Get Ready to Rethink the Osama bin Laden Raid
There have been numerous revisions to the official account of how Osama bin Ladan was killed on May 2, 2011, but a new book, set for release on September 11, promises to deliver what no one else has: The perspective of a Navy SEAL who actually participated in the raid. The New York Times' Julie Bosman reports that Penguin is releasing a new book on the raid written under a pseudonym by a SEAL Team 6 member titled No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden. Per Bosman:
It promises to be one of the biggest books of the year, with the potential to affect the presidential campaign in the final weeks before the election. The author’s name will be listed as Mark Owen by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin. For security reasons, he used a pseudonym and changed the names of other Seal members. A former member of Seal Team Six, the author was a team leader in the operation that resulted in the death of bin Laden...
According to a description of the book, provided by a publishing executive, the author gives a “blow-by blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.”
There have been many attempts to write the authoritative history on how the nighttime raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan played out, but none have escaped criticism. The New Yorker's long report by Nicholas Schmidle initially garnered praise until it was revealed he hadn't spoken with any of the SEALs who participated in the mission. The next big shot came from former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer whose book SEAL Target Geronimo listed several discrepancies with the official White House narrative. But that quickly came under fire as current and former military officials depicted him as a fabricator. Will this book be the final say? Whatever the case, its September 11 release date is sure to shakeup the presidential race. According to The Times, "The publishing executives familiar with the deal would not say to what extent the book was vetted by government agencies."
Update: Surprisingly, it appears neither the White House nor the Pentagon were involved with the book, reports Politico's Byron Tau:
"I haven't read the book and am unaware that anyone in the Department has reviewed it," Pentagon spokesman George Little told POLITICO.
Agencies like the CIA routinely review sensitive books by employees or ex-employees to avoid disclosure of material that could jeopardize national security. In this case, no review by government officials took place.
The White House denied offering any cooperation with the anonymous writer. "We learned about this book today from press reports. We haven't reviewed it and don't know what it says," Tommy Vietor, National Security Council spokesman, told POLITICO.