Robert O'Neill, the former Navy SEAL who killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, faced severe backlash after he posted a maskless selfie while sitting in a crowded flight. A strong anti-masker, O'Neill now faces a ban from Delta Air Lines.
O'Neill, whose Twitter bio reads 'Kentucky Colonel. I shot a famous guy. Thrice,' shot Laden thrice in the head during a covert operation undertaken by the US in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011. However, shortly after the operation, the former Navy SEAL was removed from the coveted team, after it was found that he was openly bragging about the killing at beach bars in Virginia.
Maskless O'Neil Says He Is Not a Pussy
The latest controversy surrounding O'Neill erupted soon after he tweeted a smiling picture of himself with a caption, "I am not a pussy." The caption was in reference to the strict mask wearing policies adopted by the airlines in wake of the global pandemic.
Donning a grey T-Shirt, O'Neill appeared to have been travelling in a crowded Delta Air Lines flight. A man wearing a Marines cap and face mask is seen sitting in the row across him. A masked flight attendant appears in the background of the now deleted picture.
However, soon after the outrage broke, the tweet was deleted. Stating that it was his wife who deleted the controversial post, O'Neill posted, "'I didn't delete my tweet. My wife did."
It may be noted that in a previous rant against the measures adopted to curb the spread of the virus, O'Neill, in a tweet in July, had asked people to 'wise up' and said they could not be forced to have their temperature taken or quarantine. "They can't make you wear masks. They can't make you take your temperature. They can't make you quarantine. Wise up," he said.
Irked Navy Seal Challenges Critics of His Anti-Mask Stance
Shocked by the tweet posted by the former Navy SEAL, a lot of users criticized his actions in a crowded flight. Sharing the screen shot of O'Neill's deleted tweet, Dan Saltzstein, deputy editor at the New York Times, tweeted: I don't know this man but: counterpoint, you might just be because you're not willing to sacrifice and be a little uncomfortable for your fellow humans (including that marine behind you)!"
In another tweet, Saltzstein added: "I deleted a previous version of this tweet because I broke my own rule about name-calling So let me try again. I honor O'Neill for his sacrifices to his country and his heroism. It's sad that he can't extend the same for the safety of his fellow passengers."
'You do realize you may be a-symptomatic and give the virus to other people that could potentially kill them. I think that makes you a sociopath. Besides, p*****s are actually so strong that we can deliver human beings out of them. Please, I'm begging you, wear a damn mas," tweeted an enraged Ayssa Milano.
Instead of being apologetic of his act, O'Neill defended his actions in a series of tweets. "I shook thousands of hands and gave thousands of hugs this week. I flew on some planes. I'll be alive next week. There is a time to act. Who's with me?" he wrote. He even went on to challenge those criticizing him, "I'm not afraid of the mob. Come get some."
Delta Airlines Contemplating Banning O'Neil
Taking cognizance of the mask-less O'Neill travelling in their flight and violating the policies laid down, Delta Air Lines is contemplating banning the former Navy SEAL.
Speaking to The Intercept, Delta Air Lines said O'Neill may face a ban. "We're aware of this customer's tweet and are reviewing this event. All customers who don't comply with our mask-wearing requirement risk losing their ability to fly Delta in the future. Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate," the Delta spokesperson added.
Previously, during an interview with CNN, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that the airline had already banned dozens of people for refusing to wear masks. "We've had well over 100 people that have refused to keep their mask on during the flight," Bastian had said.