The US Navy commando who wrote an account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden under a pseudonym was identified on Thursday as Matt Bissonnette, who retired from the navy last summer.
Bissonnette was first identified by Fox News. One current and one former US military official confirmed the name, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss military personnel matters.
The book, No Easy Day, is set for release on Sept. 11, with the author listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen. Dutton, the specialist publisher, asked news organizations to withhold his identity.
“Sharing the true story of his personal experience in No Easy Day is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security,” Dutton spokeswoman Christine Ball said in a statement. “That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym.”
Bissonnette also changed the names of the other SEALs in the account, the publisher says. Navy commandos are known as SEALs.
Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye said the retired SEAL could be endangered by being identified, which could also expose those active-duty SEALs the author worked with in the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, last year.
The book and the author’s name also come out amid debate over the possible damage to US national security by leaks in the media about top secret operations. Yet the book comes at a time when special operations forces are often prominently featured in the media, even as the organizations demand secrecy.
Efforts to locate Bissonnette for comment were unsuccessful.
The author of No Easy Day is slated to appear in shadow in promotional interviews for the book, meant to conceal his identity. The book is already listed as one of the top 10 books on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Beyond the risk he faces now that his identity is known, he could also face legal trouble if the Pentagon determines he disclosed classified information in the account.