AP sources: Navy SEALs punished for secrets breach

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012
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SEALs, including some of those involved in the bin Laden raid of May 2011, have been uncharacteristically prominent in the news this year.

Matt Bissonnette, who participated in the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but later retired from the SEALs, wrote a firsthand account under the pseudonym Mark Owen, but he landed in hot water with the Pentagon even before it was published in September. The Pentagon accused him of disclosing classified information in violation of the nondisclosure agreements he had signed as a SEAL. He disputes the charge.

The SEAL mission to capture or kill bin Laden, while stunningly successful, encountered a number of unexpected obstacles, including the loss of a stealth helicopter that was partially blown up by the SEALs after making a hard landing inside bin Laden's compound.

The head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, responded to the Bissonnette book by telling his force that "hawking details about a mission" and selling other information about SEAL training and operations puts the force and their families at risk.

SEALs, both active duty and retired, possess highly sensitive information about tactics and techniques that are central to the success of their secret and often dangerous missions overseas. That is why they are obliged to sign nondisclosure agreements when they enter service and when they leave, and it is why the Pentagon seeks to enforce such written agreements.

The punishments were first reported by CBS News.

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AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.