On August 30, 2012, the Pentagon’s general counsel informed the former Navy SEAL who authored a forthcoming book detailing a raid that killed Osama bin Laden that he violated agreements to not divulge military secrets.
According to CBSNews, The general counsel of the Defense Department wrote in a letter transmitted to the former Navy SEAL author that he signed two nondisclosure agreements with the Navy in 2007 that required him to “never divulge” classified information: “This commitment remains in force even after you left the active duty Navy.” According to the letter, the author left active duty “on or about April 20, 2012,” nearly a year after the May 2011 raid.
“Mark Owen” is the pen name of the former Navy SEAL who wrote “No Easy Day.” According to NBCNews, the lawyer for Owen responded to the press on the general counsel’s letter: “Mr. Owen sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk.” A Pentagon spokesperson reported it was not clear if the book really contained damaging classified information: “I’m not going to say whether the book has classified information in it.”
The former Navy SEAL acknowledged his awareness that disclosure of classified information constituted a violation of federal criminal law. The United States Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land Teams, commonly known as the Navy SEAL, are the principal special operations force. “SEAL” is derived from the teams’ capacity to operate at sea, in the air, and on land.
In the death of Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011, a team of 40 CIA-led Navy SEALs from DEVGRU, with 24 on the ground, completed an operation to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The media coverage raised the public profile of the SEAL community, especially the counter-terrorism specialists commonly known as SEAL Team 6. The Pentagon said the manuscript for the ex-Navy SEAL’s book was not submitted for review, but it obtained a copy on its own.
The Pentagon general counsel stated that after reviewing “No Easy Day,” the Pentagon concluded the author was in “material breach and violation” of the non-disclosure agreements. The book is to be published in early September 2012 by Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint.
In an interview “60 Minutes” to air September 9, 2012, Owen detailed a before-raid rehearsal using a life-size mockup of Osama bin Laden’s compound in front of top military brass. His rationale behind writing the book was “not political whatsoever” but instead “about September 11.”