Update: A US SOCOM source tells SOFREP that Admiral McRaven’s Public Affairs Officer has been in contact with the author directly, and that (apparently) no classified information has been disclosed in the memoir.
Public and community (SEAL) perception has arguably been set by the publisher (Penguin USA) that this is a “tell all” book. My take is that we wait to pass judgement until the book is released and everyone has had a look. While the timing of this book is up for debate, I personally think everyone will be surprised to find out that no Operational Security issues are at hand.
There’s blood in the water and the media sharks are hungry with the book “No Easy Day”, authored by a former DEVGRU Operator who was a team leader on the raid that killed UBL.
The Internet and social media has created a world where headlines live and die depending on who’s first to Tweet about it. It’s something that is causing major headaches in the US Special Operations community.
“The Admiral (SEAL) has locked down all media projects until further notice”- A SEAL Master chief recently told SOFREP.
Writing tell all books of this rare nature can come with tempting seven-figure contracts. It’s easy to sit back and say this SEAL operator sold out for big money, but before you judge maybe walk a mile in his shoes. More on this later.
The flipside is that I know the No Easy Day author personally, and am aware that he was tormented over whether to write this book under the auspice of selling out the community. Operators have already clearly stated this and at least one DEVGRU operator was quoted in Jack Murphy’s post.
The New York Times also falsely reported that the SEAL author is retired. He did not retire – he honorably separated in 2011 with no retirement benefits, and he has a family.
Thirteen deployments, over ten years of service, and no retirement benefits. Put a seven-figure book deal on the table and you’d have to ask yourself, “what would I do?”
And who is dangling the carrot for this SEAL author and counting their eggs before they hatch? Penguin, the publisher. It begs to question whether or not publishers should be held more accountable in the future.
Most books go through a lengthy legal review regardless of Military approval. However, this book received no Military review and it’s impossible for any lawyer to make Operational Security decisions when they aren’t privy to what’s classified on an operation. Any legal counsel would need at least a Top Secret clearance and have a need-to-know in order to make this call.
Penguin’s legal counsel clearly had none of the above. They would’ve had to rely on the DEVGRU SEAL’s judgement, and hopefully for his sake, it was solid judgement. I would expect that he revealed nothing pertaining to the UBL mission and that the publisher is leveraging his status to market a memoir, not a tell all book. Time will only tell.
There’s also a “Threat Chain” concern in this particular instance because Fox leaked his name in a move that would rival TMZ as a class act. The fact that this operator comes from DEVGRU so recently and Fox leaked his name puts others at risk. Example: A person I know bought his former house in Virginia and his family is now put at risk with an easy open source search of escrow documents.
Our opinion is that the publisher at Penguin clearly had no concern for National Security or Operational Security (OPSEC) with regards to ST6/DEVGRU, or they would have not published this book. Should publishers have more accountability? We say yes.
One thing that is certain, this former DEVGRU operator has been ostracized by the men of DEVGRU for good. I hope his royalty advance was worth it.