Pentagon May Take Legal Action Against SEAL Author

The Pentagon says it is considering taking legal action against the author of No Easy Day, a firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

In a letter [PDF] to the author, the Defense Department’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, said the book violated the author’s agreements to not divulge military secrets.

The author of No Easy Day is Matt Bissonnette, who used the pseudonym Mark Owen. Johnson’s letter is addressed to “Mr Owen.”

The letter says the author signed two nondisclosure agreements, which remain in force though he has left the active-duty Navy.

Here’s more from the letter dated Aug. 30:

“I write to formally advise you of your material breach and violation of your agreements, and to inform you that the Department is considering pursuing against you, and all those acting in concert with you, all remedies legally available to us in light of this situation.”

According to The Associated Press, Bissonnette writes that the SEALs spotted bin Laden at the top of a darkened hallway during the May 2011 raid and shot him in the head even though they could not tell whether he was armed. That appears to contradict the Obama administration’s account of the killing, which described the SEALs shooting bin Laden “only after he ducked back into a bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon,” according to the AP.

Bissonnette says the book is “not political whatsoever,” and he wrote it to set the record straight. Here’s what he says in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes due to air Sept. 9: “If these crazies on either side of the aisle want to make it political, shame on them. This is a book … about Sept. 11, and it needs to rest on Sept. 11, not be brought into the political arena.”

Bissonnette’s book goes on sale Sept. 4.

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