Recently, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a Republican, is suing the Pentagon. He claims that his former department is illegally blocking portions of his forthcoming memoirs by claiming it to be classified information.
From July 2019 to his firing by President Trump in November, Esper was defense secretary. He filed a lawsuit claiming that the Pentagon is “improperly” suppressing “significant text” from his forthcoming memoir “under the guise of classification.”
“The withheld text is crucial to telling important stories discussed in the Manuscript,” the lawsuit stated.
The book, which Esper titled “A Sacred Oath,” is slated to be released next year. It details the former secretary’s experience in what he refers to as a “tumultuous second half of the Trump administration.”
In a statement, Esper said his memoir “offers important details and new insights into many of the most controversial events” that transpired during that time.
1/Today we filed lawsuit for former Trump Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to challenge @DeptofDefense prepublication classification review that is blocking portions of his manuscript from being published.— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) November 28, 2021
Esper is highest-ranking official to ever sue.https://t.co/ySuXD2V9Rb
The West Point alumnus blasted the Pentagon for “delaying, obstructing and infringing on his constitutional right to publish” the new book.
“I am more than disappointed the current Administration is infringing on my First Amendment constitutional rights. And it is with regret that legal recourse is the only path now available for me to tell my full story to the American people,” Esper said in a statement.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the department is “aware of Mr. Esper’s concerns regarding the pre-publication of his memoir.”
“As with all such reviews, the Department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire. Given that this matter is now under litigation, we will refrain from commenting further,” Kirby added.
According to the lawsuit Esper submitted his manuscript to the Pentagon in May 2021, for the mandatory pre-publication review process that executive branch employees must comply with.
The ex-Army service member said he “engaged in extensive interactions and coordination” with the Defense Department’s Office of Pre-publication and Security Review (DoDOPSR). The lawsuit states that the delay that the review process was taking was uncommon for a former Secretary of Defense.
Esper received an email on Oct. 7 from DoDOPSR, informing him that his review of the manuscript was complete and that he would also be receiving a copy of the pages that needed some redactions. Esper asserts that he spoke with the Pentagon between Oct. 7 and Nov. 8 to find out why redactions were requested. However, his questions were never answered.