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Code Over Country: The Tragedy and Corruption of SEAL Team Six Hardcover – February 22, 2022
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A hard-hitting exposé of SEAL Team 6, the US military’s best-known brand, that reveals how the Navy SEALs were formed, then sacrificed, in service of American empire.
The Navy SEALs are, in the eyes of many Americans, the ultimate heroes. When they killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, it was celebrated as a massive victory. Former SEALs rake in cash as leadership consultants for corporations, and young military-bound men dream of serving in their ranks.
But the SEALs have lost their bearings. Investigative journalist Matthew Cole tells the story of the most lauded unit, SEAL Team 6, revealing a troubling pattern of war crimes and the deep moral rot beneath authorized narratives. From their origins in World War II, the SEALs have trained to be specialized killers with short missions. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became the endless War on Terror, their violence spiraled out of control.
Code Over Country details the high-level decisions that unleashed the SEALs’ carnage and the coverups that prevented their crimes from coming to light. It is a necessary and rigorous investigation of the unchecked power of the military—and the harms enacted by and upon soldiers in America’s name.
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―Jeremy Scahill, New York Times–bestselling author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
“Matthew Cole is telling us what we, in America, need to know about some of those men celebrated in movies and media as heroes in SEAL Team 6. The real issue, as Cole makes clear, is the leadership and command structure that shields and protects criminal behavior. This is not a book about heroism, although there is much, but tolerated wrongdoing.”―Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
“Matthew Cole’s Code Over Country is a remarkable achievement. Cole has flanked the hagiography that has for so long protected the image of SEAL Team 6, and has cut deep behind the lines to tell the brutal truth. After reading this book, I realized that there is the Hollywood version of SEAL Team 6, and then there is the truth, laid bare by Matthew Cole.”―James Risen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the forthcoming The Last Honest Man: How Frank Church Fought the CIA, the Mafia, J. Edgar Hoover, and the National Security State
“Journalist Cole debuts with a searing investigation… Backed by meticulous research and lucid insights into SEAL culture, this is an impassioned and persuasive call for reforming one of the world’s most elite fighting forces.”―Publishers Weekly
“Cole wrote a thorough and frankly brave book.”―Spencer Ackerman, "Forever Wars"
“The strongest rebuke Special Operations, specifically, the SEAL community has yet faced during the War on Terror…Code Over Country is issuing the real report card, the one that Special Operations Command and Naval Special Warfare have been desperate to hide for decades. While outstanding journalistic works have been produced about the SEALs, Code Over Country examines the entire Navy SEAL enterprise, and where it came off the rails.”―Connecting Vets
About the Author
- Publisher : Bold Type Books (February 22, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1568589050
- ISBN-13 : 978-1568589053
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #34,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2022
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I think it's very easy to insert your pet project, or outrage, at this or that particular group, based on your political leanings. I think another author could just as easily pick something like a certain "Foundation" and express just as much outrage at all the moral and ethical failings you might find there.
So my question is, what's the point of raising all this now? Who benefits from exposing all the moral and ethical failures of this particular group? At a time when diametrically opposed forces battle for the soul of America.
If you want to just "stick to the facts, Ma'm", as an investigative journalist, at this level, it is a good read about what can happen when unbridled egos, competition, and even blood lust can corrupt an organization, without proper over-sight. And the stresses of over twenty years of warfare on the human psyche. This is a cautionary tale of that, in and of itself. And we can go full Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (or the cartoon version "Apocalypse Now" ) to discuss if the "Col Kurtz" theory of unconventional warfare is right, or that he needed to be reigned in. And that is a moral debate for another time. However, you must consider this before accusing these men of "war crimes" in theater. It's very easy to sit at home, and cast aspersions at others who signed up to fight for you. As Heinlein said: "Pacifism is a shifty doctrine that claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." So easy to criticize these guys while you sat at home and watched, or even in this case, went to the warzone to observe it.
Now the non-combat zone failures, that IS another story, and it has not been addressed. There is a culture of depravity, violence, and a code of silence that prevents outsiders from penetrating their society. I have lived in San Diego over 20 years and have seen enough of it. Sailors can be some very disgusting creatures, with frogman oftentimes leading the way. Not that the Marines are that far behind (but proud of Mrs. Roosevelt's declaration of their filthy minds). And I'm sure Soldiers and Airman vie for top (bottom?) honors. But singling them out as moral and ethical failures is really cherry-picking the current crop, IMHO. I think you could find as many moral or ethical failures in any walk of life you care to mention these days. I have my own laundry list but that's not the point.
The real criticism that has validity is the lack of senior leadership to nip any moral or ethical failings in the bud, before they became institutionalized. And this goes all the way back to "Demo Dick" , if not to Draper and the UDT's. This "pirate" culture has always been part and parcel of the "Teams". Going all the way back to Lt Penny's death at UDT-21, which was simply inexcusable. And the fact that so many involved in enabling this behavior are presently serving in the highest echelons of NSW/JSOC. Yeah that's a problem.
But the individual frogman, grunt, or whoever, is gonna do just what they are allowed/encouraged to do. And as Patton was supposed to have said: "When you stick your fingers in the goo that was once your buddy's face, well, you'll know what to do". Soldiers have often-times looked for a little pay-back, and their officers have often-times looked the other way. Not defending it, just simply saying it's a very human response. Until we all spend twenty years and 13 deployments in that kind of environment I say let's be slow to judge them.
So as you can see, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I would say there is probably much truth to some of these allegations, however I question the motivation behind it's publication. If the author wants to follow up with all the atrocities committed by a certain radical religious group, then that would be fair and balanced. If not, well you have to question whether this is politically motivated.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 3, 2022