Pentagon: Secrets divulged in SEAL's book on bin Laden raid

The Pentagon said Tuesday that the book written by a Navy SEAL about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden contains “sensitive and classified” information.

Pentagon spokesman George Little it was a “no-brainer” that the book, No Easy Day, a firsthand account of the raid by a SEAL who was there writing under the pseudonym “Mark Owen,” should have been submitted for pre-publication review.

“When you have special operations units that perform these missions, there are tactics, techniques, and procedures, not to mention human life, that are in play,” Little said at a Pentagon press briefing. “And it is the height of irresponsibility not to have this kind of material checked for the possible disclosure of classified information.”

Little stopped short of saying the Pentagon would pursue legal action against Owen. But his statement Tuesday that the Defense Department (DOD) believes the book contains classified information raises the stakes once again in the fight over the book. The Pentagon sent a letter to the author last week saying he had violated his non-disclosure agreement.

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Patton Boggs attorney Robert Luskin, representing the author, responded to the Pentagon last week by saying the book did not reveal any classified information.

Luskin argued that the non-disclosure agreement did not apply to the information written about in No Easy Day.

Dutton, the book's publisher, says a lawyer who specializes in special operations reviewed the book to ensure it did not disclose classified information.

Little said the Pentagon’s reading of the book was “very different” than Luskin’s, as the Defense Department “strongly believes” pre-publication review was required.

Little said the Pentagon didn’t feel that requesting the publisher withhold release of the book was an option because DOD didn’t learn about the book until recently.

“We didn't have much time in this case, and pre-release copies of the book were already being circulated around,” he said.

If the Obama administration decides to pursue legal action, it would be carried out through the Justice Department, as the author has since left the military.

Little said that DOJ is aware of the Pentagon’s concerns, but wouldn’t get into specifics if the case had been referred.

When asked about other projects involving special operations that the Pentagon has cooperated with — CIA access given to filmmakers of a movie on the bin Laden raid, “Zero Dark Thirty,” has been criticized by Republicans — Little defended DOD’s involvement with Hollywood, saying it was an important mission to help shape public understanding while following policies and procedures.

No Easy Day, which hit No. 1 on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists last week, was officially released Tuesday.

In the book, Owen writes that bin Laden was unarmed and Navy SEALs shot him before he fled to his room, contrary to the White House's account.