September 10, 2012, - 1:36 pm
Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette Should be Prosecuted (But Won’t Be): “No Easy Day” & the “60 Minutes” Interview
Did you see last night’s CBS News “60 Minutes” interview with former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette (some sources say his real name is Mark Bisonnette) a/k/a “Mark Owen”? If you missed it, I’ve posted the video below. The author of “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” says he is one of two SEALs who shot Osama Bin Laden in last year’s raid on the crappiest-looking “mansion” ever–the Bin Laden compound in Abottabad, Pakistan. The interview was timed to coincide with the release of the book.
Yes, the interview was interesting and riveting. Yes, it was cool to see and hear what the raid was like, the planning that went into it, and how it went down. And it answered a gawker-like curiosity: who the SEAL that shot Bin Laden was, what he looks like, and what his mannerisms are? But America does not need to learn this information. And a Navy SEAL disclosing it is no different than a U.S. soldier releasing thousands of classified documents via Wikileaks. Different motives, but the same illicit behavior. It’s a national security risk. And a huge violation of what Mark Bissonnette agreed to do when he signed the agreement every Navy SEAL must sign, agreeing to keep details of his missions confidential.
For those on the right who want to make this about a SEAL exposing frauds told by Barack Obama, that’s ridiculous. This isn’t about Obama or “getting” him politically. Obama will be gone in four months or four years. But the damage of what Mark Bissonnette did will last far longer and is more important than politics: government officials breaching top secret clearances and classified restrictions that are there for a reason. And for that Bissonnette should be prosecuted, but he won’t be. He won’t be prosecuted because . . . good luck finding a jury who will convict and send to prison the man that killed the mastermind of the largest massacre of Americans on U.S. soil (or anywhere else).
Bissonnette claimed in last night’s interview that he didn’t release any confidential information or breach any restrictions regarding the disclosure of sources and methods. But I’m not so sure. And he can’t be either. The Pentagon says there is classified information in the book, and Pentagon officials would know this far better than Bissonnette, who is trained to do his job, not to know which details are a secret and which aren’t. That’s for the military brass to decipher, not him.
Bissonnette seems like a cool guy, the kind you’d want to have a beer with. He’s definitely a hero for what he did and for doing it well. But disclosing it to the public is not heroic at all. It’s shameless publicity-seeking, and sets a dangerous precedent for those who come after him and not just in the Navy SEALs, but in the Green Berets, Special Forces, etc. The men who go into these professions know they are supposed to remain nameless, faceless, and silent. Sadly, in recent years, the Navy SEALs have become a league of publicity hounds, from the anti-Semitic, cheesy “Act of Valor” movie (read my review) to Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who modestly calls himself the best there is–”the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history–in the title of his own book. You don’t see this kind of braggadocio from the Army Special Forces and other similar outfits in the U.S. Armed Forces. And that’s because they know the deal. You don’t get to talk. We simply cannot operate with everyone in these positions of secrecy blabbing to the world. And if you do speak publicly, particularly in a book, you have to run it through the Pentagon to review it first. Bissonnette didn’t do this. He broke the rules and should pay the price, but he won’t.
My friend, FBI Special Agent Robert Wright, was involved in several high-level HAMAS terrorist investigations in the U.S. (some of them with strong ties to Al-Qaeda), including “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” Bob spoke out on ABC News after 9/11 because the Bush Administration was doing nothing to remove Specially Designated Terrorists from HAMAS from America’s streets. He said more people would die if he did not do something to push the Bush Administration into action. And he was right. But the FBI went after him for speaking out on ABC News. And he wrote two books on the matter, but he did the right thing. He submitted them to the FBI for review, and the FBI won’t allow him to release them. He filed suit and continues to be embroiled in the fight to get these books published. It’s unfair to him and the many federal officials doing important work in the fight against Islamic terrorism that they must wait forever and go through the process, while Bissonnette just does what he wants, despite agreeing to do otherwise when he took the job.
While I was riveted by his interview last night, perhaps I’m out of line for saying so, but other than entertainment, I got only three things out of the interview: 1) that Bissonnette is kinda chubby–which was surprising because Navy SEALs are supposed to be physical specimens of superhuman strength and endurance (but they spent four hours disguising him, so that might explain it, although he doesn’t look too different from purported photos of himself floating around the net); 2) that Bissonnette while rumored, according to FOX News–which outed him, to live in Alaska, has to be from Boston or somewhere in New England with his use of the adjective “wicked” when he called the CIA agent, “wicked smart”–a Boston colloquialism; and 3) that the CIA agent who planned the whole thing is named Jennifer or “Jen” (apparently, her parents got the “Jennifer” memo of the late ’60s and ’70s). Hmmm . . . if we are to believe that there was actually a CIA agent named Jen who planned the whole thing–and that it’s not a propaganda story designed to prop up and recruit women to the CIA or make Al-Qaeda mad that a woman helped take its leader down, if I were an Al-Qaeda spy I’d be looking for a CIA agent named Jen to target for a hit (assuming that is her real first name and not a pseudonym).
