As retired Navy SEAL Mark Owens’s (a.k.a Matt Bissonnette) “No Easy Day” hits shelves today, a new e-book on Special Operations offers fresh insight into why Bissonnette broke his code of silence with his tell-all account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
A group of Special Ops veterans released its own e-book Monday, “No Easy Op: The Unclassified Analysis of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden,” which suggests Bissonnette “was willing to break the code of silence honored by many commandos because of ‘bad blood’ with his former unit, the elite SEAL Team 6,” writes The New York Times.
According to the NYT, the e-book claims Bissonnette was “effectively pushed out of SEAL Team 6 after he expressed interest last year in leaving the Navy and starting a business.”
“How was he repaid for his honesty and 14 years of service?” the Special Ops writers ask in the e-book. “He was ostracized from his unit with no notice and handed a plane ticket back to Virginia from a training operation.” After that treatment, Bissonnette “felt less compunction” about writing “No Easy Day.”
“No Easy Day” was published as scheduled Tuesday despite a storm of controversy about the firsthand account of the top-secret raid and threat of a government lawsuit. The Pentagon has threatened to sue Bissonnette for breaching his contract by not submitting the manuscript for review early enough in the publication processs.
The publication of “No Easy Op” further complicates the debate over Bissonnette’s account. The e-book was produced by sofrep.com, a website about the news, culture, and weaponry of the Special Ops produced by former commandos. Brandon Webb is a founder of the site and a former SEALs sniper, according to the NYT. In the NYT article, Webb says the e-book is based on “conversations that he and his co-authors had with current members of SEAL Team 7, none of whom are identified.”
(Incidentally, Webb also wrote his own account of his military experience, “The Red Circle,” which was also not submitted for review. But he was not penalized, he says, because the book came out years after missions it describes, and included details already made public.)
“No Easy Op” is largely sympathetic to Bissonnette, according to media reviews. It describes the former Navy SEAL as “an operator’s operator” and says it is highly unlikely “No Easy Day” revealed any vital information about SEAL tactics and procedures. Nonetheless, the e-book does scold Bissonnette for not submitting the book for review, suggesting that move would have placated government officials and put to rest concerns about security breaches. And it emphasizes the point that Bissonnette was less likely to abide by protocol after having been slighted by his former unit.
Whatever Bissonnette’s motivation may be, the former Navy SEAL’s co-author in “No Easy Day,” Kevin Maurer, said in a statement that Bissonnette’s account has nothing but praise for other SEALs and military personnel. “After spending several very intense months working with Mark Owen on this book, I know that he wrote this book solely to share a story about the incredible men and women defending America all over the world,” the statement reads. “Any suggestion otherwise is as ill informed as it is inaccurate. What’s more, Mark has an unshakable respect for the U.S. military, in particular the men he served with. That’s why not one negative word was written about anyone he served with.”
Still, the ongoing controversy over “No Easy Day” has the authors of “No Special Op” predicting Bissonnette’s book may be a game changer in the field. As Americans’ interest in commando culture swells and more retired Special Ops veterans consider sharing their accounts in books, movies, and more, the Pentagon will likely crack down on tell-all revelations like this – making firsthand accounts like these rarer, suggests the e-book. “No Easy Day” it writes, “will result in blowback that will drive policy change across the entire Special Operations community regarding operators’ ability to write books in the future. Hollywood and media access will be virtually impossible for the foreseeable future.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.