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Ex-Navy SEAL sought advice before publishing book about bin Laden raid, lawyer says

A retired Navy SEAL could face legal action for his upcoming book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Pentagon is threatening to file criminal charges against the man who wrote the book, "No Easy Day," under a pseudonym. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET -- The lawyer for "Mark Owen" -- the pen name of the former Navy SEAL who wrote "No Easy Day," a book describing the Osama bin Laden raid -- on Friday said that Owen did, indeed, seek legal advice before publishing the book and he disputed other claims made by Pentagon.

"Mr. Owen sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk," Robert Luskin wrote in a letter addressed to Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson. "He remains confident that he has faithfully fulfilled his duty."

Furthermore, Luskin said a non-disclosure agreement Owen signed -- which the Pentagon claimed he was "in material breach" of -- doesn't require Owen to submit his book for review. "As you are well aware, the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement, which you attached in your letter, invites, but by no means requires Mr. Owen to submit materials for pre-publication review," the letter said.


A Pentagon spokesperson on Friday said it is unclear if the book actually contains damaging classified information. "I'm not going to say whether the book has classified information in it," spokesperson George Little told reporters.

On Thursday, Johnson said in a letter that Owen is in violation of the non-disclosure agreement. 

Related: Ex-Navy SEAL: Book about 9/11, not politics

The letter, sent via the attorney at Penguin Putnam publishing, explained that Owen signed two separate non-disclosure agreements on Jan. 24, 2007, and that he has an obligation to "never divulge" classified information.

"This commitment remains in force even after you left the active duty Navy," Johnson wrote.

Pentagon's top lawyers reminded the ex-Navy SEAL who authored the tell-all on the bin Laden raid that they are considering legal action against him for publishing "classified" information. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

He also signed a "Sensitive Compartmented Information Debriefing Memorandum" when he left the Navy around April 20, 2012, according to the letter.

"The Department of Defense has obtained and reviewed an advanced copy of the book ... In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed," the letter said. "Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.

"The Department is considering pursuing against you, and all those acting in concert with you, all remedies legally available to us in light of this situation."

A senior Defense official on Thursday said, "There has to be consequences" for someone who violates the non-disclosure agreements prohibiting the release of classified information.

The official also suggested that by revealing "tactics, techniques and procedures" employed by the Navy SEALs during the raid, "it could put other operators at risk and future operations in jeopardy."

"No Easy Day," written by a former Navy SEAL who helped take down Osama bin Laden, claims the al-Qaida leader did not defend himself during the raid. The book will become available on Sept. 4, earlier than the anticipated Sept. 11 release date. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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