As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, a new book has put Osama Bin Laden, specifically his death in May, 2011, back into the spotlight. No Easy Day: the Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Bin Laden, written by Mark Owen (a pseudonym for Matt Bissonnette, the 36 year old Navy seal who fired the fatal shot) describes “Operation Neptune Spear”, the covert raid that brought down the 9/11 mastermind. While some Americans may be understandably curious about Bin Laden's last moments, my question for Bissonnette is this: why did you write such a book?
His response is unnecessary. Obviously, the soldier who hunted Bin Laden and dispensed long-awaited justice now hunts the almighty dollar. The timing of No Easy Day's publication is calculated; the hero Navy Seal is cashing in.
Of course, one could argue books such as Bissonnette's are necessary for historic preservation. How will future generations learn of 9/11's after-math and Bin Laden's well deserved end if actual participants do not share details? Indeed, how would we know about the War Between the States, WWI or WWII, if soldiers had not recorded their experiences? I can't debate the importance of history, nor can I argue the right of those directly affected by 9/11 to hear about Bin Laden's last bloody, painful moments. However, having details of a counter-terrorism operation revealed by a Navy Seal makes me uncomfortable.
It makes the Pentagon uncomfortable, too.
George Little, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, believes “sensitive and classified information is contained in the book,” and by not submitting the manuscript for pre-publication review, the author is in violation of the non-disclosure agreement signed by Navy Seals. Bissonnette argues the non-disclosure agreement merely “invites” pre-publication review of proposed books, and he revealed no top secret information. Releasing his tell-all two months before the presidential election has been criticized as a political move, something Bissonnette denies. In an interview with CBS 60 Minutes, Bissonnettee said, “This is a book about September 11th, and it needs to rest on September 11th. Not be brought into the political arena, because this – this has nothing to do with politics.”
Maybe not. But it has a lot to do with the integrity and loyalty of a Navy Seal.
Bissonnette may purport there's room for interpretation in the pre-publication review included in a Navy Seal's non-disclosure agreement, but the Code of the Seal is clear:
“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation's call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed....I serve with honor on and off the battlefield...Uncompromising integrity is my standard...My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond. My loyalty to country and Team is beyond reproach...I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition of my actions....”
It bears repeating: “My word is my bond...I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition of my actions...”
The bravery, sacrifice, and perseverance of the Navy Seals is beyond reproach. Bissonnette, in his role as Navy Seal who risked his life in the fateful raid and pulled the trigger on Bin Laden, has my gratitude and extreme respect. It is his role as civilian that is disappointing. No Easy Day seems like a misguided, money making scheme (and if it is not a money making venture, and does, indeed, “need to rest on September 11th,” why not donate royalties to charity?).
As an American, it saddens me to think a Navy Seal is cashing in.
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