Ryan Zinke
Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke Hypocritically Condemns Butte bin Laden Shooter; Montana Media Continues to Give Him a Free Pass

Maybe now that the election is over the Montana political press will finally cover the story about Congressman-elect Ryan Zinke’s brazen, hypocritical disclosure of operational details about the Navy SEAL Team Six raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. After all, Zinke not only was the first source to confirm the details of the operation to press across the country, but he’s now condemning the Butte SEAL Team Six member who is taking credit for killing bin Laden.


While Zinke would not talk to the Montana press about his allegations, he did find time to speak the the Daily Mail, telling the London newspaper that even mentioning the details of a raid threatens national security. From the Mail:

Sensitive operations should remain secret,’ said Ryan Zinke, who is due to take his place in the House of Representatives in Washington in January.
‘It should be known as an operation conducted by US Special Forces and never disclosed what was involved,’ added Zinke….
Zinke, 53, would not explicitly criticize O’Neill for his decision to go public, saying he does not comment on Special Forces operations.
‘My feeling is the taxpayer has a right to know that such forces exist and they have a commitment to excellence and they should know how much resources are put behind them.
‘But the specifics of operations are a matter of national security and should remain that way,’ added Zinke….

According to Zinke, then, even naming the team involved, not to mention giving operational details, threatens national security, and he “does not comment on Special Forces operations.”   Back in 2012, Zinke even claimed  that naming SEAL Team Six was a crime that should result in criminal prosecution.

All of this ignores that Zinke himself was one of the first people, if not the first  running to the media to disclose not only the fact that Navy SEAL Team Six was involved, but to provide specific operational details about the size of the team and their likely strategy to enter the compound and kill bin Laden.

In the days after the raid, Zinke spoke to multiple newspaper reporters in Montana, a newspaper editor in Virginia, a TV News station in Spokane, NPR, and the New York Times, each time naming SEAL Team Six and providing information about the raid.

first wrote about this story in July of 2012. In October of that year  the Helena Vigilante covered the story, including a report from a Montana political reporter confirming that Zinke “freely talked” about Navy SEAL Team Six with him just hours after the raid was announced to the public.

Why the Montana political press refused to cover this story—and why they refuse to hold Zinke accountable now for hypocritically attacking another member of the military from Montana—is hard to understand until you remember that the state’s largest daily condemned Zinke’s opponent because Zinke joked about having water boarded people.

It would appear that, unless the New York Times writes a story fed to the paper by the Republican Party, the Montana press will not critically investigate candidates for public office. When Ryan Zinke embarrasses the state of Montana, as he almost assuredly will, the political press that let this dishonest, self-serving hack waltz into the US Congress without any real reporting about his ethical lapses, flip flops, or fundamental dishonesty should take most of the blame.


If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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