“No Easy Day” versus “Zero Dark Thirty” – The hunt for Osama bin Laden

I just got back from watching “Zero Dark Thirty”.  About 2 months ago I read “No Easy Day” which was a first person account of the very same story by one of the members of the Navy SEAL Team 6 which captured and killed Osama bin Laden.
SPOILER ALERT… The movie followed an approximately 8 to 9 year period of time, where a female CIA agent (same as the book) tried to find UBL.  The government refers to Osama bin Laden as Usama bin Laden, and in both the book and the movie the use of UBL is used extensively.
IMHO, the book was better.  The reasons are that the book focused on the raid and killing of UBL.  The movie focused on the intelligence gathering which led to the raid.  Additionally, quite a few small, minor yet significant, details were either skipped or flat out changed.  As the movie focused so much on the time leading up to the raid, the raid ended up feeling very anti-climactic.  For me this was a huge bummer.  As an American who was fed up with the lack of our government’s ability to find UBL for all those years, I really was hoping for moment where the entire theater would want to jump up and applaud the death of UBL.  It didn’t feel this way at all.
The movie did a fair job of showing how brutal and methodical the Navy SEALs are when they’re “clearing” a room.  Even once an enemy has been shot, they always put two more rounds in to the chest of the enemy.  I suppose that is a good way to ensure he/she doesn’t jump back up and shoot you in the back.

I would have preferred if the story showed how America reacted after hearing the news (coming together outside the White House after hearing about the raid).  I would have liked to see the positive identification given by both one of the children of Osama and one of his wives.  In the book, the SEALs were very clear in not naming who they’d just shot.  They took steps to ensure that they didn’t put words in the mouths of those who were identifying Osama.  I recall the question “Who is this man?” and the reply was “You shot the Sheik”.  Upon, further interrogation, the question was asked again and the child was the first “to break” and say “he is Osama bin Laden”.  Finallly, one of the wives did the same.
The book also provided an in depth explanation of the many months the SEALs spent planning the raid, and the contengency plans for a raid gone bad.  Their “marching orders” were to NOT be captured in Pakistan by Pakistani military or police forces.  They were told to use whatever resources they perceived as necessary, to ensure their safe egress.  This, too, was not discussed in the movie.

Additionally, the book explained how the POTUS and his team of advisors discussed options.  The option that the Secretary of Defense was really pushing, was an aerial bombing; however it was determined that no discernable evidence of Osama’s death would be achieved in this manner.

In the end, I believe that the American people want to give all the credit to the SEALs for capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man of our lifetime.  On the surface this seems appropriate; however this was an enormous team effort, and not simply a SEAL team effort.  I believe the greatest hero in this story is the female CIA agent who put her career before her life, to track down leads that others had written off as insignificant.  She spent almost 10 years of tireless and thankless time researching and even doubting herself at times.  Despite the beaurocratic roadblocks, she found the most notorious and infamous terrorist in American history.  Sure, highly trained feet on the ground were required to “go get him”, but ultimately that was the easy part, IMHO.
Overall, I would still give this movie a strong rating, yet if you want decide to go watch it, I highly recommend you do yourself a favor and read the book too.

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