CDR Salamander: A Book Review – Shipmate Style

What does a Froggy look like on the top rope? Kind of like this.

If you want to know what happens during classified SEAL operations, then nut up and join the fight yourself. You should be satisfied that you are being protected and served by exceptional men who are entitled to your respect if not your gratitude. You are not owed the inside scoop on how we do our business. Rest assured our activities receive oversight from your elected representatives, our chain of command, and most importantly the integrity of the vast majority of the operators. We are not gladiators in the arena to entertain you, and by supporting works like this you are helping to validate a very ugly aberration of our most closely held beliefs.

via CDR Salamander: A Book Review – Shipmate Style.

Here’s the thing. Should Mark Bissonette have submitted the book for review? Sure.

But Navy Special Warfare and the rest of the DoD can hardly be surprised that suddenly some folks want to write books. In fact, if you look at the genre on Amazon, you’ll find dozens of books written by members of the special warfare community. That’s to say nothing of the enormous emphasis the Navy places on the SEALs in its advertising, and its cooperation in making the (excellent) movie Act of Valor. And given the current administrations efforts to claim the fruits of the SEALs labors, it is hardly surprising that someone is pushing back.

Good idea? Maybe not. But please spare me the selective outrage.

7 thoughts on “CDR Salamander: A Book Review – Shipmate Style”

  1. This book is all about what the author writes in the forward – giving credit where credit is due. Personally, I don’t blame the author for writing the book, especailly with all the spiking being done by the Obama administration. Sure, they get to spike the ball because he was the man in the house when it was decision time, but be prepared for push back.

  2. I do blame the author, and there’s nothing selective about my outrage. When you sign the non-disclosure acts, you are making an oath. You are commiting yourself to keeping whatever secrets the government entrusts you with and submitting any potential public writings you have to them for review. I signed those same forms (or ones just like them). I take those oaths very seriously. And all justification for “why” aside (as it’s REALLY immaterial, regardless of how sympathetic I may be in this case), there’s no clause in there about being allowed to circumvent your oath to “correct the record” or “if it’s a good cause” or “to right a wrong”. Ultimately, I see no difference (except in magnitude) between this book, the espionage of Pollard, and Bradley Manning’s actions. All three are violations of the oaths these men took. Admittedly Bissonette has committed no espionage nor has he revealed any secrets (sources or methods) that I am aware of. But by failing to submit his work for review he has done more than run afoul of some arcane prohibition. He has broken faith with the government (and by extension, the people). We DO NOT HAVE a right to know what happened that night. Period. We don’t. YES, it sucks that the Narcissist in Chief gets to mold the story and selectively reveal what he wants to score political points. It was NOT up to Bissonette to decide that the oaths he took only held if the TOTUS didn’t spike the football. And it makes me ill that we’re willing to handwave Bissonette while calling for Manning to be locked away. And for the record, I think Manning should be shot, but it looks like they took the death penalty off the table for some moronic reason. In both cases, they decided that because they were being brave truth-tellers telling the truth that needed to be told that they could ignore their oaths and make themselves the declassifying authority.

  3. I too have signed some NDAs in my time. And without a doubt he should have submitted for review. However – times have changed, and people at the top have changed. What Obama and his administration have done with the leaks on the bin Laden raid; STUXNET; and others is simply disgraceful. Sometimes it takes a few good men speaking the truth, no matter the consequences. I tend to agree wholeheartedly with the first commenter Boat School Grad on the CDR’s post. The chain of command works both ways.

    1. “Mom! He did it first!” I simply don’t care how much our ball spiker in chief leaks. Ultimately he IS the national authority on declassifying material. “Speaking the truth” is no defense against violating oaths. And if you truly meant “no matter the consequences” then he should face his consequences! Manning thought he was on the side of angels too. I don’t accept his personal belief system as a defense, so I don’t accept Bissonette’s belief system as one either. I am MUCH more sympathetic to the latter, but that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it legal. Nor should it.

  4. I truly meant “no matter the consequences”. Seeing this DOJ in action they will probably bring charges – the only surprise is that they haven’t already. This is going to be a PR nightmare for the administration – you and I understand what the consequences of violating a NDA. The general public, and most politicians don’t. Had this book not directly contradicted Obama’s leaks there would have been no consequences of any kind. I have the utmost respect for the special operators – no way could I have survived the wet and sandy – most of my career was in a safe warm place. That said, the SEAL community may be outraged with Chief Bissonette but the books, movies, and reality shows produced by the Navy over the last few years have tarnished some of their claims to be “Silent P
    rofessionals”.

  5. In my book, “this can of worms” was opened a long time ago. Any of us who have served this Nation, served it under an oath. This does not just include Military. This also includes Intelligence, Elected or Appointed Officials of this Nation, on all levels. This would include Local, County, State or their equivalents. I would dare say, a great many of us who will carry out their oath and the by baggage that comes with It, to our graves. Even though I do not like the fact of what this man did, he is by no means the worst. This event was a partial conclusion to a never ending problem. There is a reason that they call Afghanistan, “The Cemetery of Empires”. The attacks on 9/11 didn’t just happen, there were reasons behind them. I do not know all of them and therefore, I will not offer my own personal opinion on the reasons why those attacks happened. Before Obama took office, this nation had a number of questionable actions. The attacks are not an excuse for those actions.

    Brad, this is a road that neither of us wants to walk. CDR Salamander has a right to his own views, but doesn’t want to walk that road, either. The challenge for all of us, including Salamander, You, Me is this, “ Let’s spare each other the ‘Selective Outrage”.

  6. I just finished the book on my kindle this morning. There’s nothing classified. He pulls together some facts which had been available in open source documents for several months. Nothing about the “stealth” helicopter for example. He was correcting the record and trying to correct misinformation that had been leaked immediately after the mission, and by administration officials. Again, he should have had it reviewed before publication, but his fears that the book would not have been cleared are sound. In my own opinion it would not have been cleared for political reasons only because it does not shine a warm fuzzy glow on the Obama administration.

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