Robert Luskin, an attorney representing the author with the pen name Mark Owen, said his client “has faithfully fulfilled his duty” and didn’t violate any non-disclosure agreements with the Pentagon, reported Xinhua.
Luskin was responding to a letter from Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson, saying that the former commando “sought legal advice 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”.
Johnson’s letter, sent to Owen Thursday on behalf of the Pentagon, threatens legal action over violating a nondisclosure agreement after the Pentagon obtained and reviewed an advanced copy of the book “No Easy Day”.
Owen signed a non-disclosure agreement in 2007 when he was on active duty and another one following his departure from the Navy in April 2012.
The documents require him not to divulge classified information even upon leaving active duty, according to Johnson’s letter.
“Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements,” it said.
The letter was intended to put on record “our very serious concerns about what we believe was a material breach of the non-disclosure agreement”, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Friday.
The Pentagon was “weighing its options”, in terms of what legal actions it will pursue, since Owen forwent pre-publication review with the department before publishing his book, Little said.
“But he 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,” Luskin wrote.
The release of the book was initially scheduled to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, but later moved up to Sep 4 after pre-orders pushed the book to top Amazon’s best-sellers list.
A spokesperson for the publisher, Penguin Group (USA), said in a statement Friday it would not change its plan to begin public sales next week despite the Pentagon’s warning.
In early reports on the book, Owen’s book revealed details of the raid killing bin Laden contradicting the accounts from the Obama administration.