WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday that a former Navy SEAL’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden contains classified information, intensifying a dispute with the author over whether the book harmed national security.
Defense Department spokesman George Little said that an examination of the book, “No Easy Day,” revealed “sensitive and classified information,” and he reiterated that author Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pen name Mark Owen, violated nondisclosure agreements by failing to submit it for government review before it went on sale this week.
“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 news conference “And it is the height of irresponsibility not to have this kind of material checked for the possible disclosure of classified information.”
He did not say what in the book is classified.
After copies of the book began circulating last week, Defense officials initially refused to say whether they believed the book contained classified information. Tuesday’s assertion could make it more likely that the government will take action against Bissonnette, possibly by suing him to claim the profits from the book.
Little said the government was still reviewing its legal options.
Bissonnette’s lawyer said in a letter to the Defense Department last week that his client had “scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure it did not disclose” classified material and “remains confident that he has faithfully fulfilled his duty.”
Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, who leads the Naval Special Warfare Command, criticized SEALs, including Bissonnette, who in recent months have written books, disclosed details about missions and training, and gone public with criticism of President Obama over his claims of credit for the Bin Laden raid.
“For an elite force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so. We owe our chain of command much better than this,” Pybus said.
“Our real or potential adversaries accumulate information about the U.S. military,” he added, noting that unauthorized personal forays and activities into the public domain that propagate [Naval Special Warfare] details expose us to unnecessary danger.”