The Washington Post

Pentagon: Employees can read SEAL book — carefully


There has been much consternation at the Pentagon over how to deal with former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette’s new book, “No Easy Day,” which recounts SEAL Team 6’s elimination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

The Defense Department is most unhappy, saying the book reveals classified information — though it hasn’t said what that information is. (Publisher Dutton Books has said there’s nothing classified in it.)

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

The Pentagon has taken no formal action against the author but did notify him on Aug. 30 that he was “in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements he’d signed,” and that he never submitted the manuscript for a security review. It warned him the government was considering “all [legal] remedies.”

But the book has been a runaway bestseller, and folks at the Defense Department want to read it if it’s okay to do so.

Well, we’re happy to say that you can buy it and read it, though you must be careful.

‘No Easy Day’ on display at a bookstore in Washington, D.C. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

According to a Sept. 20 memo we got from Defense Department security director Timothy Davis, department spokesman George Little said recently that the book “contains classified and sensitive unclassified information.”

So “in response to requests for guidance,” Davis wrote a memo providing official guidance about “No Easy Day,” or “NED.”

According to the memo, Defense Department personnel:

●“are free to purchase NED.”

●“are not required to store NED in [secure] containers . . . unless classified statements in the book have been identified.”

●“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.”

●“who possess either firsthand knowledge of, or suspect information within NED to be classified or sensitive, shall not publicly speculate or discuss potentially classified or sensitive unclassified information outside official . . . channels.”

●“are prohibited from using unclassified government computer systems to discuss potentially classified or sensitive contents of NED, and [no] online discussions via social networking or media sites” about classified stuff “that may be contained in NED.”

Hard to say what the “potentially” classified stuff is. So until they tell you what the bad stuff is, it’s safe to buy the book and even read it, but no underlining and no discussing — beyond “cool book,” “great cover,” stuff like that.

Self-serve souvenirs

Times are tough in this mean city, and even Capitol Hill isn’t immune.

There’s a crime wave of sorts plaguing congressional offices, and the goods being lifted aren’t the typical flat-screen TVs or computers one might expect, but rather congressional memorabilia and other tchotchkes — which are far more difficult to fence at the neighborhood pawn shop.

The most recent hit took place over the weekend, in the office of Rep. Elton Gallegly . Thieves made off with the California Republican’s prized collection of license plates. He told Roll Call he’d spent 26 years amassing them and had planned to pass them down to his children.

Vanished, too, was anything in his desk bearing a congressional logo. (Hey, crooks, you can get some of that stuff in the gift shops!)

The heist follows several others earlier this year. Bandits stole a scarf from Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) and a collection of Easter eggs signed by first ladies from Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Roll Call reports.

The burglaries seem clustered in the Rayburn House Office Building, and the lack of smashed windows or broken locks suggests an inside job. Capitol police say they’re on the case.

Just 231 miles away

Parking in Manhattan can be a real nightmare. So what’s a guy on his way to an important meeting to do?

Well, if you’re Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the appointment is at the United Nations — and your ride is a Boeing 747 — you just leave the dang thing in Washington, at Joint Base Andrews.

Such was the case on Wednesday, when the dictator left his jet, emblazoned with “Iran Air,” at Andrews. On the scene was none other than President Obama. Our colleague Amy Gardner reports that the president “taxied past the Iranian jet on his way to two campaign events in Ohio.” Alas, a White House spokesman said later that he didn’t think the president had caught sight of the plane as he passed it.

An Andrews spokeswoman tells Gardner that such parking arrangements are not uncommon for foreign heads of state visiting U.S. soil.

And in another clear advantage over pricey Gotham garage space, the parking at Andrews is free.

With Emily Heil

The blog: Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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