If there is one thing that you learn when you pour through the historical activities of the United States military and the intelligence apparatus, it is this that the Pentagon is extremely creative when it comes to formulating and molding public perceptions.
You don’t have to be a big fan of Tom Clancy (although I am), to understand just how manipulative the PR apparatus of the U.S. military and industrial really is. Clancy often describes how the media is manipulated into distributing the message that U.S. intelligence operators want them to distribute.
Some examples of this include the Pentagon’s consideration to launch black propaganda operations on foreign media through the Office of Strategic Influence. (1)
Another example was the 1968 “Black Panther Coloring Book” produced by the FBI to discredit the Black Panther Party (2), or the “Penkovsky Papers” created by the CIA but portrayed to the public as being written by Western defector Oleg Penkovsky.
Many observers believe that the CIA’s efforts to create and publish The Penkovsky Papers was not so much an effort to manipulate the public opinion of Russians, but actually to manipulate American sentiment.
Victor Marchetti of the Institute for Historical Review explains:
“Spies do not keep diaries, of course, and the Soviets were not likely to believe the exaggerated claims made for Penkovsky and the CIA in The Penkovsky Papers. Who was taken in? The American public, of course.”
Placed within that historical perspective, the suggestion that the Matt Bissonnette story No Easy Day might actually be nothing more than Pentagon propaganda, is not actually very far fetched.
The Sequence of Events
The entire sequence of events leading up to the publication of the book No Easy Day, allegedly written by Matt Bissonnette under the pseudonym Mark Owen, is like a well rehearsed play.
The book hit the shelves on September 4th – you can pick up your copy today and read all about the dramatic operation that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
However, leading up to the release of the book, there was a bit of media buzz surrounding the fact that the author may be facing a lawsuit from the Pentagon.
The Associated Press reported in August that Pentagon lawyers were considering taking legal action against the author because he “violated agreements to not divulge military secrets.” (3)
What better way to spark the interest of folks that are intent upon learning what sort of “military secrets” Mr. Bissonnette might have spilled?
Drama and Intrigue, Oh My
Like a well-oiled machine, the propaganda started out earlier in August with a huge, “stunning” announcement from Fox News, that the news organization had uncovered the real name of the author.
Fox News announced that they had received Mark Owen’s true identity – Matt Bissonnette – from “multiple sources.” Anonymous sources, of course. (4)
Then, of course, on the day the book is released, an anonymous “group of Special Ops veterans” publishes an e-book titled “No Easy Op: The Unclassified Analysis of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden”. (5)
It is an organized released of information – well timed and well-orchestrated – that couldn’t have been better planned. In fact, I could just imaging a bunch of military intelligence suits sitting around a conference table, carefully plotting out the timeline of information releases on a Microsoft Project spreadsheet, projected onto the conference room wall screen.
Everyone nodding – yes, that will certainly do. They’ll believe that story, won’t they.
And with the controversy created by the legal threats and the drama created by Fox News – the story would be sure to capture the interest of not only Americans, but hopefully media outlets all around the world – particularly in the Middle East.
Likely Nothing More Than Fiction
The first small glimmer that there is something wrong comes from the fact that there were already contradictions between what the public was told immediately after the raid, and what the book is now portraying.
The Washington Times reported:
“A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.” (6)
Beyond that, the contradictions raise questions as to which account is actually true. While there are many that would like to believe the Obama Administration lied, such contradictions are usually related to attempts to rewrite history to suit a specific agenda.
Only one day after the attack on the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan, I wrote a fictional account of what I believed took place inside of the compound. That account was drawn from statements from administration officials, news media and other public sources, and in all honesty, Matt’s account – which you can read over at Business Insider – feels just as fictional and contrived as my own account did.
That is not to say that Matt hasn’t told the truth. However, I would be willing to wager a bet that the Pentagon never does seek legal action, and Matt’s story will get spread around as an authentic account about how Bin Laden was assassinated by the SEALs.
However, in the end, this story really comes from the U.S. military, with the promotion and drama planned by its “public relations” machinery. Taking that into account, the book really needs to be taken with a grain of salt.