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Former Navy SEAL member's book on Osama bin Laden raid sparks controversy

August 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new book claiming to tell the inside story of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound is generating a lot of controversy even before its release.

Questions are being raised over the timing of its publication and its content. The publisher is expecting "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden" to be a bestselling book and has already ordered 300,000 copies in hardcover.

The book is written by Mark Owen, a former member of U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six who is using a fake name for security reasons. He is expected to do primetime network interviews where viewers can't see his face or hear his real voice.

Publisher Dutton said the book provides a "blow by blow narrative of the assault," beginning with the helicopter crash up to the radio call confirming bin Laden's death. The publisher said the book was looked over by a former Special Operations attorney.

"He vetted it for tactical, technical and procedural information as well as information that could be considered classified," Christine Ball, a spokesperson for Dutton, said in a statement.

But the White House and the CIA said they never vetted the book for classified info.

"I haven't read the book and am unaware anyone in the department has reviewed it," said George Little, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Hal Kempfer served in Marine Reconnaissance, doing similar work to the SEALs. He said the author "goes against the code within Special Operations" by writing this book.

"He still signed a legal agreement that holds him accountable for the disclosure of classified information, and he could be criminally prosecuted," said Kempfer. "In fact, within Special Operations, they normally call themselves the quiet professionals. They are not braggers."

Some conservatives recently have criticized President Barack Obama for leaking too many details about the mission. A group called OPSEC launched a campaign against the president during his re-election campaign.

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow directed a film about the raid called "Zero Dark Thirty." Its release was pushed from October to December so as to not give a political advantage to the president. But this book is already being pre-sold on Amazon.com for about $18 and is set to hit store shelves on Sept. 11, during the heat of election season.

Federal prosecutors take the releasing of classified information very seriously. A former CIA analyst named John Kiriakou currently is facing criminal charges for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists in his book.


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