Update: It turns out, Navy SEAL author Matt Bissonnette was in disguise when he appeared on 60 Minutes last night. A 60 Minutes representative tells us professional makeup artists rendered Bissonnette unrecognizable. In our original post today, we assumed (wrongly) that 60 Minutes simply dimmed the studio lights to disguise him in the segment. That was in part because there is no mention of makeup by 60 Minutes in the short clip published last night. We probably should've trusted that CBS's flagship news magazine knows how to properly disguise a guest.
Original post: So much for anonymity: After attempts to conceal his identity for fear of reprisals, Navy SEAL author Matt Bissonnette has given up trying to disguise his face and his voice in an interview with 60 Minutes, excerpts of which CBS has now released. Introducing the chronicler of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Scott Pelley said: "We've disguised him ... for his own safety," but Bissonnette's face is clearly visible despite the dimly-lit set.
It was a somewhat puzzling move. Before Fox News published Bissonnette's name last week and images of him started circulating in jihadist forums, his publisher planned to hide his face and distort his voice. Even now, Dutton, the publisher of No Easy Day, is asking that media organizations not disclose his name. Now, it seems that Bissonnette has either decided it's not worth hiding his face in public or 60 Minutes just didn't do a good enough job disguising his face. Whatever the case, his life story is out in the open. Following a lengthy profile of him in The Virginia-Pilot published this morning, few biographical details are left to the imagination.
"Bissonnette grew up in a remote Alaskan fishing town," writes the Pilot's Mike Hixenbaugh. "He studied sociology at a private evangelical Christian college in Southern California. He joined the Navy in 1999 and has participated in many of the nation's highest profile special operations missions in recent years." The profile tracks his fast rise in the military as he racked up five Bronze Stars with Valor and a Purple Heart, and interviews those who knew him, including neighbors and Navy personnel. But one nagging question remains: Why did he publish the book?
According to Hixenbaugh, "Rumors have swirled about Bissonnette's motives for releasing his book two months ahead of a presidential election. He's registered as a Republican in Alaska." But in his interview with 60 Minutes he rejects the view that his book is political.
“If these – crazies on either side of the aisle want to make it political, shame on them,” Bissonnette he said. “This is a book about September 11th, and it needs to rest on September 11th. Not be brought into the political arena, because this – this has nothing to do with politics.”
Whatever the potential political considerations, Bissonnette made a bold move by deciding to publish a tell-all — a decision many observers say all but guaranteed the eventual disclosure of his name. Now, he's not only in legal trouble with the Pentagon for writing about the classified mission, but he's got revenge to worry about. We can only hope he's taking every precaution to ensure his safety. See the 60 Minutes clip below; the full interview airs on Sunday.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.