While the Pentagon is still mulling over whether to prosecute Navy SEAL author Matt Bissonnette, it is sure about one thing: it doesn't want any of its employees tweeting about that guy's best-selling book. Today, the Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough reports the Defense Department has issued guidelines on handling No Easy Day, the blow-by-blow memoir about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden and employees are prohibited from tweeting, Facebooking, or using their personal email to discuss the book. They are allowed, however, to purchase a copy of it—and the Pentagon doesn't even mind if they put it on a bookshelf rather than, as Scarborough writes, "special containers for classified information." Scaborough describes the four other rules as follows:
Workers “shall not discuss potentially classified and sensitive unclassified information with persons who do not have an official need to know and an appropriate security clearance.”
People with first-hand knowledge of the raid “shall not publicly speculate or discuss potentially classified or sensitive unclassified information outside official U.S. Government channels.”
And, finally, employees “are prohibited from using unclassified government computer systems to discuss potentially classified or sensitive contents of [No Easy Day], and must not engage in online discussions via social networking or media sites regarding potentially classified or sensitive unclassified information that may be contained in [No Easy Day].”
The crackdown on discussion about the book, which has been widely dissected in book reviews and an hour-long segment on 60 Minutes, summons the memory of crackdowns on drones and WikiLeaks materials: Things the public and the press already know a lot about, but the government has to pretend is top secret. As Time's Lily Rothman reported last week, according to Publisher's Weekly the book sold 253,000 hard copies in its first week, a calculation that doesn't even include Walmart sales. It's safe to say, if there's classified material in the book, the secret's out!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.