New book by retired Navy SEAL offers on-the-scene account of bin Laden raid

Here and Now

A detailed first-person account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will be published next month.

The author, publishing under a psuedonym, was a member of of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 during its operation to capture or kill bin Laden’s death on May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The book will come out just weeks before the presidential election and enters a political landscape that already includes a 22-minute film that features former U.S. military and intelligence officers criticizing President Barack Obama who they say has allowed leaks of classified intelligence on the raid for political gain.

Greg Jaffe, who covers the Pentagon for the Washington Post, said its his sense the CIA, White House and Pentagon were all taken by surprise by the book’s publishing. It’s a crime for active duty or retired military members to reveal classified intelligence information.

“I can’t recollect, at least in recent memory, a situation similar to this,” Jaffe said.

Of course, it’s not the first time a book has been published about military events. In one, notable case, Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer wrote Operation Dark Heart and, after the book had already been printed, the Defense Department determined it contained sensitive information. The Pentagon bought up all of those copies, Jaffe said, and the book was republished in what the Pentagon considered a more acceptable form.

Of course, this isn’t even the first words on the raid. A movie has been produced and a lengthy article published in The New Yorker have both detailed the moments leading up to and through the raid that killed bin Laden.

But still, Jaffe said, the intelligence community tends to be very concerned about any disclosure of information.

“I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be worried. I’m sure they are,” Jaffe said.

Jaffe said that, while the author is remaining anonymous publicly, it’s highly unlikely the Pentagon doesn’t know exactly who he is.

“It’s a pretty small number of people who were on that raid. I would think the number of people who also retired in the last year is an even smaller subset,” he said.

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