Panetta complains Navy SEAL book not vetted by Pentagon

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:43pm EDT

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to reporters after visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial ahead of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to reporters after visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial ahead of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania September 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized a former Navy SEAL for writing a book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, complaining the author never bothered to run it by the Pentagon before going to print.

"The fact that he did it without running it by the Pentagon so that we could take a look at it. I mean, deliberately, just basically said, 'We're not, you know, we're not gonna do this.' That's a concern," Panetta told "CBS This Morning," in an excerpt of an interview that will air on Tuesday.

"I cannot, as secretary, send a signal to SEALs who conduct those operations, 'Oh, you can conduct these operations and then go out and write a book about it. And or sell your story to the New York Times," Panetta said in the excerpt released on Monday.

"How the hell can we run sensitive operations here that go after enemies if people are allowed to do that?"

The book, "No Easy Day," documents the story of U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six, which last year stormed bin Laden's home in Pakistan and killed the al Qaeda leader.

The author, Matt Bissonnette, who wrote under the pseudonym "Mark Owen," has denied that the book contained any information that could adversely affect national security.

The Defense Department has said the book contains classified information and that it is weighing its legal options.

In the interview, Panetta raised concerns the book contained "sensitive" details.

When pressed by the interviewer about using the word "sensitive" rather than "classified," Panetta said, "There's always fine lines here."

"We are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified, and what isn't, and where those lines are," he added.

(Reporting by Sarah Lynch; Editing by Peter Cooney)