Pentagon Threatens To Sue Former SEAL Who Wrote Bin Laden Book

The Department of Defense is threatening a lawsuit against the former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden:

The Defense Department is threatening to go after an ex-SEAL author and his publisher over a new book that challenges the administration’s official account of last year’s raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The Pentagon late Thursday released a letter from its top lawyer, Jeh Johnson, to publishing giant Penguin and “Mark Owen,” the pseudonym of an ex-SEAL special operator who has been identified as Matt Bissonnette. In the letter, Johnson said Bissonnette had breached non-disclosure agreements he signed while on active duty in 2007.

According to official Navy records obtained Thursday by POLITICO, Bissonnette served in the Navy from 1998 until April of this year. Johnson wrote that the NDA he’d signed remained in effect “even after you left the active duty Navy.”

“In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed,” Johnson wrote to “Owen,” in keeping with DOD’s policy not to identify some special operators. “Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”

Johnson closed by informing “Owen” and Penguin that the Defense 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 Pentagon could ask the Justice Department to try to prosecute Bissonnette or seize the royalties raised by the book, which is officially due out Monday but has already gone on sale in some places. Its original release date was Sept. 11, but it was moved up in response to national hype over the first account of the bin Laden raid to come from a member of the team that staged it.

The government won’t be able to stop publication of the book at this point, but it seems fairly clear that Bissonnette is in some serious legal trouble here for not clearing this book with the Pentagon.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    it seems fairly clear that Bissonnette is in some serious legal trouble here for not clearing this book with the Pentagon.

    I blame Obama and his socialist ways.

  2. AllenS says:

    In Obama’s State of the Union address he stated: “I’m Barack Obama and I Killed Osama bin Laden.” Evidently, this administration is trying to defend Obama’s ridiculous statement by threatening a Navy SEAL who just happened to be on the mission. Let’s take note here, the SEAL is only disagreeing with how bin Laden died and nothing more. Who you gonna believe, a SEAL member who was there, or the POTUS who wasn’t there?

  3. Murray says:

    @AllenS: I was wondering how many comments it would take for the “mean Obama going after a Hero” BS to appear. I didn’t think it would take only two.

  4. DC Loser says:

    This is not a surprise to anyone (me included) who has signed a NDA with the government. If I ever want to write about my job I know I have to submit any material to the Publication Review Board to let it be vetted. It stated clearly it was a lifetime obligation, not only when you are working for the government. Anyone who has read Frank Snepp’s “Decent Interval” knows his story in battling the USG on the publication of his book and how he ended up forfeiting any profits from its publication.

  5. Just Me says:

    I am curious why the ex Seal didn’t think the non disclosure agreement still applied.

    He was working off some bad advice.

  6. Anyone notice how the Republicans, after weeks of howling about how bad leaks of classified information are hurting national security, suddenly don’t care about it anymore?

  7. al-Ameda says:

    I’m sure that Congressman Darrell Issa will initiate an inquiry into why the Obama Administration is threatening to go after this SEAL Team partisan hack.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Murray:

    I didn’t think it would take only two.

    HEY! I blamed Obama first!

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Anyone notice how the Republicans, after weeks of howling about how bad leaks of classified information are hurting national security, suddenly don’t care about it anymore?

    That’s because he’s a hero Stormy. Don’t you know anything?

  9. @OzarkHillbilly:

    That’s because he’s a hero Stormy. Don’t you know anything?

    Thomas Drake was a hero. This guy is just a partisan with an axe to grind.

  10. mantis says:

    @AllenS:

    In Obama’s State of the Union address he stated: “I’m Barack Obama and I Killed Osama bin Laden.”

    You lie!

  11. sam says:

    @AllenS:

    In Obama’s State of the Union address he stated: “I’m Barack Obama and I Killed Osama bin Laden.”

    You are a liar.

    Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

    We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

    These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. …

    One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates — a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary — and Hillary Clinton — a woman who ran against me for president.

    All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job — the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s somebody behind you, watching your back.

    So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong. [State of the Union Address, January 24, 2012]

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @sam:

    @AllenS:
    In Obama’s State of the Union address he stated: “I’m Barack Obama and I Killed Osama bin Laden.”
    You are a liar.

    This is what happens when people like Allen listen to FoxNews and conservative talk radio regularly. If something like “Barack Obama and I Killed Osama bin Laden,” is repeated often enough people accept it as fact. That’s not media bias, that’s media lies.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    I think we can place this nitwit in the same pigeonhole as the ROTC student who was shocked, absolutely shocked to discover that just because he was convicted of a felony he couldn’t become an officer.

    (I mean, really–I’m only a lowly patent agent at a law firm but even I know that before you release potentially confidential information YOU CLEAR IT WITH YOUR EMPLOYER.)