By Jeremy Herb - 08/31/12 01:13 AM EDT
The Pentagon threatened legal action Thursday against the Navy SEAL who penned a book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson wrote a letter to the author of the book No Easy Day, warning that he had violated non-disclosure agreements he signed as a SEAL to “never divulge” classified information.
Johnson wrote that the Pentagon is considering pursuing all legal remedies available, which could include criminal charges.
“In the judgment of the Department of the Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed. Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements,” Johnson wrote in the letter to “Mark Owen,” the pseudonym the SEAL is writing under.
Owen, the former Navy SEAL whose identity has since been revealed, took part in the bin Laden raid, writing an account that contradicted the Obama administration’s story that bin Laden was armed when he was killed by SEALs last year.
His book has skyrocketed to the top of the Amazon and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists, and it is set to be released next week.
But the author and his publisher, Dutton, did not provide a copy of the book for review to the Pentagon or CIA. When news of the book broke last week, the Pentagon warned that Owen could face criminal charges, which would be pursued by the Justice Department, if he divulged classified information.
Johnson wrote that the Pentagon had completed its review after obtaining the book this week.
Owen conducted an interview, where his identity was concealed, on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which will air this Sunday. In excerpts released by CBS, Owen said that the book has nothing to do with politics.
“My worry from the beginning is, you know, it's a political season,” he said. “This book is not political whatsoever. It doesn't bad mouth either party, and we specifically chose Sept. 11 to keep it out of the politics.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the author said the book was “written with respect for my fellow service members while adhering to my strict desire not to disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way."