WASHINGTON (AP) The Pentagon is considering legal action against a former Navy SEAL whose book describes insider details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but it has not made a final judgment on whether the book actually reveals secrets, a spokesman said Friday.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said the author, Matt Bissonnette, was deemed to be in violation of two nondisclosure agreements that he signed in 2007 by failing to submit the book for an official security review before it was published. Bissonnette's lawyer on Friday disputed this, saying he believes the decorated former SEAL has "earned the right to tell his story."
Little would not say what legal options the Pentagon is considering or when it might take action.
"I write to formally advise you of your material breach and violation of your agreements, and to inform you that the 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," Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, wrote in a letter faxed to the author Thursday through his publisher.
In response, Robert D. Luskin of the law firm Patton Boggs wrote to Johnson on Friday that his firm is representing Bissonnette and asserting that he is not in breach of his nondisclosure agreements.
Luskin 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."
Little suggested that if Bissonnette were to stop the book's official release, scheduled for next week, that might be a remedy. Some advance copies have been circulating, and the Pentagon obtained one last week. It has since been reviewing it for any classified information and to determine what, if any, legal action should be taken, Little said.
"The onus is on the author," Little said, while declining to spell out what the author must do.
Little declined to describe the Pentagon's assessment of the contents of the book, but he later said it had not reached "any final conclusions" about whether secrets were revealed.
The Pentagon's position was presented by Johnson in a letter transmitted to the author through his New York publisher, Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint.