There's more than one way to profit from your experience in the military. For Matt Bisonnette, the former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who wrote a book about killing Osama bin Laden, that includes offering consulting services to a big name video game maker.
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The Los Angeles Times' Alex Pham reports that Bissonnette is a consultant for Electronic Arts' upcoming Special Forces video game Medal of Honor: Warfighter. For video game sequences based in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the game's Los Angeles developers are putting a premium on authenticity, according to Pham, and are working closely with Bissonnette's consulting firm Silent R. "The team consulted with several special forces soldiers to make sure the settings, weapons and other aspects of the fighting within the game was realistic," reports Pham. "One of those consultants was Bissonnette."
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The news of Bissonnette's latest business endeavor comes as he receives a wave of criticism from current and former service members in the Special Ops community for writing No Easy Day, set for release September 11. "When you leave the compound, you leave the secrets there," said Don Mann, a former member of SEAL Team 6 speaking with the Daily Beast's Eli Lake. “As soon as bin Laden was killed, it was known I was a member. I got three lucrative offers. I told them, ‘What I know you would want to know, I am not going to let you know.'"
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Roger Castens, a former Army Special Forces officer, expressed similar displeasure with the book's release. “I am on a few list-servs,” he told Lake. “This topic has been a heavy and heated discussion with almost everyone asking WTF?”
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It should be said in Bissonnette's defense, his publisher Dutton says, "the majority" of proceeds from the book will go to "unnamed charities that support families of Navy SEALs killed in the line of duty." In addition, there's also the public interest argument that the story deserves to be told from a first person account, given the number of revisions there's been to the official White House account. As Bissonnette writes in the book, "it is time to set the record straight about one of the most important missions in U.S. military history."
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Others, however, are more skeptical about the book's likelihood to shed new light on the raid, like Politico's defense reporter Austin Wright:
Sorry, but this whole thing is just too much: The publisher leaks word of this book with less than a month to go before publication -- sparking headlines because DOD and the White House haven’t “vetted” it. The author tries to keep anonymous but doesn’t -- which revives the whole OPSEC arglebargle, and we’re all wondering how it’ll affect the presidential race. It’s brilliant marketing -- so good that publisher Dutton would have been incredibly foolish not to have already given this book a super legal-scrub for anything potentially “secret.” Why imperil this investment in buzz by taking the risk DOD could interfere with publication? This raises the question of how much juicy stuff it’ll actually contain. Our guess: Not much.
Another point worth making is that Bissonnette would also be immensely foolish to reveal classified details given the potential for Justice Department prosecution. Some might speculate that he was banking on hiding behind his anonymity when he wrote the book, a plan that was unexpectedly torpedoed when Fox News outed him yesterday. But that doesn't really add up, given the number of details he discloses about himself in the book, as The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald notes:
According to the NYT account, he provides ample biographical information that should make the process of identifying him extremely easy, including discussions of "his childhood in Alaska", the fact that he "has completed 13 combat deployments since" the 9/11 attack, and that he "retired within the past year". The book also includes accounts of "his other previously unreported Seal missions".
All that said, it is in the publisher's interest to reveal as much juicy details as possible to ensure big sales. Will it make a big splash? Since the White House, CIA, and the Pentagon say the book wasn't vetted by them, the only people that know the answer are Dutton employees and Bissonnette.
Below, a trailer for Medal of Honor: Warfighter: