The killing of Osama bin Laden made SEAL Team 6 the stuff of legends, but a New York Times report says the special-ops unit has "transformed … into a global manhunting machine," with troubling claims that the once-elite team is now being overused for day-to-day death missions, carries out unnecessary civilian killings, and is almost impossible to keep tabs on, given its uber-secret status; the US government doesn't even publicly recognize its Team 6 name (it is officially the Naval Special Warfare Development Group). Oversight by the Joint Special Operations Command also appears lax, at best. "JSOC investigates JSOC, and that's part of the problem," an ex-military officer experienced in special ops says. Notes a Syracuse University expert on national security law: "If you're unacknowledged on the battlefield, you're not accountable."
The report is gruesome at times, citing stories of troops sneaking into militants' homes and killing them as they sleep, making sure they "slice and dice every major artery" to ensure death, and taking out civilians during undercover missions with the CIA. Critics say Team 6, trained to carry out the riskiest operations, shouldn't even be involved in some of these smaller-scale missions. "The most highly trained force in the world, chasing after street thugs," one ex-unit member scoffs. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey notes "they have become sort of a 1-800 number anytime somebody wants something done." And the Times notes more unit members have died over the past 14 years than in all years prior. "War is not this pretty thing that the United States has come to believe," a retired senior member of SEAL Team 6 tells the Times. "It's … one human being killing another human being for extended periods of time." (Read the entire Times piece.)