Former US Navy SEAL Mark Bissonnette, the
best selling author sellout who wrote “No Easy Day,” the unauthorized (and possibly embellished) story of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, is back in the news and back in trouble with the law. His latest troubles involve reports alleging, perhaps unsurprisingly, that while still a member of SEAL Team Six, he used his position within the elite Special Operations community for personal gain. The incident of Bissonnette and other SEALs profiting from “consulting” for video game producers was already widely reported years ago. This new investigation is looking into reports that Bissonnette and other SEALs may have heavily influenced the equipment acquisition process for SEAL Team Six in a way that benefited them personally. These are no petty charges; this could lead to a felony corruption investigation that not only ensnares Bissonnette and those who worked with him on his “side deals,” it could further the damage the reputation and professional image of SEAL Team Six and the US Special Operations community as a whole.
Apparently the details of the potentially-illegal activity were uncovered after Bissonnette agreed to hand over his personal hard drive, which–get this– included classified pictures of a freshly-killed Osama Bin Laden. Bissonnette did this as part of an arrangement with the feds to end an investigation into his frequent and detailed unauthorized disclosures of national security information. In pursuing that attempted deal, Bissonnette sought to avoid jail time by turning over “some of the millions of dollars” he earned for his illegal book deal and subsequent movie deal.
“Some of the millions?” I’m sorry, but not only should Bissonnette have to forfeit every penny he ever earned peddling his story about one of the most sensitive SOF operations in history, he should have to forfeit his freedom as well. He clearly has a history of using his SEAL-ness for personal gain; that is illegal, immoral, unethical, and a slap in the face of every man and woman who jocks up every night and goes out to do their job, and doesn’t come home to write a tell-all book about it.
I have an extensive background in the Special Operations community and I know that every one of us signs non-disclosure agreements in which we pledge to maintain the integrity of the information we gain access to as part of our official duties. We are also given extensive briefings about what constitutes lawful behavior when it comes to influencing the acquisitions processes and accepting money for outside employment. Bissonnette seems to have frequently and almost shamelessly violated both his own NDAs, military ethics, and the norms of the SOF community. His actions, if proven in a court of law, should be punished accordingly.
Bissonnette’s name is reportedly inscribed on a “rock of shame” outside SEAL Team 6 headquarters, alongside others who are officially “persona non grata” at that elite unit. Fair enough. But until he’s wearing prison garb and forced to give up every penny he gained through his illegal activities, the limited actions by the government will not be enough to discourage others from putting personal financial interests over government security interests in the future. That should be a concern to all of us.