No Pre-Clearance Cost Navy Seal $6.8 Million


Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy Seal who was a key member of the team that killed Osama bin Laden, made one small mistake afterward when he wrote his book about the adventure. He neglected to get clearance (per a personal contract) with the Pentagon. The cost? $6.8 million in book royalties for his No Easy Day tome under the pen name Mark Owen, which included a firsthand account of the raid. Fortunately, for him, the Justice Department concluded it was wasn’t sufficient to bring criminal charges; it settled for cash forfeitures.

Bissonnette’s lawyer indicated that he and government attorneys also reached a non-prosecution agreement in May in which Bissonnette forfeited $180,000 in fees for advising three equipment manufacturers for conducting business with Seal 6 members while he was active on the team. Bissonnette revealed he did clear the consulting work in advance with a Navy lawyer. That helped persuade prosecutors that there was clearly, on his part, “no intent to breach the conflict of interest laws.”

Owning up to the costly poor judgment, Bissonnette said, “I acknowledge my mistake and have paid a stiff price both personally and professionally for that error.”

A meeting with Pentagon officials, or perhaps even a phone call, for a pre-publication look at the book and Bissonnette would be a wealthy hero. He surely remains a hero — just not a rich one.