Pentagon Checking Navy SEAL Osama Bin Laden Raid Book for Secrets, Leaks
A U.S. Navy SEAL, a member of Team 6 - the team that killed Osama bin Laden - has written a firsthand account of the operation. Of course, this has triggered more questions about the possible public release of classified information than anything else. And with good reason - the book hasn't been read by anyone in the Defense Department.
However, that's all about to change. U.S. officials said today that they are currently reviewin, "No Easy Day," the soon-to-be-published account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, checking for leaks of classified information.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Defense Department officials "received the manuscript and we are looking at it."
CIA spokesman Preston Golson would only say that "the CIA has a copy of the book."
Bissonnette, a former Navy SEAL who participated in the raid, wrote under the pseudonym Mark Owen, and did not submit the book for pre-publication review that is required by the military secrecy agreements officials say he signed.
Pentagon regulations stipulate that retired personnel, former employees and non-active duty members of the Reserves "shall use the DoD security review process to ensure that information they submit for public release does not compromise national security."
Pentagon officials say that if they determine the manuscript reveals classified information about the raid, the Pentagon would "defer to the Department of Justice."
If there is classified information in the book, the former SEAL could very well face criminal charges.
The publisher says the author intends to give the "majority" of the proceeds to charity, but the Justice Department could still sue to collect any future book proceeds as well.
A special operations advocacy group, Special Operations-OPSEC, which is criticizing President Barack Obama over alleged leaks and making the raid the national security centerpiece of his re-election campaign, asked the attorney general to block the book's release until the government can make sure it reveals no classified information.
In a letter released to The Associated Press, the group asked the Justice Department "to immediately seek...an injunction in federal court to prevent this book from being published and distributed" until it can be reviewed.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd says the department is reviewing the letter.
Dutton announced the book's pending release last week, saying that "No Easy Day" will "set the record straight" on the bin Laden operation. While the author is listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen, and the publisher had asked news organizations to withhold his identity he has since been identified as Matt Bissonnette, who retired from the Navy last summer. Bissonnette received the rank of chief before he retired.
After the initial burst of publicity, the book shot up to the top of the Amazon.com chart, reaching No. 1 as of late Friday morning and remaining there Monday, displacing the hugely popular erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of Gray."
One Navy SEAL told Fox News, "How do we tell our guys to stay quiet when this guy won't?" Other SEALs are expressing anger, with some going so far as to call him a "traitor."
And Col. Tim Nye, a Special Operations Command spokesman, said the author "put himself in danger" by writing the book.
"This individual came forward. He started the process. He had to have known where this would lead," Nye said. "He's the one who started this so he bears the ultimate responsibility for this."
A spokeswoman for the Penguin imprint Dutton, Christine Ball, said the work was vetted by a former special operations attorney provided by the author.
"He vetted it for tactical, technical and procedural information as well as information that could be considered classified by compilation and found it to be without risk to national security," Ball said.
"No Easy Day," is scheduled for publication on Sept. 11.