Rogue account: To publish a book, a former SEAL breaks his oath
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New authors can be nervous about how their first book will be received. In the case of former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote an inside account of the killing of the world's most notorious terrorist, his biggest critics are weighing in from a powerful perch: the Pentagon.
"No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden" will be released by Dutton on Sept. 11 under the pen name Mark Owen. But Mr. Bissonnette did not submit the manuscript for clearance by the Defense Department.
The Pentagon says the book could contain classified information and that publishing it violates a nondisclosure agreement Mr. Bissonnette signed when he became a SEAL. His lawyer said the author had the option of submitting his manuscript to the Pentagon for review, but that it wasn't required by law.
Mr. Bissonnette's story appears to be at odds with the government account of bin Laden's capture and execution. The Pentagon says the book also sheds unwanted light on how secret military operations are conducted.
The author claims he hired a former special operations lawyer to vet the manuscript before publishing it, but that doesn't answer why he didn't let the Pentagon review it, too.
Mr. Bissonnette no doubt feared the Defense Department would have objected to at least some of what he'd written and would have held up publication. That doesn't excuse violating the pledge he signed when he became a Navy SEAL.
It's natural that someone who participated in the killing of bin Laden would want to get credit for it, even though others involved in the operation are maintaining their silence. Although Dutton has said the author will be donating "the majority" of the book's proceeds to military charities, the Navy SEAL Foundation, for one, said it will not accept any.
Journalists and historians may appreciate Mr. Bissonnette's perspective on the killing of 9/11's mastermind, but there is no way to tell if his is the more accurate version of events. In the end, vanity may have outweighed the vow he once made to the nation to keep his mouth shut.
First Published September 8, 2012 12:00 am