US officials checking SEAL raid book for secrets

August 27, 2012 - 3:50 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials said Monday that they are reviewing a copy of a soon-to-be-published account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, checking for leaks of classified information.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Defense Department officials "received the manuscript and we are looking at it."

CIA spokesman Preston Golson would only say that "the CIA has a copy of the book."

The book, "No Easy Day," is scheduled for publication on Sept. 11.

The author, a former Navy SEAL who participated in the raid, did not submit the book for pre-publication review that is required by the military secrecy agreements officials say he signed.

Pentagon regulations stipulate that retired personnel, former employees and non-active duty members of the Reserves "shall use the DoD security review process to ensure that information they submit for public release does not compromise national security."

Pentagon officials say that if they determine the manuscript reveals classified information about the raid, the Pentagon would "defer to the Department of Justice."

If there is classified information in the book, the former SEAL could face criminal charges.

The publisher says the author intends to give the "majority" of the proceeds to charity, but the Justice Department could still sue to collect any future book proceeds as well.

A special operations advocacy group, Special Operations-OPSEC, which is criticizing President Barack Obama over alleged leaks and making the raid the national security centerpiece of his re-election campaign, asked the attorney general to block the book's release until the government can make sure it reveals no classified information.

In a letter released to The Associated Press, the group asked the Justice Department "to immediately seek...an injunction in federal court to prevent this book from being published and distributed" until it can be reviewed.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd says the department is reviewing the letter.

Dutton announced the book's pending release last week, saying that "No Easy Day" will "set the record straight" on the bin Laden operation. The author is listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen, and the publisher had asked news organizations to withhold his identity. He has since been identified as Matt Bissonnette, who retired from the Navy last summer.

After the initial burst of publicity, the book shot up to the top of the Amazon.com chart, reaching No. 1 as of late Friday morning and remaining there Monday, displacing the million-selling erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of Gray."

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Dozier can be reached on Twitter (at)kimberlydozier.