09.03.12 9:29 PM ET
Special Ops Veterans Respond to Navy SEAL Book ‘No Easy Day’
After dominating headlines for much of the past month, No Easy Day, the book written under a pseudonym by former Navy SEAL Mark Bissonnette about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, will be released Tuesday, Sept. 4. One day before the controversial book hits shelves, a group of Special Operations veterans are releasing their own e-book in response to Bissonnette’s account.
No Easy Op: The Unclassified Analysis of the Mission That Killed OBL, is a product of SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Situation Report), a group of former commandos devoted to releasing accurate information related to the Special Ops community. It examines Bissonnette’s version of events, his motives, the consequences of him publishing the book (the Pentagon has threatened legal action over the possible publication of unclassified information), and what it says about the current culture of operatives.
According to the e-book, “Bissonnette was treated very poorly upon his departure … once he openly shared that he was considering getting out of the Navy to pursue other interests.” Bissonnette was essentially given a plane ticket back to Virginia and nothing else—not much of a thank-you for his “honesty and 14 years of service.” This information, say the authors, makes his reason for writing undeniably clear. “What do you do when you find yourself pissed off at your former employer, out of a job, and in need of a paycheck? You start cashing in chips.”
Bissonnette Will Be Disowned
“Members of the Special Operations community are well known for eating their own,” the book warns. If Bissonnette’s relationship with special ops was in danger when he left the unit, it’s dead now. It is likely that Bissonnette will be not only ridiculed and criticized, but ostracized from the military completely: “Some of these authors are considered personae non grata by their former units: members are instructed to never talk to the author and the author is never to be allowed to participate in unit functions again.”
No Easy Day Won’t Have the Juiciest Details of the Bin Laden Raid
The e-book authors say that although the “reading public will get their dose of reality,” the most confidential details of the raid simply won’t be found in No Easy Day. If they were present, it wouldn’t exist: “The Justice Department would have moved in and shut down the publication of the book.” The general counsel of the Department of Defense has “yet to point out specific disclosures.” Which likely means, they aren’t there. In other words, say the authors, “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.”
But the Public Will Take It for the Truth
Before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden happened, the White House, Pentagon, and CIA reportedly had a “single, agreed-upon narrative that would be sold to the public,” the e-book reveals. But with the unexpected crashing of the MH-60 Blackhawk helicopter inside the compound, the “White House panicked.” With the killing of OBL came a huge opportunity for political gain and they were insistent that the PR spin make Obama look powerful and decisive. In an attempt to preserve the original story, the White House allegedly “leaked” information to author Nicholas Schmidle at The New Yorker, giving him enough meat to write a “sweeping narrative with great scenes that sound like clichés straight out of a Jerry Bruckheimer production.” Now that No Easy Day is being released, the public will likely become attached to this story. It will become “the established narrative on the raid, the only truth."
The SEALs Need to Be Under Tighter Reins
While there are many SEALs in existence who “epitomize the quiet professional moniker,” SEAL Team Six has proven to be a different breed. Successful in their mission, they handled the aftermath poorly. “It is widely known that the team that executed the OBL operation was openly celebrating at an establishment called Afterburner’s, a local Virginia Beach bar." Although they had the “technical and tactical competency” to complete the task of killing OBL, “they did not have the maturity to handle their own success.” The lesson of all this, according to No Easy Op’s authors? “Maybe it is time for Admiral McRaven to be told to lock down his SEALS until they can be brought under control.”
Bissonnette’s Colleagues Have Mixed Reactions to the Book
Both active and former Special Ops are a “split community” when it comes to their feelings about Bissonnette and No Easy Day. “If Bissonnette didn’t do it, some other less informed bubba would have. I don’t hate Mark for doing it,” says one active duty U.S. Navy SEAL Chief. “Hollywood, politics, and money were not present at any of our successes, but they will be present at our decay,” says a former admiral. “Mark is a legend. He’s a leader and a perfectionist … which is why it makes what he’s done so devastating,” says a former SEAL. No Easy Op’s authors think mixed messages are sent about what’s appropriate to reveal about working in Special Ops, particularly after the recent release of the movie Act of Valor. “The SEAL leadership should start practicing what they preach and set clear guidelines as to what former operators can and cannot write about.”
Watch Mark Bissonnette's appearance on '60 Minutes.'
No Easy Day Will Be the Impetus to Change Special Ops Policy
“The book will likely be the tipping point and will result in blowback that will drive policy change across the entire Special Ops community.” Making an “example out of Bissonnette” will be the United States Special Operations Command’s first move. No Easy Op calls the book one of the “greatest betrayal[s] the community has ever known.” In other words, “this is one stomach punch that will take a while to recover from.”