Pentagon Tells Ex-SEAL He Could Face Legal Action Over Osama Bin Laden Raid Book, 'No Easy Day'

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Mystery SEAL, Who Could Settle Bin Laden Controversy, Won't
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Mystery SEAL, Who Could Settle Bin Laden Controversy, Won't (ABC News)

The Pentagon has determined the former Navy SEAL who has authored a book about his role in the Osama bin Laden raid is in "material breach" of non-disclosure agreements and warned him it is considering legal action against him as a result.

It added that it is considering legal action against all those "acting in concert" with the SEAL on his book, "No Easy Day," which is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

A letter by Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson informed the former SEAL that he had violated non-disclosure agreements against releasing classified information.

"In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the non-disclosure agreements you signed," wrote Johnson. "Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements."

Johnson said the department is considering pursuing "all remedies legally available to us."

The letter was addressed to the author's pseudonym, "Mark Owen," because the Pentagon will not publicly reveal the SEAL's real name.

The letter noted that, in January 2007, "Owen" signed two non-disclosure agreements with the Navy, and though he is no longer in the military, "you have a continuing obligation to 'never divulge' classified information."

Furthermore, the letter added, "this commitment remains in force even after you left the active duty Navy."

Johnson noted that in signing the agreements the SEAL, "acknowledged your awareness that disclosure of classified information constitutes a violation of federal criminal law. It also meant he would submit any manuscript to the Pentagon for a security review, as well as obtain permission."

Interest in the unreleased book has led to a surge in pre-orders and the book's publisher, Dutton, has boosted the number of books to be published.

"Owen" has almost exclusively spoken through his publisher and has previously said the book was written so that it did not betray any sensitive information. The publisher added that the book was vetted by a "former special operations attorney."

Though the former SEAL said he will donate a majority of the book's profits to charities that help the families of fallen SEALs, the letter suggested that all of the book's royalties belong to the U.S. government.

In signing his non-disclosure agreements, the former SEAL acknowledged he "assigned to the U.S. government ... 'all royalties, remunerations, and emoluments that have resulted, will result or may result from a disclosure, publication or revelation of classified information not consistent with the terms of this agreement,'" the letter added.

ABC News' Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

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