Navy SEAL turns over pic of Bin Laden’s corpse, accidently gives up his secret business – report
A Navy SEAL who participated in killing Osama Bin Laden is facing a new legal battle with the US government. A hard drive with an image of Bin Laden’s corpse has reportedly given up his side business when investigators looked through files.
According to the Intercept, handing over the hard drive was part of a deal between the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Matthew Bissonnette, who is under investigation for unlawfully possessing classified material. Since the May 2011 operation that killed the international terrorist, the Obama administration has been keeping any evidence or accounts of Bin Laden’s death away from the public eye.
Under the agreement with NCIS, the former SEAL had to give a copy of his hard drive in exchange for avoiding prosecution. However, compliance has only widened the probe into his activities, as two people familiar with the investigation told the Intercept’s Matthew Cole.
“During their search of his hard drive, investigators subsequently found emails and records dealing with Bissonnette’s work as a consultant while he was on active duty at SEAL Team 6,” Cole wrote.
All of those files were not part of the agreement with the NCIS, which was at first interested only in the pictures.
One of the questions the investigation is now looking into is whether or not Bissonnette used his status as a SEAL to strike deals with companies supplying the Navy’s elite unit. It appeared that Bissonnette helped set up a Virginia Beach-based company called Element Group, which is also reportedly under the NCIS scrutiny.
“According to several former SEAL Team operators familiar with the company, Element Group also did business with at least one Defense Department contractor that sold equipment to SEAL Team 6,” Cole reported.
The defense contractor in question is Atlantic Diving Supply, or ADS. It reportedly has military supply and equipment contracts with SEAL Team 6, as well as business with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
As one of the people familiar with the case anonymously revealed to the Intercept, ADS paid at least several hundred thousand dollars to Element Group. Investigators are now trying to find out exactly what services Bissonnette and Element Group provided to the government contractor.
“The relationship with ADS raised ethical concerns among leaders at SEAL Team 6 when they first learned about it in 2011, because ADS was a significant supplier to the unit, according to two former senior SEAL leaders,” Cole said.
Bissonnette did have contacts with manufacturers and suppliers as a part of his duty within SEAL Team 6, where he was “seen as a rising star” by command. He was reportedly tasked with assessing and evaluating what equipment was needed for classified training exercises and missions.
“Biss was part of the procurement process,” a former SEAL Team 6 operator told federal investigators. “It was natural for him to deal with companies making our gear.”
Business relations between ADS and Element Group, which has been shut down, are now also under investigation.
The NCIS confirmed to the Intercept that there is such an ongoing case, however, it refused to give further details.
Bissonnette had already been under a probe by both the Justice Department and the Navy after publishing his insider-account book ‘No easy day,’ in which he gave his version of the Bin Laden raid.
Robert Luskin, an attorney who represents Bissonnette, has confirmed that the case was closed in August 2015 after he negotiated with the Pentagon and Justice Department, agreeing to hand over millions of dollars in book profits that he received to the government.
According to his lawyer’s recent claim, Bissonnette disregarded advice to first submit his book to the federal government for clearance before it was published in September 2012 under a pen name of Mark Owen.
No SEAL of approval: Commando writes unsanctioned book about Bin Laden raid http://t.co/1qTqe5Ai— RT (@RT_com) August 24, 2012
The dispute between Bissonnette and his lawyer at the time, Kevin Podlaski, has been ongoing since November 2014, when the former SEAL filed a lawsuit against Podlaski and his firm.
Bissonnette has been claiming that he was given wrong advice, and told not to show his manuscript for Defense Department evaluation, which violates the rules. However, Podlaski has responded with his own suit rejecting Bissonnette’s accusations.
According to a court filing, it was the former SEAL’s decision not to give the manuscript for the review, but to instead publish the book sooner in order to get the jump on other accounts, such as movies or publications, as well as get the highest pay for his first-hand take. Podlaski said he was also misinformed about Bissonnette’s military status and that, when his book was started, he was unaware of all the classified information. He also insists that Bissonnette lied about signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Bissonnette did publicly admit in interviews that his unauthorized book was a violation of Defense Department policy.