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Biden did not leak identities of SEAL Team 6 while vice president

October 30, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Joe Biden, while vice president, leaked the identities of special ops SEAL Team 6 who captured Osama bin Laden. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, did not leak the names of those involved in the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader despite posts circulating widely on social media. 

THE FACTS: The claim, which has circulated before on social media, surfaced again this week following the death Saturday of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group, during a U.S. special operations raid. 

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The death of bin Laden, who was sought for the Sept. 11 attacks, was announced on May 1, 2011, after a Navy SEAL team raided his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing him, his son and several others. On May 3, 2011, Biden gave an address at the 50th anniversary dinner for the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank, where he mentioned the Navy SEAL team that killed bin-Laden. He first acknowledged the night’s honorees, including James Stavridis, a former Navy admiral, who he said would speak more about the Navy SEALs and their raid on bin Laden.

Biden went on to praise the team that carried out the mission, including the SEALs.  But he did not mention team members by name.  

“Folks, I’d be remiss also if I didn’t say an extra word about the incredible events, extraordinary events of this past Sunday,” he said. “As vice president of the United States, as an American, I was in absolute awe -- awe of the capacity and dedication of the entire team, both the intelligence community, the CIA, the SEALs. It just was extraordinary.” 

He added he was amazed that even though 16 members of Congress were briefed on the raid, nothing leaked. 

When President Barack Obama addressed the nation shortly after the raid he said that a “small team of Americans carried out the operation,” not naming the Navy SEAL team. 

Several media outlets, including the AP, identified those involved in the raid as Navy SEAL Team 6 shortly after bin Laden’s death. On May 3, the AP reported on the team and stated that the SEALs current chief at the time had sent an email congratulating the team and cautioned them about divulging sensitive information. 

Social media users began blaming Biden for identifying participants in the raid after 15 members of SEAL Team 6 were killed in August 2011 when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their helicopter in Afghanistan.

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Jamal Brown, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, told The Associated Press that there is no truth to the claim that Biden leaked the names of the team members.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536