The nation's top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.
A former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about his personal account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden could be penalized for not first seeking military approval of its contents before publication, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
''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 told CBS' "This Morning" program, which broadcast the interview on Tuesday.
"If we don't, then everybody else who pledges to ensure that that doesn't happen is going to get the wrong signal that somehow they can do it without any penalty," Panetta said.
Newly published "No Easy Day" was written by Matt Bissonnette under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The book was not pre-approved by the Pentagon.
Panetta, who was the CIA chief who oversaw the May 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed the al Qaeda leader, said authorities "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly what is classified and what isn't."
Panetta said that there is "no question that the American people have a right to know about this operation" against bin Laden's compound.
But he stressed that those involved who agreed to not reveal "the sensitive operations" and to not publish anything without a Pentagon review must be held accountable for "the promise they made to this country."
He said revealing "that kind of information" does "indeed jeopardize other operations and the lives of those involved in those missions.
It is not clear what steps the Pentagon could take in this case but the Defense Department's top lawyer has threatened legal action.
Bissonnette's attorney said in a previous statement that the author "sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk."
Pentagon officials have previously said that they are concerned about whether the publication reveals how SEAL units are organized, trained and operate, rather than simply specifics of the bin Laden mission, which are largely known.