Military Robert Scheer SI Podcast SI: Reporting Abuse of Power SI: War & Peace

Matthew Cole: A Deep Moral Rot Is at the Heart of the Navy SEALs

On this week's "Scheer Intelligence," journalist Matthew Cole joins Robert Scheer to discuss his hard-hitting book, “Code Over Country,” about SEAL Team 6, the most celebrated unit in the Navy SEALs elite special forces.
Journalist Matthew Cole.
Journalist Matthew Cole. [Bold Type Books]

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The operations of the Navy SEALs and its most famous unit, SEAL Team 6, are shrouded in secrecy. Trained to carry out high-level assassinations and other brief, targeted missions, SEALs units are perhaps best known for SEAL Team 6’s most famous operation: the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks. Bin Laden’s 2011 assassination put the secretive commando unit on the map. However, since then, many questions have been raised not only about that operation but others carried out by the Navy SEALs, some of which amount to nothing short of war crimes. The shocking case of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL who was accused of murdering a 17-year-old ISIS prisoner of war, as well as news of deaths during SEAL training and hazing, are the most recent evidence of a pernicious culture that permeates Navy SEALS units.  

Now, Matthew Cole, an investigative journalist at The Intercept, reveals more shocking stories about SEAL Team 6, its operations and deadly ethos in his book, “Code Over Country: The Tragedy and Corruption of SEAL Team Six.” On this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” Cole joins Robert Scheer to discuss his unprecedented exposé on SEAL Team 6 and what its “moral rot” reveals not only about the Navy SEALs, but about America’s pervasive war culture. 

“The [book] title comes from one of the best sources in the book who’s anonymous in describing many years ago the cultural flaw within SEAL Team 6 and the larger Navy SEALs,” Cole tells Scheer. “‘Code Over Country’ means that the SEALs and the men in the unit were putting the unit and themselves ahead of the Constitution and the United States.” 

Throughout the episode, Cole details the “SEALs’ carnage and coverups”–including never-publicly-revealed-accounts of heinous crimes, all perpetrated in Americans’ names. Listen to the full conversation between Cole and Scheer as they discuss whether these “assasination units” are exemplary of a violent empire and whether, as the investigative journalist explores in his book, the Navy SEALs can change for the better



Robert Scheer


Joshua Scheer


  1. A deep moral rot is at the heart of…..everything. Everything.

    Have a wonderful day.

    1. Fantastic interview. Thank you Robert, Joshua, and of course, Matthew Cole.

  2. Just the Navy’s pinapeds (seals)? Headline after headline over the decades —

    Report: As sexual assault reports increase at Naval Academy, prevention efforts may not be effective

    Naval Academy sexual assault allegations change the lives of four midshipmen An off-campus party had profound impact on four young people involved in high-profile sex assault case

    Reports of sexual assault are on the rise at all three principal U.S. service academies, according to data the Defense Department released

    Too much religion at military academies? West Point cadet revives charge.
    Citing overt religiosity on campus, a West Point Academy cadet publicly quit this week just months before graduation. This is not the first time the military has come under fire for practices that nonreligious students see as aggressively evangelical.

    Rotten to the core, military bootcamps, military training, military mindset.

  3. Really, you still believe the tired old OBL mastermind trope? This is an example of the end of critical thinking. Evidence disproving the official 9/11 narrative is now so extensive that adherence to the official explanation means either you’re part of the problem or just dumb. It’s hard to tell. By the way, OBL died of marfan’s syndrome and kidney failure in 2002.

    1. Too true! Bandar Bush, a name bequeathed upon the scion of OBL at a Bush family dinner, and the fact that the only planes in the sky on 911 carried the Bin Laden family out of the U.S. are proof that the Bin Ladens, including OBL, were a Most Favored Family to U.S. elites who would never insult the Bin Ladens by killing their son. Everyone knew he was in Pakistan- all they needed to do was ask any Pakistani cabbie his whereabouts! The U.S. waited for him to die a natural death then tied the bow on their psy-op.

      1. Nothing. Or he would have given it. How anyone could believe the government of the US is continually unbelievable to me.

        Everything is known about us, nothing is really known about the rulers

    2. This is what is called controlled opposition.

      Either this author is going to take a side or not.

      He continues to say “not all Seals” but then goes on to say we do not know how many crimes have been committed.

      How do you or I know Osama was assassinated?

  4. They should have called it “Working for the Enemy”. As the US is inextricably intertwined with Trans-National Corporations and does their bidding on the political front. It is nefarious, secrecy laden and contrary to forming a peaceful world, which is what all people want at heart. Who doesn’t? Well those who profit from death, disinformation, misinformation, lies and deceit, and those who run the media outlets in conjunction with this evil CABAL.
    Paul Hellyer, former Minister of Defense for Canada wrote a book called” The Money Mafia” and hit the nail on the head. The International Bank of Reparations was one of the worst offenders. Our future as a species lies in our ability to take peaceful control of a planet that has been abused for far too long. Wake up to the truth that we have been lied to about EVERYTHING and start anew. Namaste EWC

    1. The US military exists to protect the interests of the transnational corporations that have replaced nation states

  5. A deep moral rot existed in Europe and was exported to the Americas and Australia. Evil groups — aggressive military groups like Navy Seals — are just a symptom and result of this, it started hundreds of years ago.

