Pentagon: SEAL's book has classified info, didn't follow protocol
"No Easy Day" written by a former US Navy SEAL details the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound
September 4th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Pentagon: SEAL's book has classified info, didn't follow protocol

By Barbara Starr

A Pentagon official said Tuesday that a former Navy SEAL who helped kill Osama bin Laden included classified material in his new book and did not follow protocol for pre-publication review.

On the same day the much-anticipated memoir hit book shelves, CNN obtained a copy of message written by the SEALs' commander to members of his unit.

In it, Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said he was "disappointed, embarrassed and concerned" that troops are now openly speaking and writing about their secret work.

Pre-orders put the book at No. 1 on Amazon's bestseller list for two weeks.

But the Pentagon was not as as eager to see the release of "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden."

Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters that officials believe the book contains sensitive and classified material. The Defense Department is reviewing what options it may have, according to Little.

Last week, the Pentagon's general counsel threatened legal action against the man who wrote the revealing book.

In a letter addressed to "Mark Owen," the pen name of author Matt Bissonnette, General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson alleged the writer violated secrecy agreements and broke federal law.

"In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the nondisclosure agreements you signed. Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements," Johnson wrote.

Bissonnette's lawyer responded in a letter last week saying the author "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."

Bissonnette did not submit the book for pre-publication review, as he was obliged to do, according to Little.

Officials are concerned about protecting classified information, and not preventing the telling of a story, according to the press secretary.

The Pentagon has not banned copies of the book from military exchanges.

The controversy has not extinguished the hot demand for the memoir.

Publisher Dutton had originally planned to release 300,000 copies, but after fevered hype, it increased the number to 575,000, according to Publisher's Weekly.

In the 336-page book, Bissonnette wrote about his concerns that bin Laden would put up a fight, after the SEALs' helicopter crashed near bin Laden's compound.

"Roughly 15 minutes had passed and bin Laden had plenty of time to strap on a suicide vest or simply get his gun," he says in the book.

Bin Laden was not wearing a vest when he died. His two guns, according to Bissonnette, were on a shelf in his bedroom, apparently untouched.

After the helicopter crash and a hard fight to get through the compound's defenses, Bissonnette and several other SEALS were near the top floor of the compound, where intelligence predicted bin Laden would be.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. BOP. BOP.

"The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about 10 feet in front of him. I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room."

The man who peeked out the door had been shot, but was still moving when the SEALs entered the room. Bissonnette described the end.

"In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless."

But there was still the question of whom they had killed. One of Bissonnette's roles was photographing the body.

"It was strange to see such an infamous face up close. Lying in front of me was the reason we had been fighting for the last decade. It was surreal trying to clean blood off the most wanted man in the world so that I could shoot his photo. I had to focus on the mission, right now we needed some good quality photos."

Bissonnette said he had mixed feelings about President Barack Obama, who ordered the operation.

"None of us were huge fans of Obama. We respected him as the commander-in-chief of the military and for giving us the green light on the mission," wrote the former SEAL, who was a 36-year-old chief petty officer when he left the Navy as a highly decorated commando in April.

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  11. JayVMN

    I read the book.
    Thought is was very good. L-O-V-E the SEALS.
    I don't feel as though by reading it I could infiltrate a SEAL team or in any way took away "secrets" that when I read it went Holy Crap...
    I've read other SEAL books. I don't think this was any more "telling..."

    September 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  12. High Horse

    If the Navy Seal devulged classifed information in his book, isn't that an act of treason?

    September 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  13. Soggy2007

    In today's connected digital world secrets don't stay secret for very long. The lesson learned is that you can't have it "both ways". The DOD can't expect service members not to talk about these "covert" actions when politicians all over Washington are constantly blabbing every intimate detail for political gain and subsequently these details are then reported through "open sources" all over the world.

    September 11, 2012 at 9:30 am | Reply
  14. beanne

    The Navy Seal is only following his Commander in Chief's example!

    September 11, 2012 at 6:13 am | Reply
    • Bill

      If the President and VP can talk about it out in the open then the team members should be able to. I do believe it was the VP that told the world that it was Team 6 that done it. Why couldn't they just say he was remove..

      September 11, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
  15. Dave's Dutch

    I certainly want our men and women in arms protected but we have government officials from the military, CIA and Senators who retire and write books and nobody is questioning those actions. Retired generals have written books and discussed the Gulf War etc. but the government wasn't complaining about that. Why about a Seal that isn't displaying secrets? I don't think anyone should be writing books but I hate to see the double standard here. Just my opinion.

    September 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  16. richajam

    What good is it to get the bad guy 10 years later besides revenge?( oh I forgot ....coming elections- someone wants braggin rights). The matter is not about Osama getting hit, its about how one more person had to die for others to feel like they can sleep better at night and feel closure 8K+ miles away. Oh sure, Osama new it was coming( someday and rightly so...) but it says little to those who died in the first place on 9-11 and the troop thereafter.
    If we just acted to prevent the whole thing in the first place, things would not have gotten this far out of control, with little to no deaths in the first place. Then books like this and security breeches, etc would not matter.

    September 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
    • you should s the f u

      Wonderful. You wanted the U.S. to let bin Laden live. How wonderful ... and moronic.

      He was killed in order to exact justice (yes, retributive justice) and weaken al-Qaeda, which remains an active threat to the United States. If you do not like that, f u.

      Sometimes, revenge is necessary. How else were we supposed to exact justice and make sure that the 9/11 victims' killer did not get away?

      September 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  17. qwerty

    If you are a journalist and embarass the USA they will get you for something, freedom of speech, what a joke.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
  18. Just Gave it you

    hahah coward got shot hiding behind his 17 year old wives ..usama was dressed in lady pants called salwaars all men wear in pakistan ROLF

    September 5, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
    • Rah Rah Rah!

      Keep beating-off to your fantasies.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  19. logital

    It is classified to US citizens but known already to everyone in Afgan/Pakiland.

    September 5, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  20. George Patton

    Exactly what is so dangerous to our national security in this book anyway? And what can be so secretive about a cold blooded murder? So far, the only secret here is was that the true Ussama bin Laden who was killed that day or was that an impostor? I guess that we'll never know for sure!!!

    September 5, 2012 at 3:49 am | Reply
  21. giacomoguizzardi

    Reblogged this on giacomoguizzardi and commented:
    Different point of view

    September 5, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
  22. saeed

    cant just china nuke ireland and britain and usa get ride of these morrons im tired of hearing this constent rant nuke australia and new zealand also get ride of these people.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      See a psychiatrist, "saeed" – it's worth the money.

      September 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply

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