What a Former SEAL Never Says About SEAL Team Six

The former SEAL behind the book 'No Easy Day' didn't get his work vetted by the military. Here's why I did

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If I ever get a chance to meet the SEAL Team Six operator who allegedly took part in the bin Laden raid and is telling his story in the book No Easy Day (to be released this fall), the first thing I will do is shake his hand. I will congratulate him for being part of the operation that took out bin Laden and for his service to our country. Then I will advise him to pack up his family and move to an obscure part of the country, maybe in the mountains, and keep a low profile. Because by revealing his role in the killing of bin Laden, he’s made himself and his family a target of al-Qaeda extremists. Furthermore, he can expect some disapproval from the SEAL community — especially if his book reveals anything about the tactics, techniques or procedures used on the mission.

I say this from experience. I was a member of SEAL Team Six and I too wrote a book about it. Being a member of SEAL Team Six was the best job a SEAL could ever wish for. I was surrounded with the most experienced fighters in our country’s history, the most well-trained operators and a fun and motivated group of guys. Inside SEAL Team Six, which was published by Little, Brown last December, focused on some of my personal experiences in the SEAL teams and did not reveal any confidential or sensitive material. (The fact that Team Six even existed was top secret until the President revealed their role in killing Osama bin Laden on the night of May 1, 2011.)

(MORE: Navy SEAL Reportedly Set to Tell All About bin Laden Raid in New Book)

Shortly after the bin Laden raid, I was offered large amounts of money from several book publishers to reveal what I knew about the raid and what I knew about how SEAL Team Six operated. I turned those offers down, and made it clear that I would never reveal any secrets that could jeopardize the safety of my fellow SEALs.

I later agreed to talk about SEAL Team Six as part of my longer, personal story (including my troubled childhood and career in long-distance extreme sports), and made it clear to my publisher that anything I wrote would be rigorously vetted by both the government and military, including Naval Special Warfare. It was a long, often painful process and ended up delaying publication of the book for three months. But I felt strongly that it was important and necessary. Only after the military and government publication-review boards had made their redactions did I agree to have the book published.

(MORE: Jon Meacham: Why Obama Owns bin Laden)

The important thing for me was to be able to look myself in the mirror and know that I had done the right thing. The way I see it, there’s a big difference between talking or writing about how a particular experience has impacted your life and revealing classified tactics, techniques, procedures and operations. Military personnel should never disclose classified matters to those who do not have a need to know. Our job is to execute missions, which is what the SEALs did so ably and bravely that night in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

As military personnel, all of us are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement pledging never to reveal any classified information. It’s a lifelong commitment, and one that we all need to honor. On Thursday, Fox News and the Associated Press both claimed to have identified the author of No Easy Day as former SEAL Matt Bissonnette. I don’t believe that I ever knew Bissonnette, nor is his name familiar to me. But I sincerely hope he has abided by the same pledge. Yes, we live in a democracy where the public has a real desire to know information, but we also live in a very dangerous world where military secrets need to be preserved for the safety of our military personnel and, ultimately, the safety of those they protect.

MORE: SEALs Turned Authors: A Military Reading List

26 comments
beasterdamus
beasterdamus

Don,

I haven't read the book, but I still remember those long runs in the park during Green Team...I won all those run swim runs, or most of them, but I left on graduation day. You were my only competition...

Hope you are well...

Chinga_Tu_Madre
Chinga_Tu_Madre

The enemy knows more about our secrets than the average American, and it's not because the press or anyone else is telling them.

Stop the pretense. Nothing about this country so important as warrant classification. Except the UPC codes for items in the PX.

Graham Locke
Graham Locke like.author.displayName 1 Like

The fact that Team Six even existed was top secret until the President

revealed their role in killing Osama bin Laden on the night of May 1,

2011.?!?!?!?!? 

Uhh...one of the primary architects of Seal Team Six, Captain Richard Marcinko, wrote at least 5 semi-fictional books on Team Six and has been interviewed countless times on TV.  Why do people say stuff that is so patently false and so easy to fact-check?

sealteamjohn
sealteamjohn

Mr. Mann's book WAS filled with classified information! The GOVERNMENT security people blacked out almost HALF THE BOOK because it contained CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!!! I can't believe that no reporter has asked him why so much of his book is blacked out! He TRIED to publish classified secrets and only the review process stopped all of his secret telling for profit! Look at his book yourself!

jdeloyelong
jdeloyelong

@sealteamjohn Um, he DIDN'T try, he was happy to have the book redacted and knew it would be, the safety of his brothers and missions is ALWAYS his 1st concern.  He explained why he left the redacting in the book.

Al Swearengen
Al Swearengen

It's the rightwing way.

Get a hangnail?  Blame Obama.  Got a headache?  Blame Obama.  Rains on your parade?  Blame Obama.

Then you can sell your book to cranky old racist white men.  They'll believe anything bad about Obama, true or not.

Greg Williams
Greg Williams like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hey Don, your intel's a little faulty on this one.  The president did not identify SEAL Team Six on the Bin Laden raid and the existence of Team Six is not Top Secret because I've known about them for years and I don't have a TS clearance, never have.  I learned about Team Six from reading books (that's plural) authored by Richard "Rouge Warrior" Marcinko, the first and former commander of Team Six, back in the 90s.

ThatsWhatImTalkinBout
ThatsWhatImTalkinBout

So this is another ST6 member wishing his colleagues conducted themselves more like say Delta Force whose missions we never hear about and who never write books or make workout videos, etc.

