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Commander issues memo directing SEALs to keep quiet

The head of all Naval Special Warfare personnel has a message for SEALs who feel the urge to seek publicity for or financial gain from their combat experiences.


The memo, sent to the Naval Special Warfare community and obtained by the Tribune, was issued Oct. 31 after two situations created a firestorm of controversy in the community of warriors who call themselves the “quiet professionals.”

Last Wednesday, Fox News Channel announced that the ex-SEAL claiming to have killed Osama Bin Laden is coming forward to reveal his name and talk about the raid. A few days later, CBS announced that the lawyer for a SEAL who wrote a book about the May 1, 2011 mission said his client was being prosecuted as a result of the book. That SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, is scheduled to appear on the CBS news show “60 Minutes” at 7:30 p.m. today to talk about how he has been ostracized from the SEAL community.

The memo, signed by Rear Adm. Brian Losey, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, and its Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci, does not mention either situation specifically or include any reference to bin Laden. But the leaders reminded the community that any success is the end result of years of hard work by a large and diverse group of people and that those who claim individual credit are violating the SEAL ethos.

“At Naval Special Warfare’s core is the SEAL ethos,” wrote Losey and Magaraci. “A critical tenant of our ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.’”

A lifelong commitment in and out of uniform, those who violate that ethos “are neither Teammates in good standing, nor Teammates who represent Special Warfare.”

The community “does not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety or financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honorable service, courage and sacrifice” wrote the two leaders of the command also known as Warcom. “Our credibility as a premier fighting force is forged in this sacrifice and is accomplished with honor, as well as humility. The most important credit we can garner is the respect of our Teammates and Partners.”

Losey and Magaraci close their memo by reminding the community that all members have a duty to protect classified information “regardless of what may be reflected in the media, accurately or otherwise. We will actively seek judicial consequences for members who willfully violate the law and place our Teammates, our Families and our potential future operations at risk.”

In a media release issued last week, CBS said that eight weeks ago, Bissonnette “was questioned for 10 hours by government investigators about the book and the ‘60 Minutes’ interview as part of a newly-opened criminal investigation.” Using the “Mark Owen” pseudonym of the SEAL who co-wrote the book with reporter Kevin Maurer, CBS said “Owen has been shunned by the SEAL command and some former colleagues and also has a mountain of legal bills. Nothing in his SEAL training prepared him for this. ‘I would go back overseas today and deal with fighting ISIS face to face rather than deal with the last two years again.’”

On Nov. 11 and 12, Fox News Channel will air “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden,” a two-part documentary featuring “an exclusive interview with the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed terrorist leader Usama Bin Laden,” according to a Fox media release, using an alternate spelling for the jihadi’s name. The retired SEAL, “who will reveal his identity and speak out publicly for the first time, describes the events leading up to and during the historical raid that took place on May 1st, 2011.”

In an interview with CBS, the ex-SEAL’s lawyer, Bob Luskin, said “the government seems to be making an example out of Owen, while ignoring other people who have divulged information to a magazine, the author of the book, ‘The Finnish,’ and to Hollywood about the raid. There’s clearly something outlandish about a process in which … people are free to leak classified information to the person who wrote the New Yorker article, Mark Bowden, to the folks who produced “Zero Dark Thirty. The only person held accountable is the person who risked his life.”

Maurer declined comment and the agent for Bissonnette did not return an email seeking comment.

In an email to the Tribune, Commander Jason Salata, spokesman for Warcom, said “The letter speaks for itself as a prudent reinforcement of the SEAL Ethos.”

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