The Business Litigation Blog

Will Ex-Navy Seal Face Lawsuit for Violating Non-Disclosure Pact?

“No Easy Day” written by former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette has already ignited a controversy. The book that narrates the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan might encourage the Defense Department at the Pentagon to consider legal action against the author.

According to the Defense Department, Bissonnette is in “material breach” and violation of the non-disclosure agreement that restricts him to disclose military secrets. While Bissonnette is not the first Navy SEAL to author a book, he failed to submit the manuscripts of the book to the Pentagon for a pre-publication review. Non-disclosure agreements not to divulge classified information are a standard requirement that Navy SEALs and other military members are required to sign. Bissonnette signed two agreements in 2007. Since the release of the book, officials are now saying that Bissonnette revealed too many details about the raid that captured Bin Laden and it is alleged that he violated his non-disclosure pact.

The difficulty is defining exactly what classified information is. The risk is that Bissonnette is revealing too much information about our military tactics that might end up in the hands of our enemies. Specifically, the book self-servingly puts other and future members of the military at risk for Bissonnette’s personal financial gain. 

Taking a legal action on one hand can lead Bissonnette to criminal prosecution and entitle U.S. government to all the book royalties. That said, the military very rarely brings civil suits against individuals for failing to do pre-publication review. On the contrary, the distribution of the book may lead to increased breach and violation of agreement. Moreover, prosecution against a war hero involved in such a critical mission might also lead to political disturbances, making it a tough call for the Pentagon and the government.

For more information on breach of contract or this possible case, click here.

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