On the ‘Leaking of Secrets’ About the Bin Laden Raid (Update)
The former U.S. Navy SEAL who authored a soon-to-be-published book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is now facing threats against his life in addition to possible criminal prosecution.
An official al Qaeda website on Friday posted a photograph and the name of the former Navy commando responsible for the book, calling him “the dog who murdered the martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”
The head of U.S. Special Operations Command told current and former troops that the military would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause harm to fellow forces.
A group of former special operations and intelligence members, OPSEC, in typical Swift Boat manner has been alleging that the Obama administration intentionally leaked sensitive information about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden for political advantage and, in addition, in a documentary called “Dishonorable Disclosures,” they claim that Obama has taken undeserved credit for the killing of bin Laden.
The group, their tactics, allegations and the documentary have been highly acclaimed by the right wing media, but the allegations and the group have been debunked and unmasked, respectively, by the Obama administration, retired and active duty military officers including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who severely criticized this group for “using the uniform for partisan politics [which] erodes the trust the American people have in their military.”
Many, if not most of the OPSEC group are retired military and they have their First Amendment rights. But I believe that there are other aspects to their conduct on which I will have some comments in the near future.
But wait, now there is a new “tell-all” book, “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden,” that is set to be published on Sept 11, penned under the pseudonym “Mark Owen, who, according to Fox News is —————a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who, according to the publisher, “was one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist leader’s hideout and was present at his death.”
In the book, ———– writes, “it is time to set the record straight about one of the most important missions in U.S. military history.”
I have not read the book — only a very few have — but I would dare to say that ———– will tell us many heretofore unknown and probably very sensitive, perhaps classified aspects of the raid which could put other SEAL team members in danger and divulge a lot about our technology, methods, tactics and even sources.
There is, however, one high-ranking and well-regarded military who has some very firm opinions on this issue.
American Forces Press Service reports that the commander of U.S. Special Operations, Navy Adm. William McRaven, has expressed concern about former members of the community who he said, “are using their ‘celebrity status’ to advance their personal or professional agendas,” and warned those who divulge classified information will be held accountable.
According to the Press Service, McRaven raised the issue in an e-mail sent to the entire special operations community following several recent incidents involving former special operators. The latest was the announcement that a former Navy SEAL who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will publish a first-person account of the operation without first getting the book reviewed by the Defense Department for clearance.
“While as retired or former service members, they are well within their rights to advocate for certain causes or write books about their adventures, it is disappointing when these actions either try to represent the broader S.O.F. community, or expose sensitive information that could threaten the lives of their fellow warriors,” McRaven wrote.
Acknowledging books and movies that have been “wonderful accounts of courage, leadership, tough decision making, and martial skill,” and “stories through the medium of film that needed to be told,” McRaven draws a distinct line between what he calls “recounting a story for the purposes of education or entertainment and telling a story that exposes sensitive activities just to garner greater readership and personal profit.” It’s a line he says must be respected even after leaving the military:
“Every member of the special operations community with a security clearance signed a nondisclosure agreement that was binding during and after service in the military,” he said in his email. “If the U.S. Special Operations Command finds that an active duty, retired or former service member violated that agreement and that exposure of information was detrimental to the safety of U.S. forces, then we will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate.”
Current and former special operators have both a moral obligation and legal duty to submit their works for pre-publication security review. “We are fully prepared to work with any author who is looking to tell his story and wants a straightforward assessment of the potential security impacts of their work,” he wrote.
Addressing a related issue, McRaven expressed concern over “the growing trend of using the special operations ‘brand,’ our seal, symbols and unit names, as part of any political or special interest campaign.”
“Let me be completely clear on this issue: U.S.S.O.C.O.M. does not endorse any political viewpoint, opinion or special interest,” he wrote.
Curious as to what OPSEC will have to say about this.
Edited to remove the name of the author out of consideration for him, his family and fellow SEALs