Former Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper sued his old department on Sunday, claiming it had redacted “multiple words, sentences and paragraphs from approximately 60 pages” of his unpublished book without explanation after he submitted it for standard review.
“Significant text is being improperly withheld from publication... under the guise of classification,” Esper claimed in his lawsuit. He added that the blocked text was “crucial” to producing an “unvarnished and candid memoir.” The Pentagon was unable to confirm that “the redacted items contain classified information or compromise national security,” Esper added in the complaint. The former cabinet member’s book, titled A Sacred Oath and due out in May 2022, will purportedly chronicle his “remarkable and dangerous” period as defense secretary under former president Donald Trump.
According to The New York Times, Esper may be the most senior former government official yet to sue over pre-publication restraint. Purged from the Trump administration in Nov. 2020 for “insufficient loyalty,” Esper said Sunday that he was “more than disappointed the current administration is infringing on my First Amendment constitutional rights.” The Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, John F. Kirby, addressed the matter in a brief statement: “As with all such reviews, the department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire.”