Mark Esper, the United States defense secretary under President Trump, is suing the U.S. Pentagon for allegedly attempting to censor his memoir about his work in Trump White House even though at least some of the details were apparently already public.
“Large amounts of text was improperly kept from publication in Sec. Esper’s manuscript under the guise of classification,” the lawsuit says. “The withheld text is important to telling stories spoken about in the manuscript.”
Esper, a United States Army Gulf War veteran, West Point graduate, and former lobbyist who was fired by Donald Trump after the 2020 presidential election, claims that the DOD is “infringing” on his free-speech in the review process for his book meant to be released in May 2022, named “A Sacred Oath.”
Former executive branch leaders are subject to a requirement that their manuscripts be pre-audited for national security measures, a standard which is usually applied in a vague manner.
According to the NY Times, Esper says that “numerous words and paragraphs from around 60 pages of the manuscript got redacted” without any explanation when he got the vetted document back from government officials in the Defense Office of Prepublication for Security Review.
He has said that classified information was not removed in the editing.
In addition to the redactions, Esper said he was asked to “not quote former President Trump and other people in meetings, to not describe their conversations with the former president and myself, and to not use certain nouns or verbs when describing historical events.”
“I was also asked to remove my views about the actions of other nations, on conversations I had with foreign officials, and about international events that were widely reported. Many items were already there in the public domain; some were even published by the Defense Dept.”
Esper had a contention relationship with Donald Trump. “Esper and Donald Trump were sharply divided over using the military during the civil unrest of June 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. Other issues caused the president to think Esper was not very loyal while Esper thought he was trying to keep the department apolitical. Firing the defense secretary after an election loss was surprising, but the opening allowed Donald Trump to install loyalists to help dispute his election loss,” NBC News reported.
Author: Steven Sinclaire