DOD Should Not Ban Book on Bin Laden Raid
The Department of Defense is only increasing the opportunity for success of the upcoming book by "Mark Owen" about the mission to locate and terminate Osama Bin Laden that contravenes the official account.
In an effort to ban publication, the DOD has written the author (real name Matt Bissonnette) to inform him of their intent to prosecute for violating his oath to the United States if the book is published. Past experience demonstrates that the DOD should stay mum on banning the book. The effort will only enhance Bissonnette's credibility and guarantee healthy book sales.
If he is right, then he is right -- yet by violating his oath, he can be prosecuted anyway. But by attempting to stop publication, the DOD swims into heavy seas swirling with unintended consequences.
In 1985, the Brits made the error of banning the publication of the book Spycatcher, by Peter Wright (science officer at MI5, their Security Service) and co-author Paul Greengrass, which claimed that Roger Hollis, the former director-general of MI5, was the Fifth Man in the highly damaging Cambridge spy ring.
The "Five," brilliant middle- and upper-class students who believed in the future of communism after the supposed failure of capitalism during the Great Depression, were recruited by the Soviets to dedicate their careers to the infiltration of the Foreign Office, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and MI5. (The book, TV series, and recent film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by former British intelligence service officer John Le Carré is a fictional parallel to the Cambridge Ring story.)
The Cambridge "moles" worked their way up as directed. Kim Philby, the most dashing recruit, rose in MI6 through World War II and became the chief British contact with the CIA as the Cold War heated up. Philby was able to cultivate a close personal friendship with the CIA's chief of counterintelligence, James Angleton. The suave double-agent purloined atomic secrets and strategy and so sowed paranoia in Angleton's mind of a Soviet mole in the CIA that Angleton tore the Agency inside-out until he was forced to retire in 1975.
Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess gained important postings abroad as Foreign Office diplomats. Both were assigned to Washington just before their defection to the USSR in 1951. They were warned that MI5 was on their tail by fellow mole Anthony Blunt, a respected art historian who enjoyed access to the highest echelons of the Security Service.
The British could not avoid the public scandal created by MacLean's and Burgess's dramatic defection, but they kept the pursuit of the three remaining moles quiet to avoid further embarrassment. Philby, however, after hearing that MI5 was closing in, defected to Moscow in 1963 amid a barrage of media coverage. In 1977, Anthony Blunt admitted under pressure that he was the Fourth Man in the Cambridge Ring, leaving one more to uncover.
The hunt for the Fifth Man became the cause célèbre of the late '70s and early 1980s, reaching apogee when Spycatcher was banned in England (but not Scotland). The action to prevent publication created a crescendo of publicity. When Wright was able to find an Australian house to publish the book, it was an overnight bestseller around the world, largely due to the effort to prohibit its release.
But there was a problem looming on the horizon. In 1990, Christopher Andrew, the Cambridge historian, released KGB: The Inside Story with former KGB Colonel Oleg Gordeivsky, who worked as a double-agent for the British. The authors documented from KGB archives that the Fifth Man was not Roger Hollis after all, but John Cairncross, who was living quietly in the South of France, assuming his secret was safe.
Yet the misinformation in Spycatcher remains the "truth" to millions of readers and conspiracy theorists due to the popularity of the book caused primarily by the prohibition to publish. DOD risks the same result by attempting to ban the book by "Mark Owen" on the Bin Laden raid. The act of censorship will catapult the book into permanent history -- a bad thing if he is wrong. If he is right, the effort to ban will only increase book sales and his personal wealth.
Let him publish, but bring him to justice.
A similar mistake is unfolding simultaneously in London, where British Foreign Office officials are making fools of themselves attempting to use threats to force WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of Ecuador's embassy building.
Christopher Meyer, former ambassador to the U.S. from U.K., is particularly vocal and righteous, claiming that Assange is a dangerous and seditious agent for publishing "secret" U.S. State Department documents. And there is outrage in hyper-politically correct Cool Britannia (witness the Olympic opening ceremonies) that Assange has been charged with rape and sexual assault in even more politically correct Sweden. The Swedes have been trying to extradite him from the U.K. since 2010.
The real wrongdoer in the leaked documents case is Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stole the cache, not Assange for publishing them. The New York Times wears its publication of the secret Pentagon Papers around its neck like the Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet the excitable boys in the U.S. and U.K. diplomatic corps would rather shoot Assange the messenger than deal with reality. (It is ironic that the leaks from the U.S. State Department were actually beneficial. They proved that our diplomats were actually on top of the issues and savvy in their appraisals of foreign diplomats and leaders.)
As for the Swedes and their vendetta to extradite Assange, the other side of the case tells a different story and provides insight into why Assange is fighting fearlessly to avoid a trip to Sweden. In this scenario, the WikiLeaks chief was the victim of a cabal between the two women who shared his bed. One became jealous and convinced the other to join her in persuading an activist prosecutor to throw the book at Assange. The problem is that the "book" of new laws Swedish feminists have forced into practice are heavily slanted against the rights of men to defend themselves against inflammatory indictments by politically angry women.
So far Assange is holding on and building his following as the British government makes a fool of itself -- again. The DOD would be well-advised not to make the same mistakes the British insist on repeating.