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Entries in No Easy Day (5)

Tuesday
Sep112012

Leon Panetta Blasts Ex-SEAL Who Wrote Bin Laden Raid Book

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta became the highest-ranking U.S. official to speak out against the former Navy SEAL who wrote a firsthand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, saying the commando broke his promise to America and could have given away secrets that "tipped off" the enemy.

"There's no question that the American people have a right to know about this operation. That's why the President spoke to the American people when that operation happened," Panetta said Tuesday on CBS' This Morning.  "But people who are part of that operation, who commit themselves to the promise that they will not reveal sensitive operations and not publish anything without bringing it through the Pentagon so we can ensure that it doesn't reveal sensitive information -- when they fail to do that, we have got to make sure that they stand by the promise they made to this country."

"I cannot, as Secretary, send a signal to SEALs who conduct these operations [that] you can conduct those operations and then go out and write a book about it or sell your story to The New York Times.  How the hell can we run sensitive operations here that go after enemies if people are allowed to do that?" he said.

The book No Easy Day is a first-person memoir written by a former SEAL Team Six member under the pseudonym Mark Owen that includes a detailed account of the May 2011 operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to get bin Laden.  According to the book, Owen was the second man in the room after bin Laden was shot and put a few bullets in the terror leader himself before taking the unreleased pictures of the dead al Qaeda leader.

The book follows Owen's rise through the Navy's ranks to elite SEAL Team Six and describes the various levels of training, walks through some on-the-ground operational tactics employed by the SEAL commandos and gives a minute-by-minute account of the bin Laden raid.  Owen left the service in April, less than a year after the mission, according to military records provided to ABC News.

Beyond writing under a pseudonym, Owen said he changed the names of other people involved in the operation, including a CIA analyst, to protect their identities and took pains not to reveal sensitive information. The book's publisher, Dutton, also said the memoir was vetted by a former special operations attorney to make sure Owen wasn't betraying any classified information.

But officials from the Pentagon to the CIA to the White House said they were not provided a copy of the book to review before publication.  In late August, the Pentagon wrote a letter to Owen in which it said it was considering legal action against him for breaking non-disclosure agreements, sparking a brief back-and-forth between the Pentagon and lawyers for Owen, who said he had not violated the agreements.

While Panetta declined to say whether or not he thought Owen should be prosecuted, he said the government has to "take steps to make clear that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."  Panetta said that leaking such information could "jeopardize other operations and the lives of others that are involved in those operations."

"I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, what that does is tell our enemies essentially how we operate and what we do to go after them.  And when you do that, you tip them off," he said.

No Easy Day was originally intended to be released Tuesday, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but the sale date was moved up after the book's existence leaked, causing a tidal wave of controversy and demand for the first-ever inside look at the historic raid.

Owen said he plans to give a majority of the proceeds from the book to charities that support the families of fallen SEALs, but at least one major SEAL charity, The Navy SEAL Foundation, already announced it would not be accepting donations from the book sales, citing Owen's possible legal troubles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep042012

Co-Author: 'Bad Blood' Didn't Cause Ex-SEAL to Pen Bin Laden Book

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A group of former special operations servicemen claims that the ex-Navy SEAL who penned his firsthand account of the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did so in part because he thought the Navy had mistreated him shortly before his departure from the teams -- an allegation the book's co-author denies.

The first-person account of the raid, called No Easy Day and written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, arrives on bookshelves on Tuesday -- a full week before its original intended release on the anniversary of Sept. 11.  The book's publisher, Dutton, claimed that the date was moved up both due to high demand in light of several high-profile news stories about the book and to quell controversy over whether the book revealed any classified information.  From the White House to the Pentagon and the CIA, no government officials had been given a chance to read the book for possible security breaches before its publication.

Owen was a decorated and long-serving SEAL who left the Navy in April, according to military records provided by the service.  A spokesperson for Dutton previously told ABC News that Owen left simply "because it was time."

But a new e-book written by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb with co-authors who had been members of the special operations community in other branches claims that Owen left the Navy on bad terms after he felt he was mistreated by the service.  Webb, founder of the special operations website SOFREP.com, told ABC News that he and his co-authors spoke to several active members of the special operations community for the e-book.

"Sources... say that [Owen] was treated very poorly upon his departure..." says the e-book, called No Easy Op and released Monday on Amazon.com.  The e-book claims Owen was asked to leave his SEAL Team Six group after he "openly shared with his teammates that he was considering getting out of the Navy to pursue other interests."

"How was he repaid for his honesty and fourteen years of service?  He was ostracized from his unit with no notice and handed a plane ticket back to Virginia from a training operation," the e-book says.  After his departure, the book says there was some "bad blood' between Owen and his former team that may have helped him decide to pen the book.

Dutton declined to comment on the claims, except to point to remarks made by the book's co-author, journalist Kevin Maurer, to the New York Times.

"After spending several very intense months working with Mark Owen on this book, I know that he wrote this book solely to share a story about the incredible men and women defending America all over the world," Maurer said.  "Any suggestion otherwise is as ill-informed as it is inaccurate."

