Pentagon moves to silence SEALs about missions

WASHINGTON — The military is cracking down on special operations troops who share knowledge of their secret missions for profit, punishing seven Navy SEALs, including one involved in the mission to get Osama bin Laden, who moonlighted as advisers on a combat videogame.

Current and former SEALs, including the author of a tell-all book on the bin Laden raid, said they are getting mixed signals from the military, which likes to see itself on big and small screens on its own terms.

The seven SEALs are being reprimanded and having their pay docked for sharing information with the designers of ‘‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter,’’ by videogame company EA, according to military officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the inquiries publicly.


The men will remain in the SEAL teams, but were punished for working on the videogame without their command’s permission, revealing classified information by sharing tactics they use and showing designers some specially designed combat equipment unique to their unit, the officials said.

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Four more SEALs could face similar punishment.

The deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, said in a statement that nonjudicial punishments had been issued for misconduct, but he did not offer details.

‘‘We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors in the United States Navy,’’ Bonelli said. He alluded to the importance of honoring nondisclosure agreements that SEALs sign.

He said the punishments this week ‘‘send a clear message throughout our force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability.’’


The SEALs’ unauthorized work came to light in the inquiry into the book ‘‘No Easy Day,’’ by former SEAL Matt Bissonnette, with his firsthand account of the raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan. Publisher Penguin’s Dutton Imprint ignored the Pentagon’s warnings that the book contained classified information and published the book just ahead of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks.

The Pentagon would have a hard time proving videogame makers had disseminated classified information that threatened national security because the combat tactics in the game are common to games and action films, said Mark Zaid, a Washington-based national security attorney who handles cases involving secrecy agreements and classified information.

EA spokesman Peter Nguyen said the company has no plans to recall ‘‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter,’’ and there are ‘‘no plans to alter the content contributed by combat veterans in the game.’’