Matt Bissonnette was not expecting political controversy to arise when he released his new book, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden under the pseudonym Mark Owen. Yet upon releasing the New York Times best-seller, the ex-Navy SEAL ruffled the feathers of his former employer: the United States government.
Concerned that the book reveals “sensitive and classified information," the Pentagon is considering legal action against Bissonnette, who supposedly should have cleared his book with the United States government before publication.
But if the US military is so concerned about national security, then why would the CIA allow Hollywood director and screenwriters of the upcoming film Zero Dark Thirty access to insider information about the same Bin Laden raid? Couldn’t this film, inspired by information divulged directly from the CIA itself, also potentially reveal ‘sensitive and classified information’? What is the difference between Bissonnette’s book and the upcoming movie?
The conflict over No Easy Day is really about the federal control of information. The government is willing to support an artistic effort that will support their portrait of military accomplishments; other narratives are not only a threat to national security, but to the administration’s political security.
According to readers, No Easy Day does not divulge what would be considered confidential information. Rather, it explains the inner workings of the mind of a Navy SEAL and accounts for Bissonette’s personal experiences. In fact, what is most revealing about the book is its aim to set the record straight on conflicted media coverage about the SEAL’s raid of Bin Laden’s compound on May 2, 2011.
So why is the government up in arms?
Of course, they should be concerned with screening information that could ultimately weaken their strategies. The federal government’s most pressing concerns include power, money, and preserving its own reputation. It seems that when the government has control over the narrative and a chance to make a buck, they will be more than happy to share confidential information. But why rush to cover the mouths that could question whether or not Bin Laden still posed a threat?
For an administration that promised to end the war in Iraq and eliminate Al Qaeda’s leaders, dissent regarding Obama’s game-changing national security decision could threaten the potential for a second term.