Navy SEAL says he did not reveal classified info in bin Laden book

The Navy SEAL who has written a firsthand account of the Osama bin Laden raid said Friday that he “faithfully fulfilled his duty” not to divulge classified information, after the Pentagon threatened him with legal action.

Robert Luskin, an attorney with Patton Boggs, responded Friday with a letter to Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson on behalf of “Mark Owen,” the pseudonym of the SEAL author.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Pentagon Thursday sent a letter to Owen threatening legal action - which could include criminal prosecution - over violating a non-disclosure agreement to “never divulge” classified information.

But Luskin wrote that Owen’s book “No Easy Day” did not violate the agreement.

“Mr. Owen sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk,” the attorney told the Pentagon. “He remains confident that he has faithfully fulfilled his duty.”

The Pentagon said that the book was not submitted for pre-publication review, a requirement under the non-disclosure agreement that Owen signed in 2007. But Luskin said that the pre-publication review was not required in this case. He said the non-disclosure agreement is limited in scope and “it is difficult to understand how the matter that is the subject of Mr. Owen’s book could conceivably be encompassed by the non-disclosure agreement.”

Durkin concluded that Owen has “earned the right” to tell his story.

“His abiding interest is to ensure that he is permitted to tell it while recognizing the letter and spirit of the law and his contractual undertakings,” Durkin said.

The book’s release was moved up a week to Sept. 4 after it shot up to the top of bestseller lists.

In early reports on the book, Owen’s telling of the raid that killed bin Laden contradicts the accounts from the Obama administration, as Owen says bin Laden was unarmed and shot before SEALs entered his room.