The Navy SEAL who wrote a first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden under a pseudonym has been identified. Many media outlets have decided to publish his name.
TheBlaze is not identifying the author of the tell-all book at this time. Journalists often wrestle with the drive to tell the truth as fully as possible while at the same time being mindful to minimize potential harm.
The SEAL was first identified by Fox News on Thursday. One current and one former U.S. military official confirmed the name, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss military personnel matters.
The book, “No Easy Day,” is scheduled to be released Sept. 11, with the author listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen.
“Sharing the true story of his personal experience in ‘No Easy Day’ is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security,” said a statement by Christine Ball, Penguin Group spokeswoman. “That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym.”
On Thursday, TheBlaze’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker sat down with Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL and president of SOFREP.com, during a “Blazecast” to talk about the author of “No Easy Day,” whom Webb says he knows personally.
“I had spoke with the author personally over 6 months ago and at the time he was really torn between whether or not to write this book. And personally I don’t think he released any sensitive information in the book,” Webb said.
He added that he believes the publisher, Penguin, is using the controversy as a marketing tool to sell more books. However, at the same time, Webb said there is an unwritten rule in the SEAL community not to spill the beans on an operation like the one that killed bin Laden.
“It’s a timing issue. Too soon in my opinion,” he added.
“In this particular case I think keeping his name secret…would be next to impossible especially when you have a bunch of angry seals,” Webb explained.
“But again, it comes down to the ethics of the media outlet,” the former SEAL said, saying maybe the media should have put ethics over ratings in this instance.
Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint, the publisher, asked news organizations Thursday to withhold his identity. Obviously, they did not comply with the request.
“There’s a whole thing called ‘the threat chain,’ and once his name is out, it’s an easy Google search to find publicly available documents,” including his current and former addresses. Webb says that puts other people in danger and under scrutiny as well.
Watch the entire segment with Webb from today’s “Blazecast” here:
Special Operations Command spokesman Col. Tim Nye said the retired SEAL could be endangered by being identified, which could also expose those active-duty SEALs the author worked with in the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan last year.
The book and the author’s name also come out during a time of debate over the possible damage to U.S. national security by leaks in the media about top secret operations. Yet the book also comes at a time when special operations forces are prominently featured in the media as never before, even as the elite organizations demand secrecy.
A handful of special operations advocacy groups have sprung up decrying leaks, but they identify themselves by name as former members of some of the elite units, in an online campaign video that slams President Barack Obama for releasing details of the bin Laden raid.
One of the advocacy groups is run by retired Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke, who prominently mentions his time years ago at SEAL Team 6, the top secret unit that carried out the bin Laden raid.
Even Special Operations Command made an exception to its normal reticence with the media when it signed off on this year’s movie “Act of Valor,” which followed real active duty SEALs carrying out training exercises that were turned into what looked like real action scenes for the film.
The author of “No Easy Day” is slated to appear in shadow in promotional interviews for the book, meant to conceal his identify. The book is already listed as one of the top 10 books on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Beyond the risk he faces now that his identity is known, he could also face legal trouble if the Pentagon determines that he disclosed classified information in the account.
U.S. military and intelligence officials say they do not believe the book has been read or cleared by the Defense Department. The Pentagon reviews publications by military members — both active duty and retired — to make sure that no classified material is revealed.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.