When No Easy Day was first published two years ago, it was one of the first accounts depicting the mission that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. Now, its author, Matt Bissonnette, will pay $6.6 million to the government to settle a case alleging that he failed to clear the book with the Department of Defense.
The book was controversial before it hit bookstores
Bissonnette wrote the book under the name Mark Owen shortly after leaving the US Navy and generated considerable publicity. It sold out its initial print-run of 575,000 copies, and ended up on The New York Times best sellers list. The book was controversial before it hit bookstores: he and his publisher had failed to submit the book to the DoD prior to its release as required, which would screen the work for any classified details. The Pentagon opened up an investigation to determine whether or not the book’s author had leaked classified details and ultimately never brought criminal charges against him.
No Easy Day chronicles Bissonnette’s time in the service, and his actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as his involvement in the rescue of the crew of the Maersk Alabama in 2009 (which formed the basis of the 2013 Tom Hanks film Captain Philips), before describing Operation Neptune Spear, the raid that targeted the Al-Qaeda leader.
As part of the settlement, Bisonnette will forfeit all of his profits from the book
As part of the settlement, Bisonnette will forfeit all of his profits from the book, and will apologize for not complying with the disclosure procedures as required by the DoD. The Justice Department released a statement on Friday, noting that the action reinforced service members obligations "to protect classified information after leaving the U.S. military and government in an effort to protect our nation's national security."
Bissonnette released his own statement: "I acknowledge my mistake and have paid a stiff price, both personally and financially, for that error," he said. "I accept responsibility for failing to submit the book for review and apologize sincerely for my oversight."
In 2014, Bissonnette released a second book titled No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy Seal, which he did clear through the Pentagon.