“I just got banned from Delta for posting a picture,” O’Neill tweeted Thursday. “Wow.”
The since-deleted picture, which O’Neill posted Wednesday on Twitter, showed him sitting in his seat and smiling without wearing a face covering. The caption said, “I’m not a pu**y.”
O’Neill has been posting messages for weeks expressing skepticism about the effectiveness and enforceability of mask mandates. “They can’t make you wear masks,” he said on July 30. “They can’t make you take your temperature. They can’t make you quarantine. Wise up.”
His tweet Wednesday led to a firestorm of controversy. One of the critics that struck a nerve with O’Neill was New York Times deputy editor Dan Saltzstein, who replied to the ex-Seal on Twitter: “You might just be (a pu**y) because you’re not willing to sacrifice and be a little uncomfortable for your fellow humans.” O’Neill later said: “I’m not willing to sacrifice? Come get some, NYT.”
Another former Seal, Carl Higbie, came to O’Neill’s defense: “This is why the New York Times is failing. Rob, I know you would take a bullet for me and vice versa anytime – something the NYT reporters know nothing about. Because you didn’t have a mask on? Show me data that says masks stop spread.”
Saltzstein deleted his tweet, saying he had violated his own rule against name-calling.
O’Neill told the Washington Post in a 2014 interview that he fired the shots that killed bin Laden during the US raid on the Al-Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan in May 2011. He had previously told the same story anonymously to Esquire magazine in 2012, the year he retired from the Seals.
Another member of Seal Team Six, Matt Bissonnette had claimed in a 2012 book that he fired the fatal shots. O’Neill later got his own book deal, writing “The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden,” which was published in 2017.
Both men violated a Seals code of silence that typically precludes them from publicly talking about their missions.
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