‘No Easy Day’: To Sell or Not to Sell — An Easy Decision (UPDATE: Not So)
In surprising developments and reversing earlier Pentagon statements that there were no plans to withhold sale of the book in military exchanges, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service announced last Friday that “No Easy Day” will not be sold in exchanges on Army or Air Force bases.
“Due to its unique mission and customer base, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is not stocking ‘No Easy Day,’” Judd Anstey, public relations manager for AAFES, wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes, “Due to its unique mission and customer base, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is not stocking ‘No Easy Day,’” and that AAFES had made the decision because of the statements earlier this week by Pentagon press secretary George Little that “sensitive and classified information is contained in the book.”
On Monday, representatives from the Navy and Marine Corps exchange services announced that the book will not be sold in exchanges on Navy and Marine Corps bases.
“The Navy Exchange does not intend to sell the book “No Easy Day” since it is believed the book contains potentially classified or sensitive information,” Navy Exchange spokeswoman Kathleen Martin wrote in an email Monday.
Bryan Driver, a Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division spokesman, said the decision was based on the same reasoning AAFES used. A spokesman for that agency said the Pentagon assertion that the book, which detailed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, had revealed official secrets was enough reason not to stock it.
“We consider the determinations and statements made thus far by DOD to be authoritative,” AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said Friday. “The Exchange cannot risk taking part in a future dissemination of potentially classified information.”
Last week, The Navy SEAL Foundation, a charity that might have benefitted from the sales of the book, announced that it would not accept any donations generated by “No Easy Day.” The author had promised to donate most of his earnings to charity. The Stripes:
In a statement posted on its website, the Navy SEAL Foundation said it “is committed to providing immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families. With this principled mission in mind, the Foundation will not be accepting any donations that are generated from the book or any related activities.”
While I have my own thoughts about the publication of the book “No Easy Day” written by a former SEAL, the Pentagon has its own thoughts, too.
Defense Department officials continue to weigh their legal options against the author who may have revealed classified information that could jeopardize the safety of military members in future operations.
On Aug. 30, the Defense Department sent an advisory letter of material breach and nondisclosure violation to the author, who used the pen name Mark Owen to write the book.
According to American Forces Press Service:
“When it comes to sensitive special operations missions such as the [one] that took down Osama bin Laden, it is important that those … involved in such operations take care to protect sensitive and classified information,” [Pentagon Press Secretary George] Little said. “And if I had been part of the raid team on the ground and I had decided to write a book about it, it wouldn’t have been a tough decision for me to submit the book for prepublication review. That is common sense. It’s a no-brainer, and it did not happen.”
Regardless, the “cat is out of the bag” now. “No Easy Day” is being sold everywhere and is apparently outselling “Fifty Shades of Gray.”
An interesting issue, however, was whether sales of the book would be permitted in military exchanges.
On Tuesday, Little said that although Pentagon officials are unwavering in their concerns about sensitive and classified information that they believe the book contains, no plans have been put in place to withhold sale of the book in military exchanges or to the public.
American Forces Press Service:
“There’s been no directive from this department to withhold sale of the book from military exchanges. … [The] book is being made widely available in bookstores and online,” Little said.
The Defense Department typically is not in the business of policing what goes on bookshelves, Little said. Rather, he added, it simply wants to protect classified information, as all current and former DOD employees have a “solemn obligation” to do.