The 36-year-old former Navy SEAL Team 6 member from Alaska took part in the killing of the world's most infamous terrorist on May 2, 2011. His book "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden" is due for release on Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of the attack on the U.S.
This information, along with "Owen's" full name, was published by Fox News Thursday, possibly putting him and those close to him in danger. The New York Times reports the book's publisher, E. P. Dutton, had intended to disguise the author's face and voice when he appeared on television for interviews.
The Fox News article that revealed the author's name was written by Justin Fishel. But in May 2011, the same Fishel wrote another article for Fox News stressing the importance of the anonymity of the SEALs.
"Protecting servicemembers is also a major reason that [then-Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates opposes the release of bin Laden's death photos," Fishel wrote last year. "If the photos got out they would be photoshopped in a way that could further inflame radical extremists and those sympathetic to bin Laden."
Dutton's corporate parent, Penguin Group, released a statement saying "Owen was one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist leader's hideout and was present at his death," reports Fox News. The SEAL Team 6 member was also one of the troops who rescued an American captain kidnapped by Somali pirates.
An issue with the Navy SEAL's book was raised in the headline of the Fox News article: "whether ex-Navy SEALs have freedom of speech," or not. "Any service member who discloses classified or sensitive information could be subject to prosecution -- this doesn't end when you leave the service," said Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, according to Fox News.
If any legal action were taken on the matter, it would be handled by the Department of Justice, because "Owen" is a former service member. Think Progress noted that CIA and White House officials have not reviewed the book's content to say whether it gives out any classified or sensitive information.
The exposure of the SEAL's identity seems in contrast to Fox News's normal stance. Gawker points out that the news organization "repeatedly claims to be more patriotic and troop-friendly than its competitors."
Fox News also noted that the names of other members of the team were changed to keep their identities safe. Proceeds from the "No Easy Day" will be donated to charities for the benefit of families of Navy SEALs who have died.