The Pentagon is reviewing whether a retired Navy SEAL who claims to have killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden disclosed classified details of the May 2011 raid that led to his death, according to a spokesman.
Esquire magazine and the Center for Investigative Reporting published an article this month titled “The Shooter. The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden...Is Screwed.”
“We are taking a look at this article to see if any classified information got spilled out,” spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Steve Warren told reporters today.
In addition to providing what are said to be details of the raid, the report also outlines health insurance benefit issues the SEAL said he is encountering with the Department of Veterans Affairs since retiring from the Navy after 16 years of service. The SEAL wasn’t named.
The Pentagon review marks the second time in less than a year a commando from the bin Laden operation has been investigated for the possible disclosure of classified details on the raid.
The Pentagon’s chief spokesman in September said a book written by a former Navy SEAL who participated in the raid contained classified information and violated non-disclosure agreements. The Pentagon has yet to take legal action against the author, Matt Bissonnette.
The Center for Investigative Reporting has no comment on the Pentagon review, executive director Robert Rosenthal said in an e-mailed statement.
Asked how the center and magazine verified the SEAL was the raider who actually fired the fatal shots, Rosenthal said the story resulted from “a full year of in-depth reporting and sourcing, which gives us great confidence that the shooter’s account of the final minutes of bin Laden’s life is accurate.”
“Out of concern for the safety of our sources, and based on our pre-publication agreements with them, we are not at liberty to go into any more detail than that contained in the story and related material, such as the web videos of conversations with” the author, Phil Bronstein, he said.
U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye said in an e-mailed statement that “prior to publication neither the Center for Investigative Reporting nor Esquire vetted the ‘Shooter’” article with the command or with “any of our components.”
Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman Captain William Fenick also said the news organizations did not contact his organization to check on the SEAL’s credentials.
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