Friday, May 27, 2011

Black Ops and Men in Black

by Mary Margret Daughtridge.

The other day, out making an errand run, on the spur of the moment I decided to detour to a friend’s house.

I paid little attention when the shiny lime green car behind me made the same turns I did, until it turned into the driveway of my friend’s next door neighbor, just as I pulled into her drive. A man got out and walked toward me flashing a badge.

That’s the beginning of the story I was going to introduce this blog with. Sorry, I can’t tell you more. I realized even if I disguised as many details as I could, anyone who knew just a few public facts about me would be able to interpolate what the real story was. And you never know, you just never know who will read a blog.

So I dumped the whole idea.

But thinking about how easily any disguise of a true story could unravel made me appreciate the extreme secrecy under which SEALs operate. Fundamentally, everything about everything they do is secret.

Which is why I was surprised to hear on national media that SEALs specifically rather than “a Special Operations team” were responsible for ending bin Laden’s career.

I was surprised because the media proceeded to do exactly what they do—which is dig for more facts.

“When are we going to see pictures of these men?”

Never. You’d might as well sign their death certificates. The photos would go viral in under three minutes and terrorist organizations would be using them for target practice. If you had a face you were looking for, it wouldn’t be all that hard to learn where an off-duty SEAL might be.

“When will their names be released?”

Never. They have families, children. They could become targets too.

SEALs succeed by appearing where nobody expects them to be and doing what no one knows they can do. I’ve become fairly skillful at reading between the lines of news reports. Imagine what someone with real intelligence at their disposal could do.

I know how much can be put together from seemingly unrelated facts. Tom Clancy author of Hunt for Red October came this close to being accused of breeching national security for his mix of great research and spot on conjecture.

SEALed Forever, my May release, is the result of odds and ends I’ve picked up. An opinion expressed here, facts about the phenomenal increase of more of less off –the-books intelligence gathering, mentions of SEALs being employed in various capacities—it all adds up.

At some point it jelled into a story. Every word is fiction. But then, being a writer chased by my own imagination, I wonder , “What if all that stuff I made up—what if it’s true?”

What if some morning the men in black are on my doorstep wanting to know how I learned about the baby who was smuggled into the country aboard a spy plane?


  1. Great post, MM! I've heard of the feds coming after a writer because of the type of research she was doing. Guess if we don't hear from you, we'll know what happened...

  2. With an imagination like that I'm not surprised that you write such great books! If you don't show up to RWA, I'll round up a posse and we'll come break you out of wherever the man in the shiny green car is holding you. Seriously, loved the post and your men in black and appreciate those REAL men who work behind the scenes without individual glory!

  3. And lest we forget, though they aren't SEALS, there are in certain organizations, those women in black...

  4. This is no lie Cheryl. I've been careful not to use certain words browsing the Net.

    As for not hearing from me, the Patriot Act is set to expire soon. I should be able to get a lawyer and a writ of habeus corpus.

  5. You've put your finger right on my real worry, Grace. I'm real good at making intuitive leaps--who knows what I might in all innocence guess?

    I would never want to endanger in the smallest way those men and women who are putting their lives on the line.

    But I wasn't worried by the green car. I have it on excellent authority the men in black drive big, black cars.

  6. You are so right Grace.

    I've often wondered how they fared, living in an inverted reality. Most people go along looking for friends and helpers. They must go through the world looking for enemies.

  7. I would come rescue you, MM if the men in black ever show up at your door!

    I know we can't see the real men, the real heroes, but I hope someone makes a movie about it like "Blackhawk Down" and we get to see what happened through the eyes of actors. Amelia

  8. Nice post, MM! I'm always amazed at how men doing such extraordinary things manage to keep quiet about them and blend into society - but I've learned that the more people accomplish, the more modest they tend to be and the less they want recognition. I think doing good is its own reward.

  9. I've wondered about a movie.

    I don't know this for a fact, but from observation I've concluded that the stories about failed missions become public almost immediately. Successful operations only come to light about 20 years after the fact.

    Still, they've already broken the rule on the bin Laden raid, so maybe a movie (leaving out some of the really secret, high tech stuff) could be made.

  10. I think you have the right of it, Joanne.

    Those driven by an ego need for the applause and the recognition of others only get so far before they inevitably begin to self-destruct.

  11. Watch this video honoring WWII vets.

    You may have to copy and paste.

  12. So cool, MM!I love reading about SEALs. Real-life heroes.

  13. What a cliffhanger - your real life is a good deal more interesting than mine! I do applaud all the men and women who do the extrodinary to keep us all safe.

  14. Don't kid yourself, Amanda! :-)

    All the excitement in my life takes place in my mind---and I like it that way.

  15. Great post MM! I'm fascinated by SEALs, although the Army Rangers are pretty amazing too. And yeah, I'd be careful about what I research on the internet--though I wouldn't have a problem if all the men in black I've met over the years came knocking on my door--they are all intelligent enough to know you and I wouldn't be doing anything other than writing, and they're all drool-worthy.

  16. Very cool teaser post, MM. Shame on you. :}