Pentagon: Bin Laden book contains classified info
This book cover image released by Dutton shows "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden."
WASHINGTON — A former Navy SEAL who fired bullets into the body of Osama bin Laden and later wrote a book about the historic raid has violated prohibitions against revealing classified information, the Pentagon declared Tuesday.
“Let’s cut through it: Sensitive and classified information is contained in the book,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
Meanwhile, the admiral who heads Naval Special Warfare Command said the book might provide enemies with dangerous insight into secretive U.S. operations.
Rear Adm. Sean Pybus told about 8,000 troops under his command Tuesday that "hawking details about a mission" and selling other information about SEAL training and operations puts the force and their families at risk.
"For an elite force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so," Pybus wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. "We owe our chain of command much better than this."
Nevertheless, the Defense Department has no plans to try to stop sales of the book at military exchanges, Little said. After previous disclosures of information the Pentagon deemed classified, including the WikiLeaks case, the department took steps to prevent government employees from accessing the material.
Little did not detail what secrets were revealed in “No Easy Day” by former SEAL Team Six member Matt Bissonnette and journalist Kevin Maurer, which was released Tuesday. But, Little said, nondisclosure agreements that Bissonnette previously signed required him to submit the book to the Pentagon to ensure that classified material is protected.
Not doing so was the “height of irresponsibility,” Little said.
“It’s a no brainer, this is common sense,” Little said. “If you are a special operator, if you’re an intelligence officer inside the Department of Defense, or inside the intelligence community and you decide to write a book involving intelligence equities or special operations equities ... it is plain, it is simple.”
Bissonette’s account differed from several previous accounts by the Obama administration. The book revealed bin Laden put up no resistance and was initially shot outside the bedroom. He fell back inside the room where several shots were later fired into his torso by Bissonnette and another unnamed SEAL as he lay on the floor.
The Pentagon has not decided whether legal action should be pursued, Little said. The Department of Justice would take the lead in any court action.
A letter to Bissonnette last week from Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, said the author was “in material breach of nondisclosure agreements [he] signed.”
An attorney for Bissonnette responded that the book contained nothing classified and said the author was not required to submit the manuscript for review before publication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.