As US President Joe Biden flew back from Israel on Wednesday, his social media team shared a photo of him shaking hands with American special forces operators deployed there, without redacting their faces or other identifying features.
Biden “met with first responders to thank them for their bravery and the work they’re doing in response to the Hamas terrorist attack,” says the now-deleted Instagram post on the White House account.
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The original photo showed the faces of four men, all wearing American flag patches and quickly identified as members of the elite Combat Applications Group (CAG), also known as the Delta Force and Task Force Green.
The post was deleted after an hour, but had already been viewed by “hundreds of thousands” of people, according to intelligence analyst Sam Shoemate. A screenshot Shoemate posted on X, formerly Twitter, redacted the special operators’ faces – but not their tattoos, as many people pointed out in the comments. It has been viewed over three million times.
“This is a massive failure” for the Biden administration, Shoemate said on X.
Among the many people reacting to the revelation was former US Army Green Beret Joe Kent, a Republican running for Congress in the western state of Washington.
“The Biden Administration operates at the confluence of hubris, malice and incompetence,” Kent said on X. “Nothing says thank you for doing our nation’s most dangerous missions like showing every terrorist in the world the identities of our warriors.”
Read more: US will ‘forever’ stand with Israel – Biden
There were rumors that CAG had been deployed to Cyprus or another country in the region because several Americans are among the 200 or so hostages Hamas took in the October 7 incursion that triggered the latest violent conflict. A CAG operator was then spotted in Tel Aviv ahead of Biden’s visit, in which the US president declared his unequivocal support for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war on Hamas.
Meanwhile, HuffPost published a story claiming that there was a “culture of silence” and self-censorship that Biden’s overt support for Israel has created among the Muslim and especially Palestinian staff in his administration, with several officials claiming there was no diversity in the “inner, inner circle” of the White House that actually makes policy decisions.