Fox News Reveals Identity Of Seal Team 6 Member Involved In Bin Laden Raid

Today we learned that a member of Seal Team 6 involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden would be publishing a book detailing what happened in that raid. In an of itself, this seemed odd only because it sounds as if the book will reveal many new details about the raid that have been secret until now. Additionally, it quickly became apparent that nobody in the Pentagon or the CIA had reviewed the book to ensure it was not revealing classified information (generally standard procedure at least with former intelligence officers), nor were they apparently even aware of the planned publication. Now, the story has taken an even stranger turn thanks to Fox News Channel:

Fox News is likely to take some heat for publicizing the name of the Navy SEAL Team 6 member and anonymous author of the upcoming tell-all No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden.

Thursday morning, the network published an article by Justin Fishel that, citing “multiple sources,” identifies the author (who goes by pseudonym “Mark Owen”) to be a 36-year-old recently retired Navy SEAL from Alaska who was “one of the first men through the door” of Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound the night of that fateful raid.

Not only did Fox News’ website name the SEAL, but the network also broadcast his full name Thursday morning during a report by Jennifer Griffin.

“Owen” has already received hefty criticism from current and former SEALs for writing the book. “How do we tell our guys to stay quiet when this guy won’t?” one told Fox; others called him a “traitor.”

And now that his real name is seemingly out there, critics are concerned that Fox has opened “Owen” up to potential violent reprisals from jihadists seeking to avenge bin Laden; and the outing opens the SEAL up to legal troubles with the Justice Department for exposing classified information.

Fishel’s publishing of the SEAL’s name is especially interesting given that last year, he reported that SEAL Team 6-s members wanted to protect their identities out of concern for their safety. “There has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identity of those that participated in the raid and I think that that has to continue,”

It’s unclear how Fishel was able to obtain Owens’s real name (you can click through to the Fox article if you want to see it), but one assumes it could only have come from the publisher or someone familiar with the authorship of the book. I find it hard to believe that anyone in the Pentagon would have revealed such information to a reporter given that the identity of members of SEAL teams are typically a tightly guarded secret simply to protect their safety as well as that of their family and friends.

If it had been CNN or MSNBC that had done this, I have no doubt that Fox News Channel and its hosts would be up in arms over their actions and calling them out for potentially putting the life of an American soldier in danger. Doesn’t the same criticism apply to Fox?

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric says:

    Wasn’t it just a week ago, former navy seal personnel were criticizing Obama and his administration for leaking information about the raid and Seal Team Six?

  2. @Eric:

    Why yes, yes it was.

  3. Wild assed speculation:

    Given the current administration’s disdain of OPSEC, perhaps the SEAL veteran did obtain clearance and the name leak came from inside the DEVGRU -> NAVSPECWAR -> CNO -> DOD -> White House chain of command somewhere.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    It’s a close call but, I suppose that I have no problem in bringing up Fox News on treason charges.

  5. TastyBits says:


    If it had been CNN or MSNBC that had done this, I have no doubt that Fox News Channel and its hosts would be up in arms over their actions and calling them out for potentially putting the life of an American soldier in danger. Doesn’t the same criticism apply to Fox?

    Wow. Is there any chance you would provide something to back this up?

    Could you also tell me if Windows 8 will be a flop?

  6. John Peabody says:

    Does it apply? Yes…yes, it does. Or should.

  7. Al says:

    @TastyBits:

    Watch Fox News on any given day for for more than fifteen seconds and given the retail price point probably not.

  8. TastyBits says:

    @Al

    Which 15 seconds should I watch?

  9. legion says:

    Um, how exactly is a 36-year-old a “recently retired Navy SEAL”? Even SEALs have to stay in for 20 to retire, so this guy either enlisted at 16 (can happen during drafts, but it seems unlikely in1992) or he was medically discharged (far more possible, but the reporter would be far more likely to refer to him as a “wounded vet” rather than “recently retired”, don’t you think?).

  10. Michael says:

    @TastyBits:

    Could you also tell me if Windows 8 will be a flop?

    Yes, yes it will. Happy now?

  11. bk says:

    My guess is the book is obviously favorable to Obama. Had it been otherwise, there is NO WAY that Fox would have revealed the name.

  12. legion says:

    @Allan Bourdius: Equally wild-assed speculation: This guy was discharged under “other than honorable” circumstances and Fox is calling him a “retiree” in an attempt to polish a turd before it starts to smell.

  13. Septimius says:

    It was Richard Armitage who leaked the name. We better appoint a special prosecutor and get David Axelrod in front of a grand jury pronto!

  14. An Interested Party says:

    The answer to all of this is rather obvious…IOKIYAR…

  15. rudderpedals says:

    Wasn’t Owen supposed to submit it for vetting tussles like the ex-spooks do with their stuff? I’m thinking the blown cover is payback.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @legion: Most people use “retired” incorrectly to refer to formers such as myself. Although it’s quite possible that a 36-year-old SEAL chief would be medically retired short of 20 years of service.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am shocked, SHOCKED!!! that Fox news would expose national security secrets in order to have a scoop….

    SHOCKED I tell you…

  18. Septimius says:

    Anyone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the identities of Navy SEALs is classified information. Sure, it makes sense to keep a low profile, but was this guy writing under a pseudonym because he feared reprisals from jihadists or because he didn’t want to be prosecuted for releasing classified information on the bin Laden raid?

  19. Mr. Replica says:

    “Once you write a book, anonymously or not, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    -John Moody, Executive Vice President & Executive Editor FOX News

    FoxNews’ response.

  20. legion says:

    @James Joyner: That’s what I figure too. I just find something… odd about their choice of words.

  21. bill says:

    eh, there’s no jihadist problem in America, move on.

  22. Richard Gardner says:

    My background is 10 years ago, but anyone with a clearance such as what a Seal Team Member would have (specifically this Special Warfare Development Group) would have signed a statement (contract) stating that any publication they made related to their government work would have to be vetted first. Before ~1980 is was any publication at all (to include letters to the editor) but that got squashed under 1st Amendment regarding wine notes by a CIA analyst at Langley (whose CIA work had nothing to do with wine). So, the guy can write about birds, but if they are birds he saw in Afghanistan or Iraq, it has to be reviewed.

    And when the guy was “debriefed” to end his clearance, he had to sign the agreement again.

    Regardless of the retirement status discussed above, in the Navy (different from Army) he can be recalled to Active Duty until the 30 year point (if retired), and go to Courts Martial. I think the military equivalent of a Grand Jury is called for here. This isn’t an Article 15 issue (NJP).

    Sorry if I’ve made minor errors above, been years since I went to Navy Senior Officer Legal Course out of Newport (or similar name).

  23. And now that his real name is seemingly out there, critics are concerned that Fox has opened “Owen” up to potential violent reprisals from jihadists seeking to avenge bin Laden

    Given the book he just released, it’s rather hypocritical for “Owen” to complain about people carelessly releasing sensitive information.

  24. acwood946 says:

    I puke on FoxNews. I hope they go belly up and lose every loyal viewer they had over this. I am so disgusted with this network now, that it will be a cold day in hell before I watch FoxNews or click on its online site. You can take that to the bank, because I am the world’s most serious boycotter. What this station did is indefensible, inexcusable and unforgivable. I would support MSNBC before I will ever support this channel again. I puke on you, FoxNews. And your scumbag reporter from HELL, Justin Fishel.

  25. FOX News has been spreading misinformation since its inception for political gains. Here is my take on FOX–a music video –

    Turn Off FOX TV — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB0UhGnunAo

    Enjoy