One Raid, Two Tales, Two SEALs

tridentSupposedly, they’re going to have the guy who plugged Bin Laden on Fox (warning, Daily Caller link, often has autoplay spam1).

Meanwhile, the guy who wrote a book about it under the pseudonym Mark Owen is under criminal investigation. According to the New York Times, investigators have been shadowing his speaking engagements. According to the Times, “Owen’s2” decision to write a book came about after then-SecDef Leon Panetta pressured unit members to tell their stories exclusively to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, a propaganda film lionizing the CIA and the Administration.

[“Owen’s” lawyer] said [Former SEAL Marc] Bissonnette had decided to write “No Easy Day” after Leon E. Panetta, then the C.I.A. director, urged some of the members of SEAL Team 6 to cooperate with the producers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” The filmmakers benefited from extensive assistance from the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

“Matt’s view was: ‘Wait a minute. This is our story, not their story,’ ” Mr. Luskin said. “And why should that story be told through the mouths of others?”

While his “crime” is ostensibly breach of classified TTPs, his real offense was to publish a story that was substantially different from the largely-fictional version released by DC officialdom and already massaged into two below-average films: Zero Dark Thirty and the even worse TV outing, SEAL Team SIX, which has the production values and plot of a North Korean propaganda flick.

Reuters graphic of the bin-the-bin raid. Timeline, etc., based off the "official" leaks from Panetta and others.

Reuters graphic of the bin-the-bin raid. Timeline, etc., based off the “official” leaks from Panetta and others. Actually, two aircraft delivered the SEALs. The helicopter was not hit by an RPG, but some .gov “source” made up the story and Reuters ran with it single-source. Because that’s what J-school “pros” do.

What’s at stake here is who can write about classified operations. Traditionally, this privilege has been part of the de facto Title of Nobility that comes with being a member of Codevilla’s Political Class: the Yarvard apparatchiks who take great pleasure in bossing special operators around, but cringe at the idea of actually being among them. No general officer, flag officer, political appointee or SES member has ever been punished for publishing a book, no matter what he revealed (such books frequently blow sources and methods; one actually blew a hyper-sensitive, code-word protected special-purpose cryptosystem). And no junior staff member has ever been punished — so long as his book came later, and supported the narrative, of the Political Class books. But “Owen” may soon join Fred Snepp (a junior CIA officer at the time of the fall of Saigon) in the ranks of those for whom the 1st Amendment must be bent, if not broken.

Snepp lost a precedent-making lawsuit; his ostensible crime was the same as Bissonnette’s, but hisreal crime was to expose the cynicism of SecState Henry Kissinger’s Nobel-Prize Winning deal to delay the fall of Saigon until a “Decent Interval” (the title of Snepp’s book) had passed, and to expose the failure of the CIA to protect its human sources in Vietnam.  These “secrets” were certainly known to America’s enemies, with whom the first had been deliberately negotiated and to whom the second, in the form of the personnel files of human agents, had been mistakenly delivered. The purpose of the secrecy Snepp (and Bissonnette) breached was to keep the American public in the dark in order to polish political reputations. 

Updates

The Pentagon really wants to reserve discussion of this raid to people who have been to the right schools (and BUD/S doesn’t count), or maybe, signed-on to Hillary 2016. They’ve threatened the SEAL in a “nice life you have here, shame if you lost it” statement through an otherwise insignificant Pentagon spokes-dolly, Navy Commander Amy Derrick-Frost, who almost certainly was mouthing words written for her by someone much higher up the totem pole.

Notes

1. We previously have not named Owen, but that ship has well and truly sailed, and the media long ago outed him — thanks possibly to Panetta and other figures tied in with the Zero Dark Thirty project — so we give up.

2. We’ve finally beaten autoplay spam in Safari with a well-behaved Safari plugin, Click-to-plugin by Mark Hoyois.

11 thoughts on “One Raid, Two Tales, Two SEALs

    1. Miles

      When the extreme higher end of TPTB decide to make a buck off what’s happened, make up some hogwash story that fits their narrative, and damn the consequences, some people at the pointy end of the stick sometimes decide to make sure the correct story is told. Off times with the middle finger firmly pointing skyward.

      Mostly they get the scarlet letters sewn on.

      Others decide to not write a book (although they could) and just keep their mouths shut about where they’ve been, what they’ve seen.

      Seeking boredom, as opposed to a career of the alternative, is sometimes to be desired.

  1. Doctor Fierce

    Anyone think this mess would have looked a lot different had another unit been involved? Embarrassing, across the board.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Old joke: Q: Why does an SF ODA have 12 men and a SEAL platoon have 14?

      A: Each has all the necessary specialties, but the Navy defines that to include the camera and sound man.

      Thanks. I’ll be in the blog all week, remember to tip your waitress!

      1. Miles

        As funny as that one is (and yes, it’s a good one) suddenly I was seeing lots of GoPros on helmet mounts, and the associated footage taken posted on the portal, before I retired.

        1. Hognose Post author

          We had a guy who managed, once he found himself teamless, to convince CJSOTF that since in civilian life he was a newspaperman (!), he was best employed as a roving photographer/historian. He bummed around the whole theater getting underfoot but we tolerated him because he was one of our guys and doing it for the command, right?

          He dumped his pictures, an exaggerated story, and rather more TTPs than we would have liked to let out, including some details about our limitations in logistics and communications terms, to Soldier of Fiction.

          It was a career-ending byline, that one.

          But we didn’t compound the problem by getting politicians to make threats or filing suit in Federal court. That would have really launched his new career.

          He didn’t intend any damage, he just didn’t understand how much damage a few little bits of the mosaic or puzzle would do. In a perfect world, the OPSEC instruction would include serious instruction on our intel cycle, and how a small morsel can unlock a big picture for CIA, NSA, NGA, NRO and military analysts. They won’t do it because of the sensitivity of analytical TTPs and the unpleasant fact that all our guys are in a much higher risk-of-capture environment than any of the analysts.

          This is one reason to have the ass at Bradley Manning. Manning had at least a dim idea of the utility of small details and he dumped entire hard drives of details he didn’t understand. Completely apart from the changes it made in the behavior of adverse parties, we’ve been shut off from allied and friendly programs (and even combined programs that we funded!) because of the loss of trust from his revelations, and we don’t know what’s not being offered to our liaisons these days. The Anglosphere (Five Eyes) is still mutually open, but there’s a lot of furious Europeans and Asians out there.

          1. Miles

            When most of a proposed recruiting video was somehow released, the precise quotation from the Unit Commander at the time was that we were “Not going to make another rock music video.” (we didn’t) as well as that particular Commander really working to figure out who “that guy” was.

            The little tranny’s treacherous deed has had more effects than most people will ever know. Without being precise, one of the ways my subordinate command did business was forced by another executive department to be changed and all new people required to use it.

  2. Y.

    The purpose of the secrecy Snepp (and Bissonnette) breached was to keep the American public in the dark in order to polish political reputations.

    Part and parcel of democratic politics. Perhaps it’s best for democracies to not be involved in worldwide conflicts.

    The American Republic died after V-day. You defeated the Axis but let USSR win. Which meant US had to either let USSR gobble up the rest of the world or become an imperial state, one incompatible with “a constitutional, representative, limited government in the republican form.” (quote from a 1953 essay by Garet Garrett)

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