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Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon, which he says ordered him to write parts of a “blunt and frank memoir” he hopes to publish about his days at Home Trump’s White.
Esper, who was sacked by then-President Donald Trump after the November 2020 election, said the Defense Department, which he led for nearly 16 months, “arbitrarily” drafted the manuscript of the delivered, A sacred oath.
“Important text is unduly denied for publication … under the guise of classification,” says lawsuit filed Sunday in US District Court for the District of Columbia, as reported The New York Times. “The text retained is crucial in telling the important stories discussed in the manuscript.”
Balancing transparency and security
The lawsuit, obtained by NPR, describes Esper’s short tenure as head of the Defense Department as “an unprecedented time of civil unrest, public health crises, growing threats abroad, Pentagon transformation and a White House apparently determined to circumvent the Constitution “.
A promotional copy on Amazon says the book will reveal “the shocking details of [Esper’s] tumultuous tenure while serving in the Trump administration. The book is expected to be published in May by William Morrow.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told NPR in a statement that the department was aware of Esper’s concerns. “As with all of these reviews, the department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire,” he said, adding that since this was now a question legal, there would be no further comment.
A high-level narrative of the Trump era
Esper was fired on November 9, 2020, apparently following a number of political differences – including his refusal to threats from Trump to use active-duty military personnel to respond to the Black Lives Matter protests. Trump wrote in a tweet that Esper had been “fired”.
In a tweet on SundayEsper’s lawyer Mark Zaid said the former defense secretary is the “most senior official to ever sue” to challenge such redactions.
In an email to NPR, Zaid added that it was “very unusual for someone as high as a cabinet official not to have enough opportunity to discuss everything. [government] concerns. “
The approval process
The lawsuit says Esper submitted the manuscript last May, and when he received a response last month, it contained redactions of parts of 60 pages.
He said Esper emailed current Secretary of State Lloyd Austin earlier this month after being told “not to quote former President Trump and others in meetings [and] not to describe the conversations between the former president and me, and not to use certain verbs or nouns to describe historical events. “
Esper is bound by confidentiality rules to give the Pentagon a first glimpse of any potentially sensitive manuscript.
“For almost six months, I patiently went through the formal process, only to have my unclassified manuscript drafted arbitrarily without being clearly told why,” Esper said in his statement, adding that he was disappointed by the administration for what it considers a violation of its constitutional rights.
Book disputes like Esper’s go back decades, with former officials at odds with current administrations balancing transparency and national security. In some cases, the books have been published despite objections, such as in the case of former national security adviser John Bolton.
NPR National Security Correspondent Tom Bowman contributed to this report.