Pentagon Censures Ex-Navy Seal Following Nondisclosure Breach
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2012 The Defense Department has sent an advisory letter of material breach and nondisclosure violation to a former Navy Seal who authored a book about his participation in the Osama bin Laden raid, Pentagon officials said here today.
In the book “No Easy Day,” the author, using the pen name Mark Owen, divulges information Navy SEALs used during the raid, which Pentagon officials said may contain classified information, putting military members at risk in future operations.
“The letter … is intended to put on record our very serious concerns about what we believe was a material breach of [a] nondisclosure agreement with the Department of Defense,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. “We take these agreements and we take our obligation to protect classified information very seriously.”
In a letter sent to the publishing company and dated Aug. 30, DOD General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson explained that Owen signed two separate nondisclosure agreements on Jan. 24, 2007, and that the author has an obligation to "never divulge" classified information.
Owen also signed a "Sensitive Compartmented Information Debriefing Memorandum" following his departure from the Navy in April 2012, and that commitment remains in force even upon leaving active duty, according to the DOD letter.
Since Owen elected to forgo pre-publication review with the department before publishing the book, the DOD is “weighing its options,” in terms of what legal actions it will pursue, Little said.
"The Department of Defense has obtained and reviewed an advanced copy of the book ... In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the nondisclosure agreements you signed," the letter said. "Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”
“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," the letter added.
Little said that commendable actions or current status do not indemnify Owen or any other past and present DOD employee from punitive action should they violate the terms of nondisclosure agreements.
“I would … applaud anyone who participated in one of the most successful military and intelligence operations in history,” Little said. “But even those who participated in such a mission have a serious and enduring obligation to follow the process and to help protect classified information.”