A rumor from late 2012 being peddled on a right-wing website is going viral again — despite its lack of evidence.
More than 25 Navy SEALs who were part of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden have been killed
According to conspiracy-theory-peddling website BeforeItsNews.com, "over 25" Navy SEALs who were involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden are now dead. This report from December of 2012 provides specifics on only two SEALs who have died, but nonetheless declares that "over 20 Navy SEALs are now dead who killed Bin Laden" before alleging that the entire Bin Laden mission was a hoax — a common theory advanced by certain fringe websites. With the recent death of a Navy SEAL in a parachute-training accident, the story is being shared extensively on social media. But several leaps in logic are made by the story's premise. Here are the facts.
SEALS ON THE MISSION, VERSUS SEALS NOW DEAD
According to the New York Times, "79 commandos and a dog" were involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- though other reports peg the number at approximately 24. Since the raid, SEAL Team Six — the team that conducted the Bin Laden raid — has lost several members due to combat and training accidents, though none of them have been confirmed as being specifically part of the Bin Laden raid.
The largest loss to the team took place in April of 2011 when Taliban fighters shot down a U.S. helicopter and killed 22 members of SEAL Team Six, along with 16 other U.S. troops. None of those SEALs, however, were reported to have worked on the Bin Laden raid. Separately, the BeforeItsNews piece references Cmdr. Job W. Price, who committed suicide in December of 2012, as being another person connected to the Bin Laden raid who has died. This accusation doesn't hold up because Price was reportedly part of SEAL Team Four, not Six, and was not part of the Bin Laden raid.
The most recent death tied to SEAL Team Six took place on March 28, when Special Warfare Operator Chief Brett D. Shadle was killed in a parachute training accident when he collided in midair with another SEAL over the Arizona desert. He was later identified as being a part of Team Six, though it's unclear if he was actually assigned to the Bin Laden mission.
NAVY KEEPS SEAL DETAILS SECRET
The problem with completely confirming or disproving the accusation that so many SEAL Team Six members have died is that the U.S. military typically does not disclose which units special forces members work on, even after their deaths. In interviews with MSN News, spokespeople at the U.S. Navy, Pentagon and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) each refused to comment on the BeforeItsNews article or the claim that 25 members of the Bin Laden raid team have died.
U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Col. Tim Nye tells MSN News that military policy makes it almost impossible to publicly confirm the number of SEALs killed from a particular unit.
"We have certain units that are classified and when individuals of those units die we follow all of the (Department of Defense) regulations of U.S. law; we announce the deaths, but we do not by practice give the classified organizations out," Nye says. "So we don't have a list of who are all our classified guys and who's alive and who's not."
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