Navy SEAL's Lawyers Respond to Pentagon's Threat

After it was reported August 30 that the Pentagon general counsel was threatening legal action for violating nondisclosure agreements against Mark Owen and his publisher Penguin for No Easy Day, Owen's lawyers have responded with a letter maintaining that Owen did not violate any such agreement. The letter to the Pentagon's general counsel Jeh Charles Johnson, sent by attorney Robert D. Luskin, states:

"As you are well aware, the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement, which you attached to your letter, invites, but by no means requires Mr. Owen to submit materials for pre-publication review. Although the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement does require pre-publication security review under certain circumstances, that obligation is expressly limited to specifically identified Special Access Programs. That agreement was executed in January 2007, and the Special Access Programs to which it applies were identified on that date. 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."

Government officials asked to see a copy of No Easy Day to ensure that no classified information or names of other team members were included. The letter from Luskin states that Owen "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 publishes on September 4 with a print run of 575,000 copies.

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