Zinya
Zinya

Time, can't you edit and fact check what you publish?  You are aiding and abetting the repetition of a circulated myth that is completely unfounded.  I am referring to Don Mann's parenthetical claim "(The fact that Team Six even existed was top secret until the President revealed their role in killing Osama bin Laden on the night of May 1, 2011.)"

Don't take my word for it, here's a full fact-checking:

http://www.politifact.com/trut...

...although I too heard Pres. Obama's words the night of May 1.  The set of manufactured myths about what Obama has claimed or revealed or whatever about the bin Laden mission is partisan flak and when you at Time just keep airing these myths, you discredit yourselves and fuel misinformation impacting readers and voters.   

Here are the transcribed words of the entire May 1st address Obama made to the nation: 

http://www.washingtontimes.com...

You'll see that Pres. Obama never once referred to Team Six or to Seals or any identifying information about those on the mission.  This is the entirety of what he said about those on the mission:

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body....Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day."

Do your job, Time.  Fact check.  Don't post or publish myths.  Even the ones you blithely print to presumably try to maintain your own bona fides with the far right.

Zinya
Zinya

Time, can't you edit and fact check what you publish?  You are allowing repetition of a circulated myth that is completely unfounded.  I am referring to Don Mann's parenthetical claim "(The fact that Team Six even existed was top secret until the President revealed their role in killing Osama bin Laden on the night of May 1, 2011.)"

Don't take my word for it, here's a full fact-checking:

http://www.politifact.com/trut...

...although I too heard Pres. Obama's words the night of May 1.  The set of manufactured myths about what Obama has claimed or revealed or whatever about the bin Laden mission is partisan flak and when you at Time just keep airing these myths, you discredit yourselves and fuel misinformation impacting readers and voters.   

Here are the transcribed words of the entire May 1st address Obama made to the nation: 

http://www.washingtontimes.com...

You'll see that Pres. Obama never once referred to Team Six or to Seals or any identifying information about those on the mission.  This is the entirety of what he said about those on the mission:

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body....Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day."

 

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

There are many like me who are clear it is never reasonable to assassinate another human being. So to reveal it is done is doing a service for the rest of us. One of the most persistent urban legend is the idea that fighting wars protects us. What protects us in my mind is our commitment to the inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution. With rare exceptions, we fight wars because our government has agendas, not because out freedoms are actually threatened. 

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Warren, go to Yemen or Somalia or the Sudan and preach your jibberish, then you might gain some respect. It's really easy to spout off about unalienable rights (unalienable is the word the Declaration uses, by the way) sitting in the safety of your home while someeone else insures your freedom to do so.

Xolani Mahlangeni
Xolani Mahlangeni

My dear friend even you know there is thing called an exception. Ideally Bin Laden should been captured alive but to make that the sole objective of the mission would have unnecessarily put the SEAls at great risk. Bin Laden has been the most wanted man for more than a decade. That should tell you how risky this all was.

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

Xolani, It was obvious according to the Administration's own press releases, that it was intended to kill Bin Laden before the Seals even left their home base. And given the official description of the event, they could have captured him without a single loss of life or injury. Why they didn't is a question that demands an answer, because who in Al Queda had more intelligence to offer???? To me, the only rational answer is that interrogating him and putting him on trial would reveal to the public much of our government's pronouncements of Al Queda's various actions are deliberate lies. 

But my main point had nothing to do with Bin Laden. It was oriented to what I consider to be the totally false premise the wars protect liberties, and that it is reason to send out assassination teams to implement foreign policy.

jaseandrew
jaseandrew

Kind of true. Bin Laden was wanted, but not for 9/11. It was for the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Dar es Salam. ( check it out yourself http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topt... ) It was just the Bush hype and fear campaign that lead the media to link him to 9/11. The fact remains that there was not enough evidence for the FBI to link Bin Laden to 9/11. Same as Sadam Hussein to Al Quaeda. 

panasian
panasian

If given a choice, I would take SFOD-D(aka DELTA FORCE) over the SEAL TEAM 6.   The DELTA FORCE is composed of true  SILENT and deadly  professionals.   The SEALS  remind me of very   immature adolesent braggards.

WhiskeySausage
WhiskeySausage

The author of this article couldn't help but plug HIS book. I wonder if he's angry that No Easy Day is getting more publicity then his book. Hahahahhaha, ohh... how sad.

Guest
Guest

sealt team 6 was not top secret. u could look it up on wikipedia long before the raid, but it was not acknowledged by the govt. 

2Fruitans
2Fruitans

I miss the days when news sources had fact checkers. The author states, "(The fact that Team Six even existed was top secret until the President revealed their role in killing Osama bin Laden on the night of May 1, 2011.)"

President Obama did not mention Seal Team Six. He did not mention Seals were involved. He did not even use the words Special Operations or Special Forces. He said, "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability." This is easily verified by listening to, watching, or reading the transcript of the president's announcement that evening.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

At the risk of seeming to quibble, the author does not work for Time and this is an opinion piece.  Mann shows his hand by repeating the common right wing lie that President Obama compromised classified information.  But in opinion pieces, it is inappropriate to edit even right wing lies.

The usual disclaimer that the views expressed are the author's alone does seem to be missing, so I could be wrong. In any event, you are absolutely correct about the lie.

Al Swearengen
Al Swearengen

Yeah, he lies.  The rightwinger way these days.  Lie without honor.  Pretend like nobody had ever heard of Seal Team Six.

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

 More ironically, the people who confirmed the existence of the Navy Seal were former SEALS, such as this author here.  I guess it's hard to look into a mirror.

Marcus Taylor
Marcus Taylor

And this was all accomplished while President Obama was "schooling" Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

This man plays Chess while the Repubs play checkers ...