The Navy directed questions concerning the "bad blood" allegations to the Department of Defense.  There, a spokesperson said the way in which Owen left the service is "irrelevant" to them.

"The Department is not interested in characterizing his departure," Lt. Col. Todd Brasseale said.  "We remain greatly appreciative of [Owen's] efforts while he was a SEAL, but he has been and remains in breach of his non-disclosure agreement... His demeanor when he left the service is irrelevant."

Over the weekend, Pentagon officials sent a letter to Owen in which they warned they were considering legal action against him for unauthorized disclosures in the book.  An attorney for Owen, Robert Luskin, responded to the letter, saying his client had not violated any non-disclosure agreement.

Owen's book No Easy Day provides a detailed first-person account of the bin Laden raid and at times contradicts the "official" version.

Owen said he was just behind the team's "point man" who unknowingly was the first to shoot the terror leader.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots.  BOP.  BOP," Owen writes.  "I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not.  The man disappeared into the room."

It wasn't until several SEAL Team Six members entered the room that Owen learned some of the first shots hit their mark and that bin Laden was the man bleeding and twitching on the ground with an apparent shot to the head.  Still, Owen and another SEAL pointed their laser sights at his chest and "fired several rounds."

"The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless," Owen writes.

Unlike the White House characterization that bin Laden had "resisted" before he was killed, Owen's account describes a scene in which the terror leader never appeared to have the chance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Lawyer: Navy SEAL Author Did Not Violate Non-Disclosure Agreements

John Moore/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- The attorney for the former Navy SEAL whose tell-all book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has led the Pentagon to consider taking legal action against him says the author did not violate non-disclosure agreements cited by the Pentagon as the reason for potential legal action.

On Thursday, the Defense Department's General Counsel Jeh Johnson sent a letter to the pseudonym "Mark Owen" notifying him the Pentagon was considering taking legal action against him because he was in "material breach" of non-disclosure agreements about the release of classified information. According to Johnson those agreements required him to "never divulge" classified information even if he is no longer on active duty.

In a response to Johnson's letter issued Friday, Robert Luskin, a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm Patton Boggs, said Owen did not violate the agreements he signed in 2007 and that he "takes seriously his obligations to the United States and to his former colleagues." He added, "They are as important to him as any mission he undertook while on active duty."

Luskin points out that Owen had sought legal advice prior to agreeing to publish his book, No Easy Day, 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."

The attorney said that one of the two non-disclosure agreements signed by Owen did not require the former SEAL to submit his work for pre-publication review. He said the other agreement, the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement, does require a pre-publication security review "under certain circumstances" limited to "specifically identified Special Access Programs."

In his response Luskin argues that the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement applies to Special Access Programs identified on the date it was signed. "Accordingly, it is difficult to understand how the matter that is the subject of Mr. Owen's book could conceivably be encompassed by the non-disclosure agreement that you have identified."

Luskin said Owen is proud of his service and "has earned the right to tell his story; his abiding interest is to ensure that he is permitted to tell it while recognizing the letter and spirit of the law and his contractual undertakings."

A Defense official who had reviewed Luskin's response told ABC News that the former SEAL's security clearance compelled him to seek pre-publication review and that the non-disclosure agreements pre-dating the bin Laden raid are still binding. This official points out that though one of the agreements requires pre-publication reviews by DOD "under certain circumstances," they are always required.

Earlier Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters the letter was sent to Owen because he had violated the non-disclosure agreements and not submitted his book to the Pentagon for pre-publication review. "We take our agreements very seriously," he said. "We are very concerned that this book did not go through the pre-publication review."

He also said that no determination has been made yet as to whether the book does contain secrets. Little said Johnson's letter indicates "there is potential disclosure. He is not rendering determination."

Johnson's letter also warned "further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements." Little did not identify what potential actions the Defense Department is considering and would not say if there are plans to halt the book's scheduled release next Tuesday.

Little said the "onus" was on the author to take unspecified action and that the letter "was not meant to be any kind of intimidation."

Though the former SEAL said he will donate a majority of the book's profits to charities that help the families of fallen SEALs, Johnson's letter suggested that all of the book's royalties belong to the U.S. government.

According to Johnson, in signing the non-disclosure agreements the SEAL acknowledged he "assigned to the U.S. government ... all royalties, remunerations, and emoluments that have resulted, will result or may result from a disclosure, publication or revelation of classified information not consistent with the terms of this agreement."

Luskin represented Karl Rove during the investigation into who "outed" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent and most recently represented Lance Armstrong during his legal fight with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Navy SEAL’s Bin Laden Book Now Coming Next Week

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The book that details a former Navy SEAL’s first-person account of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden will be released ahead of schedule, the book’s publisher said Tuesday, following widespread controversy over possible national security breaches.

The book, titled No Easy Day, was set to appear on bookshelves next month on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but will now make its public debut a week early on Sept. 4 so the book can go ahead and “speak for itself,” according to a statement from publisher Dutton, a division of the Penguin Group.

