Fox News is likely to take some heat for publicizing the name of the Navy SEAL Team 6 member and anonymous author of the upcoming tell-all No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden.
Thursday morning, the network published an article by Justin Fishel that, citing “multiple sources,” identifies the author (who goes by pseudonym “Mark Owen“) to be a 36-year-old recently retired Navy SEAL from Alaska who was “one of the first men through the door” of Osama bin Laden‘s Pakistan compound the night of that fateful raid.
Not only did Fox News’ website name the SEAL, but the network also broadcast his full name Thursday morning during a report by Jennifer Griffin.
“Owen” has already received hefty criticism from current and former SEALs for writing the book. “How do we tell our guys to stay quiet when this guy won’t?” one told Fox; others called him a “traitor.”
And now that his real name is seemingly out there, critics are concerned that Fox has opened “Owen” up to potential violent reprisals from jihadists seeking to avenge bin Laden; and the outing opens the SEAL up to legal troubles with the Justice Department for exposing classified information.
Fishel’s publishing of the SEAL’s name is especially interesting given that last year, he reported that SEAL Team 6’s members wanted to protect their identities out of concern for their safety. “There has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identity of those that participated in the raid and I think that that has to continue,” Fishel quoted then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In that same article last year, Fishel also condemned the Obama administration for leaking key information about the raid to the press: “Rather than keeping the details secret, intelligence officials and senior administration officials briefed members of the press. It quickly leaked out that the mission was performed by 24 members of the elite and classified counterterrorism SEAL squadron, known as SEAL team 6.”
No word yet on whether the government will take legal action, as Department of Defense, CIA and White House officials have all said they have not vetted the book yet and and that they first heard of its publication from media reports.
UPDATE: Fox News responded with the statement below:
“Once you write a book, anonymously or not, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.”
-John Moody, Executive Vice President & Executive Editor FOX News
[photo via Getty]
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