you even know this Seal? What qualifies you to make this judgement comment? His situation seems no different then many of our young warriors who leave the service.

    • Larry Johnson

      Don’t need to know him. The problems identified in the article are of another source. I do know what I am talking about.

      • Ian McCloud

        What is your point? Ranting against an American hero because he is having a tough time finding a job or figuring out what he wants to do?

        • Larry Johnson

          The point is that his story is bullshit with respect to his sobbing about not having a job. He chose of his own free will to leave the Navy before he would have qualified for a pension. But, since you love doing political fellatio on Obama, how could he have trouble finding a job since the Obama recovery is working such magic?

  • Cosmo Smallpiece

    It’s funny, the folks that first started the Pirate Bay website had a site taking the piss out of Yanquis dying stupidly in Iraq (wasn’t that all of them you may ask). The US State Dept. made them take it down, even though it was hosted in Sweden – so much for free-speech eh?

  • Retired_from_SPOnaj

    Hey Pop! Check out this CBSTVLA News item about how Dorner’s mom was watching it all on TV while sipping wine and munching chips in a Mexican restaurant. Mother of the Year!

  • Popsmoke

    Off topic….

    OK now WTF? These guys reading the WACO hostage barricade playbook? Now come on? I have no love loss for Dorner but this reekes of a type of judicial killing…

    “According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loud speaker, urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin “one by one, like peeling an onion,” a law enforcement official said.

    By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard.”

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Actually, it’s nonjudicial killing of the type practiced by our leader and example, the President. Just like extramarital fellatio, if the President does it, it’s OK.


    manhunt for California killing suspect has centered on a cabin near big bear. several deputies have been wounded.

    I hope they take him alive. he does not need to be and should not become a martyr. For all his whining about racism, he had no problem killing a black couple because he want to cause the girl’s father pain. he had no problem ambushing two cops because they existed and wore a uniform.
    All the fools that have sympathy for him should have to see the true person. he is nothing to be admired

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Actually, I’d rather they just finish him off if it can be done without any officers or innocents being killed or wounded. Any martyrdom would be short lived, and as a California taxpayer, I have to foot the bill for keeping him alive.

      • HELENK2

        I understand what you mean. but you know these dummies out here would make him a hero when all he is is a coward. real great at ambush not so much at looking in the mirror and trying to find why he failed. It is always somebody else’s fault

        • Retired_from_SPOnaj

          It would appear to be a moot point now. I wonder if his final moments in that flaming cabin were a precursor to his eternal fate.

          • HELENK2

            i hope so

          • Popsmoke

            What bothers me is why they decided to use hot gas rather than cold gas in a wooden structure?

            • HELENK2
              • Popsmoke

                Yeah…well here is my issue. We will never know if the cops tried to talk him out or not. They had him pinned down where he could not move. What was the rush? Why use hot gas with a wooden structure? Cold gas would have basically done the same thing without the fire risk? Ok maybe he arfed himself. But with the FLIR gear they have they knew what was going on inside.
                While i feel no loss for this guy. I am troubled by how this barricade situation ended.
                Where the cops afraid because they are not trained to take on one of there own?
                GOSH…kill lists, drones, cops doing gun battle against thier own and doing 140 rounds in a school yard no less. Now this?

                • Retired_from_SPOnaj

                  Tried to talk him out? Not a chance. They wanted the guy dead and any evidence other than that supporting their narrative destroyed. And that’s what happened.

            • Retired_from_SPOnaj

              Once Dorner started killing his own, he sealed his fate. The choice of weaponry was no accident. The intention was to kill without pity or mercy, and that’s what they did. Of course, the autopsy will say that he shot himself instead of face the flames. California big city cops and sheriffs cover their tracks well on a departmental level.

  • MG6
    • DianaLC

      While I never felt that one was in any way a person who should be POTUS, and while I feel there are probably numerous reasons to impeach him, I have come to the conclusion that all those in Congress who might get this ball rolling are also totally incompetent and unworthy of being were they are.
      I just want a government that works.

  • Popsmoke

    OT…. But this is a WTF article….and we worry about who has what assault weapons?

    “But when the smoky haze — caused by rapid fire of nearly 140 bullets in less than 30 seconds — dissipated, it soon became clear that more than a dozen officers had been firing at one another across a middle school parking lot in East Cleveland.”

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      Sounds like an intramural…

      • Popsmoke

        Thank goodness these idiots did not kill anyone, especially their brothers in arms. Does not instill confidence though….

  • Popsmoke

    Why not just re-up?

    • Retired_from_SPOnaj

      That was the question that I was asking myself. There are SEALS who are missing hands and feet that ship over in the Navy, a couple who are even still in the teams (incredible willpower to run the O-course and the PFT, those). There is more to this story somewhere.

      • Popsmoke

        ” There is more to this story somewhere.”
        You bet….

