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“Pre-release copies of the book were already being circulated around,” Little said. “So the practical effect of requesting that the publisher withhold release of the book just wasn’t an available option.”

He added that the Pentagon also has not taken steps to stop the book from being sold on military installations. It’s not the Pentagon’s practice, Little said, “to get into the business of deciding what and what does not go on bookshelves in military exchanges. But that doesn’t mean in any way, shape or form that we don’t have serious concerns about the fact that this process of pre-publication review was not followed.”

The book, which was published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), was No. 1 on Amazon’s best seller list Tuesday, which was its official release day. The initial print run was 575,000 copies and publication of the book was moved up from Sept. 11 to Sept. 4 amid a flurry of reports about the book last week.

Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, notified Bissonnette last Thursday that the Pentagon believes he is in “material breach and violation” of two nondisclosure agreements and of a related document he signed upon leaving active duty in April 2012.

In response, Robert D. Luskin of the law firm Patton Boggs wrote to Johnson on Friday that his firm is representing Bissonnette and asserting that he is not in breach of his nondisclosure agreements.

The Justice Department could go after the profits of the book in a civil proceeding if it is determined that he violated the nondisclosure agreement by not getting the book pre-cleared.

Associated Press national security writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.