I wrote a post some time back on the controversy created after it was revealed that one of the members in the US Navy SEAL team that took part in the May, 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden had decided to write a book disclosing hitherto unknown details of the operation. (https://stspectator.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/no-more-easy-days-for-spies-lies-cover-ups/)
That was before I read the book which is titled “No Easy Day”. But after having read it, I am now wondering what the fuss was all about. While all the hype surrounding the book has surely helped send its sales roaring,(That’s why I bought the book) it does not, in my opinion, disclose anything that could even be vaguely perceived as “compromising national security”, a term many regimes use to clamp down on the right of the people to freely express themselves.
What Mark Owen (the pen name of the Navy SEAL who has since been identified in the US media as Matt Bissonnette) has actually written is a lot about what shaped his childhood ambition to join the elite US military force and about the rigorous and brutal training they undergo before being enlisted as a SEAL. A lot of what he discloses about the actual raid on the house in Abbottabad in Pakistan sounds familiar to me given the intense media interest the raid generated and the numerous media reports that have since been published, telecast and broadcast on it. Many journalists being good sleuths themselves managed to piece together the jigsaw to give a comprehensive picture of the operation and accurately re-create much of what Owen has told us in his book.
The main difference of course is that here the reader has it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. It’s a firsthand account of the preparations for the operations that took place months before the raid and reveals how some of the men involved in it got close to getting killed during the raid. The meticulous planning, the fight to keep the information from leaking prior to the day of the operation, making it to the location without being detected and then actuality carrying out an assault on the compound which resulted in OBL’s death are well detailed in the book.
We can debate for as long as we like the decision made by the Barack Obama administration to sneak in his troops into another country and carry out such an operation .We know that it is only the USA that can take on the role of global policeman and get away with this kind of actions while another country would be castigated and in no time become an international pariah if they dared to act without the sanction of the so-called International Community.
Leaving that aside, the book for me is about the personal bravery of the men who carried out orders as they are trained to do, for going into a situation they knew could be their last mission but still giving it their best and luckily for them, succeeding.
Mark Owen has only enhanced the image of the Navy SEALS and not done anything to bring the organization into disrepute or compromise nation security. In fact he’s exercised the right that he’s being guaranteed like all citizens of that country under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.