    1. One in every twenty five people is a sociopath. They feel no compassion toward their fellow man and no guilt for their cruelty to others. This is where it begins. Once, they gain critical mass in the seats of power a ponerology is established and trouble follows!

      1. Shouldn’t that be “One in every tewnty five people isn’t a sociopath?” (Present company excluded, of course.)

      2. @Bill McCloy
        All I can say is, where was the Trump wall around Europe 500+ years ago when we needed it to keep people in?

        In indigenous cultures, if you act in a sociopathic manner, they simply evict you from the society and you die trying to live on your own. I know of no solution now, with gross human overpopulation preventing the use of this proper remedy.

    2. Yes, and scientists have traced the exact spot in Europe to a prehistorical location in present-day Transylvania upon which the castle of Count Dracula is built.

  6. Scheer derails the interview about corruption within the unit by soap boxing about high level policy. Very annoying, Bob.

  7. “from the inception of America it was 9nformed by ubiquitous sleaze and hustling”. Walter macdougal
    “European and traditional cultures have a super ego; American culture does not”. Daniel Dayan
    Sorokin distinguished 3 societies—metaphysical, ideological, sensate–he described USA as “sensate” by which he meant decadent
    Anglophone philosophy has never produced a moral philosophy—Adorno dismissed all of anglophone philosophy as a “defense of technocratic capitalism”

    1. Excellent points- with sources! Bravo! Do you ever get the impression we’re simply along for the ride? Like in Rick And Morty- Rick, “Everyone is always trying to rule the universe. Just try to not get noticed.”

    2. Morris Berman the author hit the nail on the head: Americans are hustlers and always have been. The Pilgrims came to America for the grift, not simply to escape persecution.

      As to:

      “—Adorno dismissed all of anglophone philosophy as a “defense of technocratic capitalism”

      He was right. Technocratic libertarianism is what it is or best said fascism

  8. [LATIN:]
    There’s a problem with the Praetorian Guard. Tune in two millennia later to find out why.

  9. “I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.” ~ Eugene V. Debs

  10. This terror troop doesn’t even have a heart for moral rot to take root. Emptying the soul of Seals and replacing it with the devil’s lies is what bootcamp is all about. Well, okay, I suppose in that respect they’re not that exceptional.

    1. We saw them in Vietnam under the Phoenix Program. They are hunt and kill assassins. Can one do this,as the author says, for fifteen or twenty years and be sane? they are serial killers.

  11. One of the truly great problems we face as a nation, is how to “Step Down” any military personnel, elite or otherwise, who have faced and engaged in Life & Death combat. We create some of the finest human military weapons on earth, then toss them away like rags when we’re done with them. You cannot silently garrot a sentry in combat for weeks on end in training and in real-time time, then expect that person to be normal i.e., to be fit for civilian or civilized interaction once home, two weeks later. I’m for a U.S. Military-wide, paid program for all elite and non-elite, combat-stressed, members of the military & their families to attend, at least a three-month meditation training intensive, modeled along the lines of a Buddhist monastic schedule, just simple attention to the breath, nothing fancy, coupled with other therapies and a fair amount of physical activity. The daily amount of meditations sessions should be fairly hardcore, starting out with 2-4 hours per day and ending in week twelve, with 8-12 hours of seated meditation per day; BEFORE, they are returned to society. What they don’t tell you as a recruit in all the “Glory of War” stories old & new, is how War wrecks and annihilates peoples’ souls. We see these wrecked vets every day in all of our cities. Sadly, I won’t hold my breath.

  12. OBL wasn’t the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, he may have funded them, like a venture capitalist finances a bunch of start-ups and is as surprised as anyone when one of them is a 10 bagger.

    The thing people need to get about the SEALs, particularly the potential recruits, is that all that gung ho stuff at BUDs and training is not to prove what a great guy you are, it is to filter out the people who would have scruples, as well as the physical limitations, that would make them less effective tools.

    1. Correct. REcruitment must be that which recruits sociopaths and psychopaths.

      And if we spend a million dollars training each person, who pays?

      The Empire ate the Republic

  13. A concern about modern warfare is that the more targeted the killing becomes, the more we morally question it. If a SEAL looses the plot a little, that becomes a far larger problem than bombs that hit the wrong target, or the relatively routine minigunning in free fire zones over Afghanistan. If Biden drones a family during the withdrawal, that becomes a bigger moral issue than the whole 20 years fiasco. It night be worth killing the family just to take the whole seeming disaster off the front pages.

    1. The corporate media is the one complicit as well as the murderous military.

      I am sick and tired of being kept safe by psychopaths

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