(NEW YORK) — A group of former special operations servicemen claims that the ex-Navy SEAL who penned his firsthand account of the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did so in part because he thought the Navy had mistreated him shortly before his departure from the teams — an allegation the book’s co-author denies.
The first-person account of the raid, called No Easy Day and written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, arrives on bookshelves on Tuesday — a full week before its original intended release on the anniversary of Sept. 11. The book’s publisher, Dutton, claimed that the date was moved up both due to high demand in light of several high-profile news stories about the book and to quell controversy over whether the book revealed any classified information. From the White House to the Pentagon and the CIA, no government officials had been given a chance to read the book for possible security breaches before its publication.
Owen was a decorated and long-serving SEAL who left the Navy in April, according to military records provided by the service. A spokesperson for Dutton previously told ABC News that Owen left simply “because it was time.”
But a new e-book written by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb with co-authors who had been members of the special operations community in other branches claims that Owen left the Navy on bad terms after he felt he was mistreated by the service. Webb, founder of the special operations website SOFREP.com, told ABC News that he and his co-authors spoke to several active members of the special operations community for the e-book.
“Sources… say that [Owen] was treated very poorly upon his departure…” says the e-book, called No Easy Op and released Monday on Amazon.com. The e-book claims Owen was asked to leave his SEAL Team Six group after he “openly shared with his teammates that he was considering getting out of the Navy to pursue other interests.”
“How was he repaid for his honesty and fourteen years of service? He was ostracized from his unit with no notice and handed a plane ticket back to Virginia from a training operation,” the e-book says. After his departure, the book says there was some “bad blood’ between Owen and his former team that may have helped him decide to pen the book.
Dutton declined to comment on the claims, except to point to remarks made by the book’s co-author, journalist Kevin Maurer, to the New York Times.
“After spending several very intense months working with Mark Owen on this book, I know that he wrote this book solely to share a story about the incredible men and women defending America all over the world,” Maurer said. “Any suggestion otherwise is as ill-informed as it is inaccurate.”
The Navy directed questions concerning the “bad blood” allegations to the Department of Defense. There, a spokesperson said the way in which Owen left the service is “irrelevant” to them.
“The Department is not interested in characterizing his departure,” Lt. Col. Todd Brasseale said. “We remain greatly appreciative of [Owen’s] efforts while he was a SEAL, but he has been and remains in breach of his non-disclosure agreement… His demeanor when he left the service is irrelevant.”
Over the weekend, Pentagon officials sent a letter to Owen in which they warned they were considering legal action against him for unauthorized disclosures in the book. An attorney for Owen, Robert Luskin, responded to the letter, saying his client had not violated any non-disclosure agreement.
Owen’s book No Easy Day provides a detailed first-person account of the bin Laden raid and at times contradicts the “official” version.
Owen said he was just behind the team’s “point man” who unknowingly was the first to shoot the terror leader.
“We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. BOP. BOP,” Owen writes. “I couldn’t tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the room.”
It wasn’t until several SEAL Team Six members entered the room that Owen learned some of the first shots hit their mark and that bin Laden was the man bleeding and twitching on the ground with an apparent shot to the head. Still, Owen and another SEAL pointed their laser sights at his chest and “fired several rounds.”
“The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless,” Owen writes.
Unlike the White House characterization that bin Laden had “resisted” before he was killed, Owen’s account describes a scene in which the terror leader never appeared to have the chance.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
AJ Willingham, CNN
Sara Weber, CNN
Darran Simon and Chandrika Narayan, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN