The commander of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command said a new book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was “the last straw.”
During a visit to Oklahoma City, Rear Adm. Sean Pybus said Thursday the book “No Easy Day,” a memoir written by former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, is a violation of the Navy's ideals and may have endangered U.S. troops. Pybus characterized the book as unacceptable.
By publishing the book, Pybus said, Bissonnette, who wrote under the pseudonym Mark Owen, was using his military history to seek attention and money — something that could damage the Navy's image.
“It ought to be enough to work with one of the military's finest forces,” he said.
Pybus told his force last week that “hawking details about a mission” and selling other information about SEAL training and operations puts the force and their families at risk.
“For an elite force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so,” Pybus wrote in a letter to the roughly 8,000 troops under his command. “We owe our chain of command much better than this.”
The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
Bissonnette, a member of SEAL Team Six, was a part of the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed the al-Qaida leader.
His book was released Sept. 4 and was at the top of the Amazon.com Best Sellers list Thursday.
Bissonnette's decision to release the book without review by Pentagon officials has generated controversy in recent weeks.
In the book, Bissonnette writes that he was ascending a staircase in the dark when a SEAL ahead of him opened fire at bin Laden as he peeked out of a second-floor doorway, according to The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the book. The SEALs discovered bin Laden lying in a pool of blood and fired several more times until his body stopped moving, the book claims.
Several details in his account differ slightly from those offered by administration officials in the hours and days after bin Laden's death.
Some officials said at the time that bin Laden was killed when it appeared he might be reaching for a weapon.
Pybus said the Navy's disapproval of the book didn't come out of a desire to hide its activities from the public eye. Accounts like Bissonnette's — even those that have key information redacted — can be revealing, he said. Any information gleaned from those accounts could put American troops in jeopardy in the future, he said.
Having revealing accounts of SEAL operations in the popular media also affects the organization's relationship with other special operations groups like the Army's Green Berets and Rangers. If other organizations are concerned about the SEALs' ability to keep secrets, they may feel pressure within their own chains of command, he said.
“The market is hot for these things, and they can stand to make a good bit of money,” he said. “But it's absolutely against our ethos.”
Contributing: The Associated Press