Former Pentagon chief Mark Esper sues DOD over memoir redactions about Trump White House

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Mark Esper, the U.S defense secretary under President Donald Trump, is suing the Pentagon for allegedly trying to censor his memoir about his time in the administration even though at least some of the information was apparently already made public.

“Significant text is being improperly withheld from publication in Secretary Esper’s manuscript under the guise of classification,” the federal lawsuit claims. “The withheld text is crucial to telling important stories discussed in the manuscript.”

Esper, a U.S. Army Gulf War veteran, West Point graduate, and ex-lobbyist who was fired by Trump shortly after the 2020 election, claims that the Defense Department is “infringing” on his constitutionally protected free-speech rights under the First Amendment in the review process for his book due out in May 2022, titled “A Sacred Oath.”

Former executive branch officials are subject to a requirement that their manuscripts must be pre-audited for national security reasons, a standard which is sometimes applied in a vague or catch-all manner.

According to the New York Times, Esper says that “multiple words, sentences and paragraphs from approximately 60 pages of the manuscript were redacted” without explanation when he receive the vetted document back from government officials in the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.

He has suggested that classified information was not implicated in the editing.

Further to the redactions, Esper claimed that he was asked “not quote former President Trump and others in meetings, to not describe conversations between the former president and me, and to not use certain verbs or nouns when describing historical events.”

“I was also asked to delete my views on the actions of other countries, on conversations I held with foreign officials, and regarding international events that have been widely reported. Many items were already in the public domain; some were even published by [the Defense Department].”

Interestingly, Esper, who also has degrees from Harvard and George Washington University, also claims that some of the material in the book manuscript was leaked to the media during the review process which dragged on for six months.

Esper apparently had quite a bit of back and forth with the government reviewers, and also communicated with Defense Secretary Austin about his concerns, and explained in an email that “While I appreciate their efforts, I should not be required to change my views, opinions or descriptions of events simply because they may be too candid at times for normal diplomatic protocol.”

The Deep State became particularly adept at leaking information adverse to President Trump during his term in office. Esper himself was not considered particularly down with MAGA, however.

“Esper and Trump were sharply divided over the use of the military during civil unrest in June 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. Other issues led the president to believe Esper was not sufficiently loyal while Esper believed he was trying to keep the department apolitical. Firing a defense secretary after an election loss was unprecedented, but the opening allowed Trump to install loyalists in top Pentagon positions as he continued to dispute his election loss,” NBC News reported.

Since just about everything in Washington seems to be transactional, it remains to be seen if Esper’s tome will be yet another self-serving, Trump-bashing exercise to generate book royalties and clout-chasing interviews in the corporate media or if it will be an even-handed historical record.

This particular book is touted as “an unvarnished and candid memoir of those remarkable and dangerous times,” i.e., during Esper’s year-and-half as the head of the Defense Department, when the Trump White House was supposedly trying to “circumvent” the U.S. Constitution, which suggests the content may likely reflect Beltway groupthink.

Given the Democrats’ ongoing obsession with all things Donald Trump even at this late date, it’s not clear in this instance why the Biden administration would want to block a book on grounds of executive privilege that presumably is critical of Joe’s predecessor and perhaps future rival in an election rematch, if there is one.

“Esper’s memoir might not even put a dent in Trump’s 2024 plans regardless of what he has to say. Either the Pentagon is panicking, or Esper really did cross some lines that should have been respected,” the Hot Air blog theorized.

Many of POTUS 45’s most fervent supporters have acknowledged that he made several lackluster hires by relying on recommendations from the America Last GOP establishment. Esper was secretary of the Army before Trump promoted him.

While still on the job, Secretary Esper allegedly was aware that the  CRT-loving chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, called his CCP counterpart to controversially promise that he would provide advanced warning of any theoretical U.S. military action against the communist regime in China.

Esper is being represented by Attorney Mark Zaid. One of Zaid’s clients is or was U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, a man who Fox News host Tucker Carlson previously described as an “angry, left-wing political activist.”

Reacting to Esper’s lawsuit, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the specifics of the legal complaint, which is standard operating procedure in high-profile litigation.

“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.”


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