Pentagon Threatens Legal Action Over Bin Laden Book

by
Reuters
The Pentagon warned on Thursday that it was considering legal action against a former U.S. Navy SEAL for material breach of non-disclosure agreements with his first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

A policeman walks in front of the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad May 3, 2011.

(Reuters) - The Pentagon warned on Thursday that it was considering legal action against a former U.S. Navy SEAL for material breach of non-disclosure agreements with his first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, and subsequently released by the Pentagon, the Pentagon's top attorney also warned that it was also considering legal options against anyone "acting in concert" with the author.

The letter, addressed to "Mark Owen," the pseudonym under which the book was written, identified two separate non-disclosure agreements he signed with the Navy that legally committed him to never divulge classified information.

"You are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed," the letter by Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's General Counsel, said.

"The Department of Defense is considering pursuing against you, and all those acting in concert with you, all remedies legally available to us in light of this situation."

U.S. officials said last week they were surprised by the book, which was not vetted by government agencies to ensure that no secrets were revealed.

The book has received widespread media coverage and the Pentagon letter noted that some copies have already been released, even ahead of the book's formal release next week.

"Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements," the letter warned.

Earlier this week, the author said in a statement from his publisher that the book was written "with respect for my fellow service members while adhering to my strict desire not to disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way."

But many in the special operations community have privately expressed disappointment in recent days over the book and the publicity it has received.

The author now faces threats against his life. An official al Qaeda website last week posted a photograph and the real name of the former Navy commando, calling him "the dog who murdered the martyr Sheikh Osama bin Laden."