'No Easy Day': Pentagon has 'very serious concerns' about secrets in book

The decision by the author of 'No Easy Day,' Matt Bissonnette, not to submit the book for prepublication review was 'the height of irresponsibility,' says a Pentagon spokesman.

Dutton/AP
This book cover image released by Dutton shows 'No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden.'

Pentagon officials say they are considering legal action against the former Navy SEAL who wrote an insider account of the Osama bin Laden raid, warning that the book reveals “sensitive and classified” information that has never before been in the public realm. 

“Tactics, techniques, and procedures – not to mention human life – is at play,” says Pentagon spokesman George Little. “It is the height of irresponsibility not to have this kind of material checked for possible disclosure of classified information.” 

Matt Bissonnette, using the pen name Mark Owen, released his controversial book “No Easy Day” this week, and Pentagon officials say they have now had time to review it.

“We have very serious concerns, having read the book,” Mr. Little said. 

The Pentagon officials are echoing the concerns of a group of former Special Operations Forces troops in an e-book that they, too, released this week, “No Easy Op: The Unclassified Analysis of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden.”

It is the “unclassified” part of that title that the operators – and the Pentagon – are emphasizing as the preferred way to write about the operation.

“If I had been part of the raid team on the ground and I had decided to write a book about it, it wouldn't have been a tough decision for me to submit the book for prepublication review,” Little said. “That is common sense. It's a no-brainer, and it did not happen.” 

Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, who heads the Naval Special Warfare Command that oversees Navy SEALS, has said that the book may aid US enemies. “We must immediately reconsider how we properly influence our people in and out of uniform NOT to seek inappropriate monetary, political, or celebrity profit from their service,” he said in a letter to the 8,000 troops under his command, according to the Associated Press. “We all have much to gain or lose.” 

Yet at the same time, the SEAL Team authors of “No Easy Op” say that though Bissonnette’s book describes the raid in a way that allows the “reading public [to] get their dose of reality,” if the details were too juicy, they acknowledge, the US government would not stand for it.

“The Justice Department would have moved in and shut down the publication of the book,” the authors note, adding that the Pentagon’s general counselor has “yet to point out specific disclosures.”

For that reason, they snipe, “No Easy Day is nothing more than a well-executed marketing strategy that will make the author and publisher tens of millions of dollars overnight.”

Ultimately, it’s a marketing strategy that appears to be working: The book will still be sold on US bases throughout the world at military exchanges. 

“There’s been no directive from this department to withhold sale of the book,” Little told reporters Tuesday. “It’s not our typical practices to decide what does and does not go on bookshelves in exchanges.” 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.