Panetta Hints at Punishment for Bin Laden Book Author

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 11 2012 11:26 AM

Defense Secretary Panetta Blasts ex-SEAL who Wrote Bin Laden Book, Hints at Punishment

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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta didn’t quite say he should be prosecuted, but he sure came close. Either way, he made no effort to hide the fact that he’s angry at the retired Nacy SEAL who wrote a book, under the pseudonym Mark Owen, giving his account of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The media later identified the author as Matt Bissonnette.

Asked on CBS News whether the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta didn’t answer the question directly: “I think we have to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior.” Panetta also pointed out that if the Defense Department failed to take action, “then everybody else who pledges to ensure that that doesn't happen is gonna get the long signal, that somehow they can do it without any penalty to be paid,” reports the Associated Press.

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Speaking with CBS’ Norah O’Donnell, Panetta recognized the American people “have a right to know about this operation” but he also emphasized that those who participated in the operation vowed to stay silent on sensitive details, “and we have got to make sure that they stand by the promise that they made to this country.” He added that “there’s always fine lines” in trying to distinguish between what is sensitive and what is classified and said the Pentagon is currently reviewing the material to figure out what kind of information the book contains.

The book not only compromises U.S. security by telling “our enemies essentially how we operate” the author could also be putting himself at personal risk of retaliation. No Easy Day went on sale this week.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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