The New York Times reported on Sunday that former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is suing the Department of Defense for allegedly preventing sections of his memoir from being published. The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C.
Esper is asking the court to allow the publication of previously unclassified portions of his memoir, “A Sacred Oath,” which details his time working under former President Donald Trump. The suit said, “Significant text is being improperly withheld from publication in Secretary Esper’s manuscript under the guise of classification. The withheld text is crucial to telling important stories discussed in the manuscript.”
Esper served as secretary of defense under Trump from July 2019 to November 2020 when he was fired by Trump in the days following the election.
According to Esper, he spent his last days at the Pentagon trying to prevent Trump from using the military against Americans during “the days before, the day of, and the days after the election.” In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Esper said, “The American people deserve a full and unvarnished accounting of our nation’s history.”
He added that his memoir includes “important details and new insights” into the former administration. After he submitted his memoir to the Department of Defense and waiting six months, Esper said the manuscript was “arbitrarily redacted without clearly being told why.”
The Pentagon’s chief spokesman, John Kirby, gave a statement in response to Esper’s manuscript and the lawsuit: “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.”
Esper relayed his frustration with the stop to parts of his manuscript. “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,” he said.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BROOKINGS.EDU