For more than a year, journalists and filmmakers have tried to piece together what happened the night Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
President Obama recently allowed NBC News’ Brian Williams inside the Situation Room and recounted the events of the night from his perspective. Through interviews with military officials, the New Yorker painted a more vivid picture of what happened inside the terrorist leader’s residential compound the night of May 1, 2011.
But the more granular details of the raid—one of the most highly classified operations in U.S. history—have remained tightly guarded by the few people who were actually there, until now.
According to the publisher, “No Easy Day,” is “a blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended [the author’s] life, straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death.”
Dutton describes the author, who is published under the pseudonym Mark Owen, as one of the first men through the door of Bin Laden’s Abbottabad hideout and a witness to his death.
The book comes at a time when the Obama administration is fending off accusations that it has leaked details of the Bin Laden raid for political gain.
A film about the raid by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty,” stirred up criticism among some Republicans who questioned why the filmmakers were provided access to sensitive information. Others objected to its original October release date, complaining that it was too close to the presidential election. The film will now be released in December.
This book, however, is not based on interviews or second-hand leaks, but on an account from a former SEAL with a high level security clearance, who apparently did not seek permission to write the tell-all.
Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told The New York Times that, “We learned about this book today from press reports. We haven’t reviewed it and don’t know what it says.”
John Kirby, the Navy’s chief spokesman added that “the author did not seek Navy support/approval for this book. We have no record of any request from an author associated with that book company.”
Whether officials decide to prosecute Owen for disclosing classified information is unclear.
Pat Rowan, a former Justice Department national security lawyer told NBC News that the government might be reluctant to prosecute someone who is regarded as a hero for killing America’s most wanted terrorist, and pointed out that prosecution would give the author’s lawyer the right to “dig into the information that was disclosed by the White House” in sanctioned and unsanctioned leaks.
A DOJ official also told NBC News that he was not aware of any legal action against the former SEAL.
The 336-page book, co-authored by journalist Kevin Maurer, is said to honor "the men who risk everything for our country," and leave readers "with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe."