An upcoming FOX News documentary with the ex-SEAL who claims to have shot and killed Osama bin Laden has prompted the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command to write an open letter with a bit of advice for any SEAL looking to capitalize on their covert work: Don’t do it.
“At Naval Special Warfare’s core is the SEAL ethos,” reads the letter from Rear Adm. Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci obtained by the website SOFREP.com. “A critical tenant of our ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.’ Our ethos is a life-long commitment and obligation, both in and out of the service. Violators of our ethos are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare.”
Peter Doocy, a Washington-based correspondent for FOX News, tells PEOPLE that the ex-SEAL who says he shot bin Laden – and will be the focus of the network’s two-part documentary airing Tuesday and Wednesday (10 p.m. ET) – is Rob O’Neill, a highly decorated combat veteran. “Rob is the best of the best in terms of the kind of guy we want serving this country,” says Doocy. “He hasn’t spoken about the mission on camera … and this sets the record straight about everything.”
O’Neill, however, isn’t the only former SEAL to have found himself enmeshed in controversy in recent days. Ex-SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day about his role in the bin Laden raid, under the pseudonym Mark Owen, is in hot water for failing to clear his book with the Pentagon before it was published in 2012. U.S. officials are reportedly considering prosecuting Bissonnette.
The Oct. 31 letter from Losey and Magaraci states that the authorities will take legal action toward any soldier who discloses classified information. “We will not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honorable service, courage and sacrifice,” the letter says. “Our credibility as a premier fighting force is forged in this sacrifice and has been accomplished with honor, as well as humility.”
The two men also point out that operations such as the one that led to bin Laden’s death are the result of years of planning and work, involving countless “quiet professionals” – and it’s erroneous for one or two individuals to claim credit for a mission’s success.
“Any real credit to be rendered is about the incredible focus, commitment, and teamwork of this diverse network and the years of hard work undertaken with little individual credit,” the letter says. “It is the nature of our profession.”