Pentagon issues rules on how to discuss SEAL’s book

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The Pentagon’s top intelligence official has issued guidance on how to read and discuss “No Easy Day,” a former Navy SEAL’s unauthorized account of the raid that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Pentagon employees may buy “No Easy Day,” but have to be guarded with whom they discuss the book’s contents.

“On 04 September 2012, the assistant secretary defense for public affairs noted that the Department believes the recently published book ‘No Easy Day’ (NED) contains classified and sensitive unclassified information,” begins the guidance, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Times. “As has been reported in the press, the author did not submit this book for pre-publication review that is required by non-disclosure agreements he signed.”

The Sept. 20 memo is titled “Official DoD Guidance Concerning the Book, ‘No Easy Day.’”

It is signed by Timothy A. Davis, director of security for the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Michael Vickers.

The Pentagon has accused author Matt Bissonnette, one of the leaders of the May 2011 SEAL mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan, of divulging classified information. Some officials have threatened him with criminal prosecution. His lawyer denies the charge.

The security memo sets out five guidelines.

Employees may buy the book and do not have to store it in special containers for classified information.

Workers “shall not discuss potentially classified and sensitive unclassified information with persons who do not have an official need to know and an appropriate security clearance.”

People with first-hand knowledge of the raid “shall not publicly speculate or discuss potentially classified or sensitive unclassified information outside official U.S. Government channels.”

And, finally, employees “are prohibited from using unclassified government computer systems to discuss potentially classified or sensitive contents of NED, and must not engage in online discussions via social networking or media sites regarding potentially classified or sensitive unclassified information that may be contained in NED.”

Supporters of Mr. Bissonnette say that, well before the book was published earlier this month, the Obama administration leaked rich details of the mission to reporters, book authors and at least one filmmaker.

Mr. Obama has made bin Laden’s killing a focal point of his re-election campaign.

In other matters, the Pentagon announced Tuesday new initiatives aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual assault within the ranks.

The Pentagon directed the services to improve sexual assault prevention training for commanders and senior enlisted members, report progress to the defense secretary by Dec. 20, and implement changes by March 30.
The services also were directed to review basic training practices, including how instructors are selected and trained, instructor-to-student ratios and the addition of more female instructors.

The Pentagon also ordered the services to review oversight of sexual assault prevention measures and report to the defense secretary by Feb. 8 recommendations and findings in that area and in basic training.

“While we have put many new policies in place to address sexual assault and its impact on the victim, recent events at Lackland Air Force Base make clear that we still have more work to do,” Defense secretary Leon E. Panetta said Tuesday in a memo to the military services, referring to the revelation in June that training instructors at Lackland had sexually harassed and assaulted trainees.

The Defense Department’s move is based on a nine-month review of sexual assault prevention training in the military. According to a Pentagon briefing in April, there were 3,192 reports of sexual assaults in the ranks in 2011.

Kristina Wong contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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