SEAL Team 6 Member Who Said He Shot Osama Bin Laden Forced To Pay Back $6.8 Million From Book Deal
Remember the saga of Matt Bissonnette, the ex-Navy SEAL who wrote the book No Easy Day under the pen name Mark Owen about the Osama Bin Laden raid? In the book, Bissonnette said he fired one of the fatal shots that killed Bin Laden in his compound, along with other SEAL members. Despite an oath to not disclose those details, he collected $6.8 million from that book and it was published without any official review from the Pentagon. This prompted a federal criminal investigation whether he disclosed any classified materials or used his position on active duty for personal profit.
This winter, the investigation discovered that he was working as a consultant while on SEAL Team 6. He also had a photo of Osama Bin Laden’s corpse on his computer hard drive, which I assume falls under the a level of super duper top secret double-0 agent classified that I can’t even comprehend. via The Intercept earlier this year:
During their search of his hard drive, investigators subsequently found emails and records dealing with Bissonnette’s work as a consultant while he was on active duty at SEAL Team 6. Those records, which were not part of the non-prosecution agreement, led to the widening probe. Federal investigators then became interested in whether Bissonnette’s business ventures with companies that supply military equipment — including companies whose products were used by SEAL Team 6 — were helped by his role in the elite unit’s procurement process, according to one of the people familiar with the case.
The two people familiar with the probe said the current investigation, led by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, expanded after Bissonnette agreed to hand over a hard drive containing an unauthorized photo of the al Qaeda leader’s corpse. The government has fought to keep pictures of bin Laden’s body from being made public for what it claims are national security reasons.
According to the New York Times, today a federal judge ruled that Bissonnette needs to cough up the money he made from the book as part of a settlement deal so he doesn’t have to undergo criminal charges. Via The New York Times:
Matt Bissonnette, a former member of Navy SEAL Team 6 who wrote an account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, agreed on Friday to forfeit $6.8 million in book royalties and speaking fees and apologized for failing to clear his disclosures with the Pentagon, according to federal court documents.
Mr. Bissonnette also recently forfeited $180,000 in fees for consulting work that he did for military contractors while he was still on the SEAL team, his lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, said in an interview.
The Justice Department conducted criminal investigations into whether Mr. Bissonnette had disclosed classified information in his book or speeches and whether he had violated conflict-of-interest laws in consulting for companies that had contracts with SEAL Team 6. In the end, the department did not bring any criminal charges, settling instead for the cash forfeitures.
Mr. Bissonnette said in a statement Friday that he regretted his failure to submit “No Easy Day” for vetting before it was published in 2012 so Pentagon officials could ensure that it did not include classified information. Mr. Bissonnette acknowledged that he was required under his security clearances to let the Pentagon review the book, and he blamed another lawyer for advising him that he did not need to do so.
When you’re a trigger man for the United States of America who brings the #1 terrorist in the world to justice, you probably should get a second opinion on your legal counsel. ESPECIALLY if you’re looking for a ginormous payday while your fellow SEAL brothers know to keep their lips sealed.