A SEAL's Other Daring Mission

By Klaidman, Daniel | Newsweek, September 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

A SEAL's Other Daring Mission


Klaidman, Daniel, Newsweek


Byline: Daniel Klaidman

How the bin Laden-raid author sneaked past the Pentagon.

Navy SEALS are taught to practice OPSEC, elaborate operational security tactics to preserve the element of surprise in carrying out missions. Former commando Matt Bissonnette seems to have put that training to good use in the publication of his controversial tell-all book about the assault that killed Osama bin Laden. Bissonnette, who was a member of the SEAL team that snuffed out the terrorist mastermind, and his publisher went to unusual lengths to conceal the existence of the project until the publisher announced it last month.

For the Pentagon it was tantamount to a sneak attack. Officials were taken by complete surprise when details of the sensational account began appearing in the media. Adding to the pressure was the fact that Bissonnette's account of the bin Laden raid was at odds with the Obama White House's version in some key respects, notably whether the terrorist mastermind represented a genuine threat to the commandos when they killed him. Last week officials scrambled to get a copy of the book to see whether Bissonnette's account, No Easy Day (written under the pseudonym Mark Owen), revealed classified information. But by the time government vetters got their hands on it, thousands of copies had already been shipped to stores and the title stood atop Amazon's sales list.

"We were caught completely off guard," conceded one senior Pentagon official, who says national-security personnel are obligated to submit manuscripts containing sensitive information for prepublication review (Bissonnette's lawyer says the regs merely "invite" authors to show vetters but don't require it). …

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