  • Barb Bf

    Pitty for Naval Seal? NO

    Is anyone sympathetic to those who flew into the Twin Towers?

    The only difference is the number of those murdered.

  • MG6
  • foxyladi14

    I hope he reads this excellent piece Larry.

  • getfitnow

    o/t — our ‘smart power’ at work:

    Late Breaking News!

    North Korea says it ‘successfully’ conducted third underground nuclear test at a northern test site. (CNN)

    • Popsmoke

      And we worry about Iran??!

    • FloridaFI

      Headline should read; North Korea Successfully Conducts Test of an Iranian Nuclear Device.

  • getfitnow

    When I first saw this story, I thought, even I know you need 20 yrs in to be eligible for pension. In any event, here’s a update to the story. Bottom line, DON’T TRUST THE MSM to do their job.

    • foxyladi14

      Sad story. God bless him, his family, and all our troops and veterans.

  • no_longer_a_democrat

    Interesting post.

    I work with a couple of vets, they are vietnam vet, I gotta admit, I didn’t even know they were vietnam vets they never ever brought it up….. until John Kerry ran in 2004, then I heard them voice their opinions (they were not fans of Kerry or neocons)

    I’m very grateful to vets, and I think companies that prioritize hiring vets should be commended and more companies should do it, not an affirmative action type thing, but instead, if there is a job opening, and 2 people are well equally qualified, i think the vet candidate should get the job, I don’t mean a law for this, I don’t like forcing companies to do this, but the companies themselves should want to have this policy, I know walmart is doing this, and bravo to them.

    I’m curious, how old is this man? from what I’ve read and interviews seen from other retired navy seals, they all seem to be in the mid thirties, late thirties range, since we don’t know who this man is, is that about the age he might be?

    He sounds less than 40, so a young man, who has accomplished so much in his life and to achieve it displayed so much discipline, I hope he sees that and achieves even more success in his non military life, he is clearly capable of it.

    on a side note I do find it interesting the movie based on all this will make millions, yet they will give nothing to the vets and people who accomplished that mission. Not surprising, lefty narcissist hollywood liberals, always thinking about themselves while lecturing others!

  • buzzlatte3

    The military is in some ways a nanny state. When I worked on an AFB – the whines from non-pilots were always about not getting enough. Be it Tri-care, BX privileges, or base housing. Yet, they drove hotter and better cars than I did and their kids sported OshKosh . Yet they were terrified living off base. Why am I not surprised at this story…

  • Retired_from_SPOnaj

    Well said. I ask for no “quarter” (i.e., assistance) from life and I receive none. I do provide a hand up to brothers and sisters who are genuinely deserving to help them get back up on their feet just like I have helped, and have been helped, getting on a vehicle or helicopter. The help lasts about as long, but it is also about as effective.
    It would appear that some SEALS, just like some intelligence officers, have unsubstantiated illusions about the greeness of the grass in the private sector. Considering the current occupant of the White House and the constant indoctrination of the media, this is somewhat understandable.


    I brought this up from down stairs

    sometimes just someone telling him to get off his ass and do something is just what is needed.
    sometimes the pointing the way forward is just
    what is needed.
    sometimes just suggestions are just what are needed.
    How many times has someone said to you , did you think of this or tried that.
    I agree with you that charity is the last thing that is needed. but helping him find a job or helping him find the places to get qualified for different jobs would help

  • HARP2

    Just dosen`t seem right that a Senator serves one term and gets a pension for life, yet someone of his caliber is left for the wolves.

    • Larry Johnson

      Correct answer is that Senators and members of Congress should not get pensions. It is supposed to be public service rather than having the public service them for life.

  • zaine_ridling

    Wow, go Larry. I say this to so many vets loitering at my Walmart, asking for handouts merely because they “served.” While I’m grateful, I remind them that enlisting doesn’t guarantee you a life of welfare payments. Join the rest of us in building a better America, because we sure as hell need their help.

    • elizabethrc

      “Enlisting doesn’t guarantee you a life of welfare payments”.
      I would also include in that statement that just being alive doesn’t entitle anyone to a life of welfare payments.
      At least this young man had the dedication and courage to serve. What can be said of the masses who sit home, not looking for work, not wanting to work but who expect, even demand that our tax dollars pay for their indolence? This pathetic segment of our society will have no part in building a better anything, much less America.
      That needs to be addressed pronto.
      I fully expect, now that his plight has been told, that donations or a fund will start for him. Intended or not, he may be smarter than the rest of us.

      • zaine_ridling

        Yet they’re too lazy to walk right into Walmart and start working for minimum wage/28 hours a week like the rest of us. Welcome back to the country you defended; it pretty much sucks if you’re not wealthy. Nothing against the vets, just stop thinking you should be first in line for everything — ON TOP of what you’ve already been given. Just because you served doesn’t make you better than the rest of us.