(New York, NY) — Today PEN America commented on former Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper’s lawsuit against the Department of Defense, accusing his past agency of unnecessarily blocking portions of his upcoming memoir. 

“Transparency and free speech are essential to a healthy democracy,” said PEN America’s Washington director, Nadine Farid Johnson. “Unnecessarily blacking out sections of former Secretary Esper’s memoir could be an attack on both. If indeed the Department of Defense is attempting to block parts of the book that are otherwise public knowledge or reflect Esper’s personal take on events, it would be a worrying example of the Biden administration continuing its predecessor’s abuse of the letter of intent of the pre-publication review process to infringe on the free expression of former government officials. The public has a right to hear and draw their own conclusions about Esper’s take on his experiences in the Trump administration.”

Last year, PEN America filed a legal brief against the Trump administration’s efforts to bar former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his forthcoming book.