WASHINGTON — Despite the Defense Department’s conclusion that a former SEAL’s memoir that chronicles the Osama bin Laden raid contains classified and sensitive information, DOD employees are free to buy and read it.
They don’t have to handle the book, “No Easy Day,” with the special care normally reserved for classified information, either. For instance, there’s no need to store it in a special container — unless classified information has been highlighted, underlined or otherwise identified in a given copy.
But DOD employees who have knowledge of classified contents of the book — the DOD has not hinted publicly what they are, and some former special operators quoted in the media say no secrets were evident in the book — can’t discuss them with those who lack “an official need to know and an appropriate security clearance.”
The Sept. 20 memo from Timothy A. Davis, security director for the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was first reported in the Washington Times.
Book author Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pen name Mark Owen, did not give the Pentagon a chance to read the book before publication to check for secrets, and now DOD says he is in violation of nondisclosure agreements he’d previously signed.
Bissonette says the book was carefully reviewed to avoid divulging secrets, but the Pentagon says it may sue the former member of the elite SEAL Team 6 for breach of contract.