As Barack Obama gets ready for the Democratic National Convention in early September, one of his most spectacular accomplishments has come under renewed scrutiny again, for the better or the worse: the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. A group of former Special Operations Forces officers has recently attacked Obama for what it says were dangerous leaks of the raid that killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
And now a former Navy SEAL who was part of the special operation that took out Bin Laden has written a book about this once-in-a-lifetime experience. He has been given the pseudonym of Mark Owen by his publisher, New York-based Dutton (Penguin Group), but military officials said that his name is Matt Bissonnette, 36, and that he ended his service with the Navy’s secretive Special Warfare Command last year after Bin Laden’s death.
His book, titled “No Easy Day” and scheduled for release on September 11, has ignited another round of arguments and accusations over whether sensitive details about the bin Laden operation should be publicized, as well as speculation about the motives of those responsible.
The publisher released a statement saying that the former SEAL “has put his life on the line time and again for his country for more than a decade” and that his decision to share details about the Bin Laden raid was “a courageous act.” Expecting a major best-seller, Dutton has already increased the initial print run of 300,000 copies to 400,000 copies. “No Easy Day” was No. 1 on Amazon.com as of late Friday morning, displacing the million-selling erotic trilogy “Fifty Shades of Gray.” The publisher says the author will be donating the majority of the proceeds from the book to charities.
The US military who was already pushing back hard against the campaign of the group of former Special Operations Forces officers, took a tough line against present and future first-hand accounts of particular missions. Special operations chief Admiral Bill McRaven warned his troops that he would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause fellow forces harm. “We will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate,” the four-star commander wrote, in an open, unclassified letter emailed to the active-duty special operations community Thursday.
Pentagon officials say they have not been given a chance to review the book, but a Pentagon spokesman said Friday officials expect to receive a copy “very shortly.” He said the Pentagon will decide whether to take any action against the author once officials review the book’s contents to determine whether it includes classified information.
Some observers feel reminded of the eventually successful 2004 “swift boat” campaign to discredit then Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry over his past as a highly-decorated officer in the Vietnam war. So far, President Obama has publicly downplayed attempts to discredit his record. “I don’t take these folks too seriously,” he told a Virginia newspaper. “One of their members is a birther who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary.” Maybe Bissonnette should have more reasons to be worried. Al-Qaida sympathizers posted photos of him on jihadist web forums and called for his killing in retaliation for Bin Laden’s death.