"Pipe Down" – Legal threats to the active and retired

Editor’s Note – With all the furor over the “Dishonorable Disclosures” video created by OPSECteam.org, a new book is due for release on September 11, 2012 that purports to tell the inside story of the Osama bin Laden raid. We do not know the tenor of the book but leaks of classified material have really caused a lot of harm to date, and Americans of all stripes are ‘piping hot’ mad, especially over the politicization of the events.

Now this book is raising a lot of eye brows because contents were not vetted by the Pentagon, which is a required procedure. Penguine Group, the publisher has/had an obligation to submit the transcripts to the Department of Defense for approval.

What else can, or perhaps should be said is, the author, writing under a pseudonym until some in the media revealed his identity, which SUA will not, has likely taken a hit for the team. A possible effort to reveal some real truths of the Osama bin Laden event, perhaps as a countermeasure to the “Zero Dark 30” movie being released this Fall that gives glory to the White House.

From Yahoo News:

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 Pentagon is awaiting a copy of the book to determine if it does contain material not suitable for publication. It appears they will likely find a lot to be concerned over, but we cannot know that at this time.

Leaks have already been many, and the determination of who leaked them is unknown, but the White House has been implicated. In response to these leaks and the political picture it painted, many retired CIA Agents, Navy Seals, and military command staff produced the video mentioned above. Naturally, there is a lot of consternation and many negative responses by supporters of the President, and by the President himself.

Recently, the man who made the real “gutsy call“, Admiral William McRaven, was refferred to as a General by President Obama about his ‘reverence’ for the Special Operations troops after being questioned about the OPSEC video: 

… Obama’s slip in an interview with KSDK in St Louis, Missouri when he was asked about the new 22-minute film ‘Dishonorable Disclosures’ by a group of former Special Forces troops and intelligence operatives.

‘I won’t take this film too seriously,’ he responded. ‘I gather that one of the producers is a birther who still doesn’t think I was born in this country.

[…]

‘I’d advise that you talk to General McRaven, who’s in charge of our Special Ops. I think he has a point of view in terms of how deeply I care about what these folks do each and every day to protect our freedom.’

The difficulty with this is that William McRaven is and admiral not a general. As a SEAL, he is member of the US Navy, not US Army or US Marines.

For servicemen, ranks are important – they have worked hard and, in many cases, risked their lives, to earn them. And it’s one thing to omit a rank and another to botch the rank of the highest-ranking Special Forces operator in the country. (Read the rest here.)

Despite that error, Admiral McRaven is showing leadership, much as he so well managed the bin Laden raid, by telling his troops to “pipe down” and threatening legal action.

SUA is not sure of the scope, but the Pentagon is threatening legal action if secrets were revealed in the new book, but this may also be a veiled threat to others:

McRaven tells troops to pipe down

Special operations chief Adm. Bill McRaven warned his troops, current and former, that he would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause fellow forces harm.

By KIMBERLY DOZIER – AP Intelligence Writer – in the Seattle Times

Special operations chief Adm. Bill McRaven warned his troops, current and former, that he would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause fellow forces harm.

Admiral William McRaven

“We will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate,” the four-star commander wrote, in an open, unclassified letter emailed to the active-duty special operations community Thursday, and obtained by The Associated Press.

The warning came a day after a retired Navy commando revealed he is publishing a first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Pentagon officials say they have not been given a chance to review the book, but Pentagon spokesman George Little said Friday officials expect to receive a copy “very shortly.”

Little said the Pentagon will decide whether to take any action against the author once officials review the book’s contents to determine whether it includes classified information. He said the Department of Justice would have the lead role if any legal action were to be taken.

It also follows a media campaign by special operations veterans, decrying alleged leaks by President Barack Obama’s administration of secret operations, and criticizing Obama’s highlighting the raid as part of his reelection campaign.

McRaven also took former special operators to task for “using their `celebrity’ status to advance their personal or professional agendas.”

He acknowledged that former service members are “well within their rights to advocate for certain causes or write books about their adventures,” but he cautioned them against claiming to speak for all special operations troops and against endangering troops by what they write.

News broke Wednesday that one of the SEALs McRaven commanded on the bin Laden raid would be releasing his book, “No Easy Day,” on Sept. 11, with the author listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen.

The author was identified Thursday by Fox News as Matt Bissonnette, who left the Navy last summer.

One current and one former U.S. military official confirmed the name, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss military personnel matters.

Penguin Group (USA)’s Dutton imprint, the publisher, asked news organizations Thursday to withhold his identity.

“Sharing the true story of his personal experience in `No Easy Day’ is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security,” Dutton spokeswoman Christine Ball said in a statement. “That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym.”

Bissonnette also changed the names of the other SEALs in the account, the publisher says.

Al-Qaida sympathizers posted photos of Bissonnette on jihadist web forums and called for his killing in retaliation for bin Laden’s death.

“First picture of one of the dogs who killed the martyr Sheik Osama bin Laden,” reads one posting, with a photo that has circulated in Western media said to be Bissonette, crouching with an automatic weapon. “We ask almighty God to destroy him sooner or later,” it reads.

The posting Friday was by a militant sympathizer who goes by the username “The Sniper of the Arabian Peninsula,” who often posts on such websites but whose identity is not known.

Efforts to locate Bissonnette for comment were unsuccessful.

McRaven’s plea for discretion comes as a number of special operators publish memoirs or appear in the media.

Best seller “American Sniper,” was published this year by former SEAL Chris Kyle, detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009.

Many of the special operations advocacy groups that are critical of Obama also openly identify members. One of the groups is run by retired Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke, who touts his time years ago at SEAL Team 6, the top secret unit that carried out the bin Laden raid.

Even Special Operations Command made an exception to its normal reticence with the media when it signed off on this year’s movie “Act of Valor,” which followed active duty SEALs carrying out training exercises that were turned into what looked like real action scenes for the film.

McRaven wrote that there was a difference between “Act of Valor”, which was approved by the command as a recruiting tool, and some of the other recent publications.

“There is, in my opinion, a distinct line between recounting a story for…education or entertainment and telling a story that exposes sensitive activities just to garner greater readership and personal profit,” he wrote.

The author of “No Easy Day” is slated to appear on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” on Sept. 9th.

Expecting a major best-seller, Dutton has already increased the initial print run of 300,000 copies to 400,000 copies. “No Easy Day” was No. 1 on Amazon.com as of late Friday morning, displacing the million-selling erotic trilogy “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

The publisher says the author will be donating the majority of the proceeds from the book to charities.

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Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report. AP writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report from New York, and AP writer Lee Keath contributed to this report from Cairo.