After news of the book’s existence was reported by The New York Times last week, Dutton and the book’s author, who goes by the pseudonym Mark Owen, found themselves at the center of a raging controversy over whether the book leaked information about the top-secret mission. Officials from the White House to the Department of Defense to the CIA said they were unaware of the book and had not reviewed it for possible leaks at the time of the first media reports.

A Department of Defense spokesperson said Monday the department had received a copy of the manuscript and had begun reviewing it for potential security issues.

On Tuesday the former SEAL Team Six member who wrote the book said through Dutton that he’s “proud” to have written his account for the public.

“My hope is that it gives my fellow Americans a glimpse into how much of an honor it is to serve our country,” Owen said. “It is written with respect for my fellow service members while adhering to my strict desire not to disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way.”

A Dutton spokesperson said last week that the book had been vetted by a former special operations attorney for “tactical, technical, and procedural information as well as information that could be considered classified by compilation and [the attorney] found it to be without risk to national security.”

The book’s publication comes as the special operations community, especially the SEALs, have risen to the forefront of a discussion over the controversial leaking of classified information. Following the May 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, the Obama administration came under harsh criticism from Republican lawmakers for allegedly leaking too much about the mission for political gain.

Most recently, a small group of former special operations and intelligence officials -- many with Republican ties -- published an online video called “Dishonorable Disclosures” in which they say the president was trying to take credit for bin Laden’s death from the SEALs on the ground. That video was later reportedly criticized by others in the military as “unprofessional” and “shameful.”

Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL and writer, told ABC News last week that Owen may be compromising one of America’s most elite and secretive commando groups, even if he used a pseudonym and changed the names of the other team members.

“Operational security is at play here regardless of whether or not any classified information has been disclosed in this memoir,” he said, noting that even innocuous details could be enough to put other team members at risk. “This is not a good day for SEAL Team Six. An individual has compromised their ethos and mantra that the deed is more important than the glory.”

Webb said his own memoir, The Red Circle, was also not vetted by the Department of Defense but said it did not disclose any classified information, and that any potentially sensitive details about events described in the book, which occurred approximately 10 years ago, were changed.

Another former SEAL, who is still active in the intelligence community, said everyone needs to wait and see what’s actually in the new book before passing judgment.

“It seems pretty quick, but at the same time, I don’ t know what he says in the book,” said the ex-SEAL, who requested not to be named for his own security. “This guy dedicated a majority of his life to the service of his country and he was on a historic mission. It’s his story to tell… It really comes down to what type of information he’s disclosing.”

Dutton said Owen plans to donate a majority of the proceeds from his book to charities that help the families of fallen Navy SEALs.

A White House-sanctioned Hollywood movie about the bin Laden raid is scheduled to be released in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug232012

SEAL’s Bin Laden Raid Book Stirs Controversy

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The former Navy SEAL who penned a firsthand account of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden did so without the permission of the U.S. government, officials said, and is now at the center of an ongoing controversy within the secretive special operations community over unauthorized disclosures.

The author of the book, who writes under the pseudonym Mark Owen, was a SEAL Team Six team leader during the mission that took out the al Qaeda leader and was “one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist leader’s hideout,” according to a statement from the book’s publisher, Dutton. The book, No Easy Day, is set to be released next month on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

But no U.S. officials – from the White House to the Department of Defense to the CIA – have reviewed the book’s account of the top secret mission for any possible breaches of national security, officials from the departments said.

The book’s announcement comes as the special operations community, especially the SEALs, have risen to the forefront of a discussion over the controversial leaking of classified information. Following the May 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, the Obama administration came under harsh criticism from Republican lawmakers for allegedly leaking too much about the mission for political gain.

Most recently, a small group of former special operations and intelligence officials — many with Republican ties — published an online video called “Dishonorable Disclosures” in which they say the president was trying to take credit for bin Laden’s death from the SEALs on the ground. That video was later reportedly criticized by others in the military as “unprofessional” and “shameful.”

Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL and writer, told ABC News that Owen may be compromising one of America’s most elite and secretive commando groups, even if he used a pseudonym and changed the names of the other team members.

“Operational security is at play here regardless of whether or not any classified information has been disclosed in this memoir,” he said, noting that even innocuous details could be enough to put other team members at risk. “This is not a good day for SEAL Team Six. An individual has compromised their ethos and mantra that the deed is more important than the glory.”

Webb said his own memoir, The Red Circle, was also not vetted by the Department of Defense but said it did not disclose any classified information, and that any potentially sensitive details about events described in the book, which occurred approximately 10 years ago, were changed.

Another former SEAL, who is still active in the intelligence community, said everyone needs to wait and see what’s actually in the new book before passing judgment.

“It seems pretty quick, but at the same time, I don’t know what he says in the book,” said the ex-SEAL, who requested not to be named for his own security. “This guy dedicated a majority of his life to the service of his country and he was on a historic mission. It’s his story to tell… It really comes down to what type of information he’s disclosing.”

Dutton said Owen plans to donate a majority of the proceeds from his book to charities that help the families of fallen Navy SEALs.

A White House-sanctioned Hollywood movie about the bin Laden raid is scheduled to be released in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio