He wants you to know that’s a mistake he did not repeat with his new book, No Hero.
“Yeah, it was my bad,” a contrite Bissonnette said multiple times in multiple ways in an interview with The Daily Beast of his failure to submit No Easy Day to be checked for classified information because of what he called “bad legal advice.” With a criminal investigation ongoing, he could still face prosecution for it.
“Do I have regret? Yes, but I gotta look at this as a lesson,” he said. “In our community, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes.”
And that’s why he said he wrote the new book, to share hard lessons learned on the battlefield, this time with the Pentagon’s permission—and to prove that he would have done it this way the first time, had he known better.
That’s still not likely to win back many of his former comrades in arms, like his former SEAL Team 6 commanding officer, whom Bissonnette was told kept a mock tombstone in his headquarters office with the shunned SEAL author’s name on it.
“They don’t call it SEAL Team 6-Year-Old for nothing,” Bissonnette said bitterly of the rejection by a man who up until then had given him top performance reviews and tried to persuade him not to leave the Navy after the Bin Laden raid in 2011.
Bissonnette believes it was some of his own former teammates who revealed his real name to Fox News, which first reported it after the release of No Easy Day. (Other reporters, including this one, named him after that.)
He said he still wishes the media would stick to his author pseudonym Mark Owen, as he has gotten death threats online and tries to keep his real face off-camera.
But he said he now understands the Pandora’s box he opened that made him a public figure when he penned an unauthorized account of the raid, together with his co-author, Kevin Maurer.
U.S. officials are still considering prosecuting him under criminal charges for allegedly purposefully avoiding a security review and revealing classified information.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrickfrost would only say that an investigation into No Easy Day is still ongoing. “It would be inappropriate to get into any specifics—about the timing or other aspects of the investigation—at this stage,” she wrote in an email Friday. “This includes who is leading the investigation or what type of investigation is ongoing.”
Bissonnette’s current lawyer, high-profile Washington attorney Robert Luskin of Patton Boggs LLP, said the SEAL author was given bad legal counsel the first time around by someone “who he thought was expert in this area of classification and prepublication review.”
Luskin said the former SEAL proved his good faith by volunteering to stop promoting No Easy Day after the initial 60 Minutes interview—like the second one Sunday to promote No Hero—and by setting aside the book royalties pending resolution of the legal case.
Luskin had already reached a settlement with the Pentagon on potential civil claims, now “temporarily on hold” while Bissonnette cooperates with a criminal investigation.
“We realized failure to submit the book for review raised legitimate questions about his conduct. ... And we’re doing everything we can to answer their questions,” Luskin said.
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