All hell has broken loose within the US security establishment after a member of the group of Navy Seals who took part in the raid on the house in Abottabad in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden wrote a book giving hitherto undisclosed details of the raid.
It’s true that scenes were flashed across the world on television news of the death of Bin Laden but what happened inside the building has remained a closely guarded secret since the May 2011 raid. So when one of the members of the team decided to write a book on the top-secret mission, feathers (a lot more than feathers I suppose ) were, as expected, ruffled.
The book is titled “No Easy Day” and is written under the pen name Mark Owen but the US media has now identified the author as Matt Bissonnette. The controversy has sent the pre-release orders on the book soaring and it is bound to find a place in all best seller lists after its release as would have been the expectations of the author as well as the publisher.
While there is no surprise about the reaction of the US security establishment who are threatening to take legal action against the writer for violating the nondisclosure cause in the agreement he signed when he joined the Seals, one thing that should be evident by now to all those who want to hold onto age-old tactics of keeping things under wrap and shrouded in secrecy like during the time of the previous World Wars or even the Cold War, is that the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the Internet has made it impossible to do so, however high and mighty those who want to keep the secrets are.
I was watching a documentary about spies who acted as agents of the Allied Forces during the Second World War who walked right into the lion’s lair of sorts by spying on the Germans. These men and women were only identified decades after the war ended and many probably remain unidentified till today with their heroics little heard of. None of them wrote any “kiss and tell” books so their contribution to the war remained overshadowed by the visible heroics of the men and women who were in the front-lines.
But isn’t it too much to expect spies or special forces or undercover agents, whatever fancy name you identify them by, to choose to remain obscure these days? When someone has a good story to tell, when the public hunger for such stories is never quenched, why should they not profit from it? It’s great to romanticize about the men who carried out the raid on Bin Laden’s apartment , say they did it all for love of country and mankind but the bottom line is that at least one of them was probably plotting how best he could use the opportunity to make himself rich and famous by writing a “tell-it-all” book.
I feel this whole concept of keeping the pubic in the dark on matters that is decided for them by the state is absurd in this day and age. There is always a way for the information to “leak”. It may not be in a dramatic manner like by way of a book like in this case but “Wiki Leaks” has amply demonstrated that it is very hard to keep state secrets these days, however zealously one side may want to do so.
I browsed through the official website of the Navy Seals out of curiosity to see what it takes to be a member of such a elite organization. Their Motto is Ultimate Brotherhood. “Teammates do not let each other down, on or off the battlefield. The relationships and friendships forged within the “The Teams “last a lifetime.” http://www.sealswcc.com/.
In this case, one person has decided to “let the team down” , so it would seem, but in the greater good of public interest and the right of the public to know such information, I say it takes a very courageous person to take the decision to write such a book , well knowing the repercussions. He’s shed the Ultimate Brotherhood within a limited organization to embrace the Ultimate Brotherhood he owes to the public at large.