Washington: The US special operations chief has warned his troops, current and former, that he would take legal action against anyone found to have exposed sensitive information that could cause fellow forces harm.
The threat comes as a new book with a firsthand account of the deadly raid on Osama bin Laden appears next month. "We will pursue every option available to hold members accountable, including criminal prosecution where appropriate," Adm. Bill McRaven wrote in an open, unclassified letter emailed to the active-duty special operations community on Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.
A retired Navy commando has revealed he is publishing a firsthand account of the raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan a little more than a year ago.
The threat comes as a new book with a firsthand account of the deadly raid on Osama bin Laden appears next month.
Pentagon officials say they have not been given a chance to review the book, "No Easy Day," which comes out on September 11, the anniversary of the 2001 attacks.
The warning to troops also follows a media campaign by special operations veterans decrying alleged leaks by President Barack Obama's administration of secret operations and criticizing Obama's highlighting the bin Laden raid as part of his reelection campaign.
McRaven also took former special operators to task for "using their 'celebrity' status to advance their personal or professional agendas."
He acknowledged that former service members are "well within their rights to advocate for certain causes or write books about their adventures," but he cautioned against claiming to speak for all special operations troops and endangering troops by what they write.
The author of the bin Laden raid book, listed under the pseudonym of Mark Owen, was identified Thursday by Fox News as Matt Bissonnette, who retired from the Navy last summer.
One current and one former US military official confirmed the name, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss military personnel matters. Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint, the publisher, asked news organizations yesterday to withhold his identity.
"Sharing the true story of his personal experience in 'No Easy Day' is a courageous act in the face of obvious risks to his personal security," Dutton spokeswoman Christine Ball said in a statement. "That personal security is the sole reason the book is being published under a pseudonym."
Bissonnette changed the names of the other SEALs in the account, the publisher says. Efforts to locate Bissonnette for comment were unsuccessful.