Saturday, Jun 25, 2016
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EDITORIAL

Rogue account

A new author can be nervous about how his or her first book will be received. Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote an inside account of the killing of the world's most notorious terrorist, is finding his biggest critics weighing in from a powerful perch: the Pentagon.

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden will be released by Dutton on Tuesday with the author's pen name of Mark Owen. Mr. Bissonnette did not submit his book manuscript for clearance by the Defense Department.

The Pentagon says the book could include classified information. Publishing it, defense officials say, violates a non-disclosure agreement Mr. Bissonnette signed when he became a SEAL.

His story appears to be at odds with the government account of bin Laden's capture and execution. The Pentagon says the book sheds unwanted light on how it conducts secret military operations.

Mr. Bissonnette's lawyer said the author had the option of submitting his manuscript for review, but that it wasn't required by law. The author claims he hired a former special-operations lawyer to vet the manuscript before publishing it, but that doesn't answer why he didn't let the Pentagon see it too.

Mr. Bissonnette no doubt feared the Defense Department would have objected to some of what he had written and would have held up publication. But that doesn't excuse violating the pledge he signed when he became a Navy SEAL.

Although Dutton says the author will donate "the majority" of the book's proceeds to military charities, the Navy SEAL Foundation says it will not accept any of that money.

There is no way to tell whether Mr. Bissonnette's version is more accurate than the Pentagon's. Vanity may outweigh the vow he made to the nation to keep his mouth shut.

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