Other than those three useless (except to the enemy) items and sheer entertainment value, there was no reason for the interview and no reason for the book. We really didn’t need to know any of this or what is in the book, whatever it is (I haven’t read it, but the Pentagon brass have, and they’re angry). America would have missed nothing had Mark Bissonnette chosen to stay silent. In fact, we’d be better off seeing the dead Bin Laden photos, which Barack Obama still won’t let us see out of concern over angering his Muslim friends, rather than hear Bissonnette’s story, which adds nothing to our knowledge base beyond superficial entertainment and adds everything to aiding and abetting the enemy in knowing our operational tactics and procedures.
And, finally, there is the issue of both FOX News and CBS News’ Scott Pelley, the uber-arrogant, exuberantly officious anchor of the nightly newscast no one watches, who did last night’s interview with Bissonnette. Pelley repeatedly called Bissonnette by his now-useless alias, “Mark Owen.” That’s silly because he was outed weeks ago, and everyone now knows who he is. Genie’s out of the bottle, dude. For Scott Pelley to act like he’s some high-brow journalist for sticking to the pseudonym is beyond absurd. And don’t forget that it was FOX News Channel a/k/a “PAWNN” (the Prince Al-Waleed News Network) that outed Bissonnette, giving his real name and telling us he lives in Alaska. I’m sure someone will tell me that if PAWNN didn’t do it, another network would have. Riiight. Puh-leeze. If CNN or MSNBC or ABC or CBS had outed Bissonnette, conservatives would be pouncing all over them for the obvious reasons: it’s not patriotic, and it’s harmful to national security. But since FOX News is the faux-conservative network, all is forgiven by the hypocrites on the right.
FOX News’ lame excuse for outing him is that he “had no reasonable expectation of privacy,” something we’d hear out of the mouths of Al-Jazeera terrorist sympathizers and mainstream American media outlet Marxists in the New York Times or at ABC News. How ’bout patriotic Americans’ “reasonable expectation” that FOX News actually cares about America’s national security and this man’s safety? More important, what about the reasonable expectation of safety and anonymity of the fellow SEALs on the mission, who did not write books? Any terrorist that finds this guy could torture him or find some other way of learning the names and identities of the others.
Back to Pelley, who did last night’s interview. he’s is a crappy “reporter” who creates propaganda, as he did when he “interviewed” Hezbollah spy/former CIA/FBI agent, Nada Nadim Al-Aouar DelaDurataye Valley Prouty, in which he repeatedly lied to the viewers on her behalf in a phony sob story of “patriotism.” Pelley does us no favors here in his interview with Bissonnette, in which he repeatedly feigns amazement, regarding Bissonnette’s claim that some Navy SEALs caught an hour of sleep on the helicopter to the Bin Laden kill or that, after the mission was over, Bissonnette went to Taco Bell for a meal. Not sure why any of these stories are surprising. Was he expecting Bissonnette to tell him that, after the mission, he no longer had the human need for food and calories? He’s a human like everyone else.
And like too many other humans, in our fame-obsessed Facebook/Twitter/YouTube era, Mark Bissonnette couldn’t completely pledge himself to patriotism and American national security by shutting the bleep up.
I agree with General James Vaught, a retired officer who oversaw the Army’s elite Delta forces. He criticized the SEALs’ involvement in “Act of Valor” and takes the same view of Bissonnette.
“Get the hell out of the media . . . We don’t ever want to get to the point where our sensitive tactics, techniques and procedures are open for everybody to take a look at so the next time we come in on a target we are exposed.”
On Friday, Gen. Vaught criticized Mr. Bissonnette for circumventing the traditional military vetting process and seeking to elevate himself.
“They are trying to appoint themselves as unique heroes, when they’re no damn thing. I had guys that worked for me that make them look like children,” he said.
“I think it’s a stupid act and a very grand disservice to the other members of the SEAL community,” Gen. Vaught said.
Mark (or Matt) Bissonnette’s thirteen combat deployments and successful SEAL Team Six Bin Laden mission are heroic and valorous. His public discussion of the Bin Laden mission is neither.
Tags: 60 Minutes, Abottabad compound, bin Laden, Bin Laden Assassination, Bin Laden Kill, CIA agent Jen, CIA Agent Jennifer, FBI Special Agent Robert Wright, FOX News, Gen. James Vaught, General James Vaught, Mark Bissonnette, Mark Owen, Matt Bissonnette, Navy SEAL, Navy SEALS, No Easy Day, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, Robert Wright, Scott Pelley, wicked, wicked smart