From an award-winning investigative journalist, a hard-hitting exposé of the unchecked crimes of SEAL Team 6, revealing how the Navy SEAL forces were developed and then sacrificed in the service of American empire.

The Navy SEALs are, for most Americans, the ultimate heroes. Their 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden was celebrated as a victory in the War on Terror. Former SEALs rake in thousands of dollars as leadership consultants for American corporations. And young men who want to join the military dream of serving in their elite ranks.

But as recent revelations have shown, the SEALs have lost their bearings. In Code Over Country, investigative journalist Matthew A. Cole tells the story of the most celebrated SEAL unit, SEAL Team 6, revealing the dark, troubling pattern of war crimes and deep moral rot hidden behind the heroic narratives.

From their origins during the World War II and their first test during the Vietnam War, the SEALs were trained to be specialized killers with short missions. But as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned into the endless War on Terror, their carefully-managed violencespiraled out of control.

Drawing on years of reporting, Cole follows SEAL Team 6’s history, the high-level decisions that unleashed their violence, and the coverups that prevented their crimes from coming to light. Code Over Country is a much-needed reckoning with the unchecked power of the military — and the harms enacted by and upon soldiers in our name.

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Praise

“Matthew Cole has produced a searing and unvarnished history of a state-sponsored organized crime syndicate that operates globally with impunity bestowed upon it by the United States government. Since 9/11, Navy SEAL Team 6 has been elevated to legendary status in the media, and its members showered with medals and accolades from presidents, especially in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Through an even-handed accounting of the failures and successes of SEAL Team 6, from its Cold War origins to the present, Cole has masterfully documented the bloody, dark underbelly of these ‘quiet warriors.’ He exposes the sociopaths and murderers who operate on the tip of the spear of the covert US war machine, along with the military and political leaders who have shielded them from accountability. Code Over Country is a meticulously crafted corrective aimed at dismantling the dishonest mythology that dominates the public understanding of the most elite fighting force in US history.”
 —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.”—Sy 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
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Meet The Author: Matthew Cole

Matthew A. Cole is an investigative journalist at The Intercept. He has covered national security since 2005, reporting extensively on the CIA’s post-9/11 transformation, on the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and on the U.S.’s intelligence operations. He was previously an investigative producer for ABC and NBC News, and has written for GQ, Salon, Details, ESPN, and New York. He has won a Deadline Club Award and has received two Emmy nominations for his reporting. A graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Cole lives in Brooklyn with his family.

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