A former Navy SEAL says he is honored to have served with his elite unit but is incredibly frustrated by a military bureaucracy that ties the hands of service members, slapped him with trumped-up charges and tried to sully his reputation after leaving the U.S. Navy.
Carl Higbie is author of the brand new book, “Enemies, Foreign and Domestic: A SEAL’s Story.” Higbie served two tours in Iraq in a SEAL unit. He said the second tour aggravated him and his comrades because overly cautious commanders refused to let them go on any missions.
“It was extremely frustrating,” Higbie told WND and Radio America. “We were sitting over there as a SEAL fighting force. This is what we were designed to do. We weren’t allowed to action missions.
“The reason we weren’t allowed to do anything was because the military at that time, because of Barack Obama, had become so politicized and so top-heavy in their bureaucracy, they wanted to end the war, but they didn’t want to end the war by actually fighting and winning it. They wanted to end the war simply by calling us the victors.”
Higbie said the civilian leaders and the top officers lost sight of what the military is for.
“We’re soldiers in the United States military, the most lethal fighting force the world has ever known,” he said. “We are there to put bullets in bad guys. We are not there to win hearts and minds. We are not there to rebuild schools, as we have been tasked to do recently. We are there to kill the bad guy.”
At the very end of that deployment, Higbie’s and his fellow SEALs finally got a mission: to capture the high-value target known as Al-Isawi, otherwise known as the “Butcher of Baghdad.” Al-Isawi was responsible for killing U.S. forces and hanging their corpses from a bridge in Fallujah years earlier.
Thanks to elite skill and precise intelligence, the mission went splendidly. Al-Isawi was captured alive. Higbie said one SEAL mate deserves the most credit.
“The hero of the mission is Matt McCabe. This guy tackled the butcher on target,” Higbie said. “[Al-Isawi] had a gun, so [McCabe] was within his legal authority to shoot him. But McCabe knew if he was to tackle this guy and bring him back that we’d be more likely to get good intelligence to potentially save American lives.”
But shortly after Al-Isawi was placed in custody, the nightmare for the SEALs began. The prisoner showed officers blood on his clothes, and Navy commanders decided the SEALs were to blame. They demanded to know who struck the prisoner. The entire team insisted none of them had.
“I’m 240 pounds. This guy was six feet, 130 pounds,” Higbie said. “If I had hit him, he would have known about it. And we had an oral surgeon testify to the fact that there was no abuse here; this was a self-inflicted bite wound. NCIS cleared us. Our SEAL leadership chain of command is the one that hung us out, and it was a travesty.”
How much blood were we talking about?
“Maybe a quarter of a teaspoon,” Higbie said. “Your gums bleed more when you brush your teeth.”
While defending themselves against false accusations, Higbie still wondered why anyone would really care if they had roughed up Al-Isawi.
“Who cares anyway? Even if we did abuse this guy, who cares? That’s the problem. We’re developing into such a politically correct nature that our troops are getting sacrificed at the altar of political correctness,” said Higbie, accusing bureaucrats of losing the war by being so careful as to avoid any bad press.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie:
Next, the Navy tried to get Higbie and his SEAL friends to turn on one another. It didn’t work.
“They thought they could break us by offering us plea deals or promotions if we ratted each other out,” Higbie said. “But nobody did anything here. That’s the fundamental fact.”
All the SEALs were encouraged to subject themselves to a general’s punishment to avoid courts martial. All the SEALs rejected the offer, and they were all exonerated.
After returning home, Higbie put his frustrations on paper, penning, “Battle on the Home Front: A Navy SEAL’s Mission to Save the American Dream.”
The military requires all such books to be submitted for review to make sure no classified material is included. The review is to last no more than 30 days. After two years of waiting, Higbie published the book anyway. At that time the government listed a number of possible violations in the manuscript, although not in writing. That resulted in another legal battle, which Higbie also won.
Next came the Navy’s treatment of Higbie’s exit from the military.
“They offered me an honorable discharge to get out early. I took it,” Higbie said. “Six weeks after leaving the military, they downgraded my discharge to a general (discharge), which is illegal. You have to attend a court martial or an Administrative Separation Board. Both of those are due process. They had the opportunity to do it. They didn’t.”
Another fight was on.
“After two years of fighting, we won with a 5-0 appellate court decision in my favor to overturn my discharge back to honorable,” Higbie said.
Higbie says he wrote the new book to prove you can challenge the government and win, but that you must be very well prepared. As for the current state of the military, he said politicians who were elected by people who never served in the military need to let the military do the job it was meant to do.
“Our military has been and always will be the most deadly fighting force the world has ever known, but you have to take the handcuffs off,” Higbie said. “It is the command leadership that is unwilling to fight this war.”
“You need war fighters and door-kickers to make these decisions on site,” he said. “And you need to let us do it.”
Despite the myriad battles with the Navy, Higbie cherishes the time he spent with his unit and said he will never stop fighting for what is right.
“I was not the biggest, fastest, strongest, best, sharpest guy in my unit by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “There were a lot of guys that were better than me and guys I learned a lot from. To have the ability to serve with such a unit is such an incredible experience. That’s why I fight for the principles I do in my books because I genuinely believe they’re worth fighting for.”