Sunday, September 30, 2012

No Easy Day - by Mark Owen

A few weeks ago, I happened to be listening to talk radio, and heard of the book, No Easy Day, by Mark Owen.  The talking heads on the radio spoke about the controversy it stirred up at the Pentagon.  Any book audacious enough to provide a firsthand account of Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, was sure to piss off some people in the government. 

When it was announced, President Obama gave a pretty decent speech about the heroic efforts of Seal Team 6 (which he did not identify at the time), as they raided bin Laden's compound and blew him away, delivering some good ole American justice to the bastard who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 and perpetuated a decade-long war by sending young impressionable men and boys to die while he hid himself like the coward he was.  Of course, there was a lot of speculation as to how the mission actually went down, and despite the official report from the White House regarding the incident, I was left wanting more information.  Of course, details of the mission were classified, and I can respect that.  We are, after all, still caught up in this war, and should respect the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line in defiance of terrorism.  One thing I took from the White House's official report was that bin Laden seemed to go down fighting, which is what I would have expected from the leader of a terrorist organization.  Other details were left out, however, and CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc took a lot of poetic license and speculated about the details of the mission ad nauseam.  I quickly tired of these so-called "accounts" of what really happened.

So, while still listening to the radio, I got on my phone, and hit up Amazon for my copy of the book, No Easy Day and waited patiently for it to arrive.  At the time, it seemed as though the Pentagon was going to file a lawsuit against Owen (btw, Mark Owen is the author's pen name. The military leaked his real name, but out of respect for Owen, I will not put his real name here).  The Pentagon claimed that he violated Opsec measures of having the book reviewed prior to publishing.  They claimed they did not want any classified information leaked out.  However, the author, and co-author of the book also claimed that they made sure the book was fully vetted to ensure not only accuracy of the events that really occurred, but to ensure that no classified information was leaked out.  Truth be told, more classified information was released by the White House Staff and Pentagon officials than was ever told in the book.  Owen states in his own words, "All of the material contained within this book is derived from unclassified publications and sources..."

In reading the book, I discovered more of a personal acczount of Owen's life as a Navy SEAL to be as compelling, if not more so, than the mission itself.  Owen describes the process of becoming a member of SEAL Team 6 and the life that these heroes lead in a fast paced way that doesn't let up one bit.  The pages practically turned themselves as I yearned to learn more.

The second half of the book is dedicated to the planning, training, and completion of the mission, as well as some of the things that happened afterwards.  Many of the details provide a fascinating story about, not only Owen, but the rest of the men who were part of the mission.  I could not help but be in awe over the consummate professionalism of these men as they spent their lives training, fighting, and building their experience to the point where they were selected to be part of the most important mission in recent memory.  My respect for the men and women of these elite groups grew tremendously. 

Now, of course, there have been some haters that have tried to refute the account of the story that Owen tells, but I have zero respect for armchair quarterbacks who speculate about details that somebody who was there had only seconds to digest while engaging in a mission who's success hinged on quick decisions made under less than ideal circumstances.  While reading some of the articles written by these keyboard commandos, I was struck at just how much information they got wrong.  Some douchebag tried using a trigonometry argument to refute Owen's claim that the blackhawk that crash landed in the compound didn't crash the way author wrote because the rotors are too long and would have struck the dirt.  He argued that a 15 foot wall would have landed the blackhawk at such an angle that would have destroyed the craft, and killed everyone inside.  Well, he's right about one thing: a fifteen foot wall would have been too high - except that Owen wrote that it was a 12 foot wall, which negates the trig argument completely.  It's crap like this that simple people buy into that gives good people bad reputations.  Arguments built on lies and inconsistencies don't hold water, and I saw right through that argument from the get-go. 

Of course, the government isn't happy about the book.  Owen's recollection of events differs somewhat than what the White House declared.  Bin Laden died as a coward.  That's all I'll say about it.  The SEALS put a bullet in his head and delivered the coup de grace as they followed bin Laden into his bedroom.  He was unarmed and unwilling to fight.  Bastard!  Justice was served, however, and I'm glad the SEALS killed him there instead of taking him alive.  Imagine the dog and pony show it would have been to prosecute and sentence bin Laden!  The Pentagon wants to talk about their dirty lies being revealed and the security issues it presents to America.  Well, imagine if they'd allowed that scum bag to live!

The fact that Obama hasn't taken this by the horns is a clear indication that he wants to stay as far away from it as possible.  Of course, politicians love to take all the credit for work that other men do, and giving the go-ahead for the mission was one good thing Obama did, but even I could have told them to get after it.  C'mon!  If the Obama administration starts bitching about this book, it will only drive more copies to be sold and more and more people will know the truth about what really happened. 

Despite the controversy, I think this story needs to be told.  The American people need a refreshing firsthand account of history in the making, and this happened in our time.  9/11 happened in my time, and seeing the deathblow delivered to the man who arranged the whole thing provides a bit of closure for me.  As for the book itself, buy it - read it!

-James

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