Was Fox News wrong to ID the Navy SEAL who wrote about killing Osama bin Laden?
Fox News has identified the former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who has written a book billed as a firsthand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The ex-commando, who wrote under the pseudonym "Mark Owen," is really Matt Bissonnette, 36, of Wrangell, Alaska, according to Fox. The Associated Press reported Thursday that a military official had confirmed the author's identity. The book, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden, is due to be released on Sept. 11. Pentagon officials say they did not vet the unauthorized account of the raid on the late al Qaeda mastermind's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and that if the author has revealed any classified information, he could be prosecuted. A spokesman for the publisher, Penguin, said outing the author could put his safety at risk — and the Fox correspondent who reported Bissonnette's name even wrote an article last year on how members of the raid team were guarding their anonymity out of security concerns. Was it wrong for Fox to blow Bissonnette's cover?
Yes. Unmasking the author was grossly irresponsible: "Why would Fox News out a Navy SEAL who made the world a safer place?" asks Global Grind. Not only does that put him and his family in potential danger, but, should terrorists target members of SEAL Team 6 to avenge bin Laden's death, this provides them some string to potentially track down all of the members of the special operations team that participated in the raid. If anyone is prosecuted, maybe it should be Fox.
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Bissonnette brought this on himself: That was fast, says Dan Amira at New York. The plan was for "Owen" to do publicity interviews in disguise to protect his anonymity. But come on: "If this particular Navy SEAL was super concerned about maintaining his privacy, he probably wouldn't have written a blockbuster book about the most famous special forces operation in American history." It is a tad ironic, though, that it was flag-waving Fox News that blew the whistle on a war hero.
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And he broke a code of silence: If you really want to hear some "shock and outrage," says Eli Lake at The Daily Beast, try talking about this with another Navy SEAL. The members of the Navy's secret, elite commando force "practice a Mafia-like code of omerta." In fact, these guys sign a nondisclosure agreement that is binding during and after their service, and if they do write a book, they're supposed to let the Pentagon "scrub the texts of any classified information."
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