Best Defense

‘No Easy Day’: Bad precedent being set?

I’ve been reading No Easy Day, which I find a well-done but fairly typical tale by a Navy SEAL who by luck and hard work happened to be in on the bin Laden kill. What worries me is all the talk of pre-publication review by the Pentagon. I know CIA does that sort of thing, ...

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I’ve been reading No Easy Day, which I find a well-done but fairly typical tale by a Navy SEAL who by luck and hard work happened to be in on the bin Laden kill.

What worries me is all the talk of pre-publication review by the Pentagon. I know CIA does that sort of thing, but I don’t remember the military doing it much. I read all the books by guys like Hugh Shelton, Tommy R. Franks, and David Crist, and I don’t recall much talk of the Defense Department getting to peek at the books first. I mean, I doubt that Eisenhower submitted Crusade in Europe to some lawyer at the Pentagon before it went to press.

So I think it would be a bad thing if people came to expect some sort of right of the military to review memoirs. I suspect that a lot of the criticism of the book is being provoked not by legal concerns but by anger among SEALs and the like that the author violated the cultural code of the Special Ops community and blabbed. 

Necessary disclosure: My books are published by Penguin Press, which is under the same corporate umbrella as Dutton, which published No Easy Day.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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