The book, titled “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden,” has received criticism from government officials and current and former servicemembers because the author, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, did not submit the manuscript for pre-clearance.
At the beginning of the press conference, Little would only say that the Pentagon believes the book contains “sensitive and classified” information. “At this stage, let me put it this way. We do think that sensitive and classified information is probably contained in the book,” he said. But when reporters pressed Little to clarify DOD’s views of what’s inside Owen’s book, Little offered a more definitive answer:
LITTLE: Let’s cut through it. Sensitive and classified information is contained in the book. Now, look.
QUESTION: It is?
LITTLE: Is. Is. Is contained. … I’ll — let me put a definitive mark on it, OK, so that I can be as clear as possible. And this is — when you have special operations units that perform these missions, there are tactics, techniques, and procedures, not to mention human life, that are in play. And it is the height of irresponsibility not to have this kind of material checked for the possible disclosure of classified information. And we have very serious concerns after having reviewed the book.
The Defense Department also said that Owen is in violation of disclosure agreements he signed in 2007, a charge Owen’s lawyer disputed, saying the former Navy SEAL has “earned the right to tell his story“:
Robert D. Luskin of the law firm Patton Boggs wrote to Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, on Friday informing him that his firm is representing Owen and asserting that he is not in breach of his nondisclosure agreements.
Luskin, who represented White House aide Karl Rove in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity in the Bush administration, said the author had “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. He remains confident that he has faithfully fulfilled his duty.”
No Easy Day went on sale today and is expected to knock the Twilight-inspired “Fifty Shades of Grey” off the top spot on many best-seller lists.