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Panetta: Former SEAL's book on bin Laden raid jeopardizes operations; writer should be punished

The tell-all book by a former Navy SEAL on the Osama bin Laden raid raises questions as to whether there ever was a plan other than executing the terrorist leader on sight. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said revelations in a book written by a retired Navy SEAL on the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden could put future operations in jeopardy and suggested that the writer should be punished for writing the best-seller. 

In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, Panetta was asked if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted. "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior," Panetta said.

Panetta was referring to "No Easy Day," the newly published account of the raid that led to bin Laden's killing in May 2011 in Pakistan. The book was written by a retired SEAL under the pseudonym of Mark 0wen. The author has denied the book contained any information that could adversely affect national security.

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Panetta said that if the Defense Department failed to take any action in response to the book, "then everybody else who pledges to ensure that that doesn't happen is going to get the long signal, that somehow they can do it without any penalty to be paid." 

Asked if the revelations could put future such operations at risk, Panetta said, "I think when someone who signs an obligation that he will not reveal the secrets of this kind of operation, and then does that and doesn't abide by the rules, that when he reveals that kind of information, it does indeed jeopardize operations and the lives of others that are involved in those operations."

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The secretary stopped short of accusing the author of revealing classified information, but said Pentagon officials "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified and what isn't, and where those lines are."

Panetta said the book, which went on sale this week, raises troubling national security questions. The book is the top seller on online retailer Amazon.com.

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"Well, I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, it tells our enemies, essentially, how we operate and what we do to go after them," he said.

Last week, the commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command sent a letter to members of the special operations community warning them to stop releasing details about their secretive world.

"We do NOT advertise the nature of our work, NOR do we seek recognition for our actions," wrote the commander, Rear Adm.Sean Pybus wrote.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube contributed to this report.

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