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)

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Comments (6)
wilfar wrote:
Let’s not jump on this Navy Seal. He was there and he has a story to tell. We want to hear his tale. The Pentagon is not in the editing business unless there are bona fide classified information problems. If that’s the case why haven’t they shut down the sale of the book and been more aggressive in dealing with this matter? These Seals are our Alpha Dogs and we need them. Whenever there is a need these troops are in the thick of it. I suggest some long thought and consideration by the Pentagon before they do damage to one of the best of the best.

Sep 10, 2012 10:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
edgyinchina wrote:
As soon as this story broke about the SEAL coming out with a book, I knew that the Def. Dept. would go after him… Mark the time…. 5 will get you 8 that they prosecute this guy for some obscure security violation…. They can’t have their soldiers disobeying orders, and they’ll bring the hammer on this guy….

Sep 10, 2012 11:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeGK wrote:
Wilfar,

I don’t think you quite understand what the issue is here. “Mark Owen”, like all others in the trade, has signed a contract to the effect that he will not reveal any specifics about these operations. Any and all written doc’s about these will also be submitted to DOD for review before publishing. It is not his decision. It is his superior officers decision.

The other is the public’s “need to know”, they don’t. OBL is down, permanently. That’s it.

With his short sightedness, he’s also put his team mates, his family, his extended family (sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc.) in jeopardy.

I’ve read the book. There are some small errors. Other than the mission being classified, there is not one item that can’t be found in print else where.

Sep 10, 2012 11:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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