“No Easy Day” author deserves respect, honor for military service

Dan Almasi, Associates Sports Editor

When the man known publicly as Mark Owen decided to write No Easy Day, a book about his experiences as a member of Seal Team Six, he simply aimed to depict the mission that ultimately led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden in a more realistic perspective. He did not write it for personal profit, but instead decided that all profits would benefit charities that help retired Navy Seals. Instead, Owen was ostracized from the tight-knit group of Seals that he considered his family and became the subject of criminal investigation by the government for allegedly violating the espionage act.

Owen, a retired Navy Seal, served his country in 13 consecutive deployments and was part of the Navy Seal teams that retrieved Captain Richard Phillips, the man that was held hostage by Somali pirates in 2009, and of course, Seal Team Six, the unit responsible for assassinating bin Laden in 2011.

No Easy Day is Owen’s depiction of the mission that entailed the infiltration of bin Laden’s housing complex and led to his execution. Owen was the second Seal to “engage,” or shoot, bin Laden.

Owen’s former lawyer ensured him that he had the right to write the book and did not need to worry about publishing it. That proved to be very bad advice, as the government later prosecuted him for not submitting it for review. Owen claims he was unaware of such procedures.

Owen did not release the actual names of any of his Seal counterparts and did not release any information that he felt should not be public record. The other members of Seal Team Six and the government disagreed.

Owens has been consistently probed and questioned by the government and has been unforgiven and alienated by his former Navy Seal family.

When Owen chose to reach out to his former commander via text in an attempt to apologize, he received the response: “delete me.”

Following the lead of those ranked above you is the way of life in any military organization. I feel that in this case, that tradition is unfortunate, as I don’t believe that every single member of Seal Team Six truly feels the same about Owens.

I have not read No Easy Day, but I feel the backlash in the wake of the publication of Owen’s book is entirely unjust. I don’t see a scenario where information that Owen divulged could be detrimental to the security of the United States of America or his fellow Seals. I support the idea of first-hand accounts of something like this, something that we typically only learn of through the filter of the media. A first-hand account of something like this is exactly what Americans need, as opposed to the sensationalized version we receive from the media in the news.

If I were more interested in the details of the actual mission, I would definitely read the book. But what I’m interested in is the protection of Owen’s rights.

Owen’s lawyer, Bob Luksin, defends him by mentioning the fact that others who released supposed classified information, such as the man who wrote an article about the mission in The New Yorker who spoke to unnamed sources within Seal Team Six and even the producers of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” were not prosecuted. Luksin notes that Owen is being prosecuted for releasing information that is also accurately depicted in the film.

Owen is the only one who has written a first-hand account of the mission, but is not the only one who has released supposed classified information. It seems as though that’s the only difference, and unfairly, the only reason why Owen is being looked at as a traitor.

Owen has served and protected his country for a long time, and has had to deal with his fair share of stress and adversity. Instead of enjoying his retirement and finally finding peace in his life, Owen has had to deal with unjust backlash and the tarnishing of his name and has lost countless friendships because he chose to create a piece of historically accurate literature that should be appreciated and respected by all.

In an interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley, Owen said, “I would go back overseas today and deal with fighting ISIS face-to-face rather than deal with the last two years again.”

Owens is of course referring to the ordeal he has dealt with that is the aftermath of the publishing of his book.

I sincerely hope that Owen is not further prosecuted for publishing No Easy Day. He deserves respect and solace. He does not deserve to be treated like a criminal for being a hero and an author.