(CBS News) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is speaking out for the first time about the Navy SEAL who continues to make headlines with his revealing book about the night Osama bin Laden was killed.
Panetta spoke with "CBS This Morning" co-host, Norah O'Donnell, and while he maintained that Americans have a right to know details about the raid, he came out against the SEAL -- who goes by the pseudonym Mark Owen -- and his book.
"There's no question that the American people have a right to know about this operation," Panetta said. "But people who are a part of that operation, who commit themselves to the promise that they will not reveal the sensitive operations and not public anything ... when they fail to do that, we have got to make sure that they stand by the promise that they made to this country."
Panetta allowed that while much of Owen's account is sensitive but not necessarily classified information, he added that "there's always fine lines here, but we are currently reviewing what is classified and what isn't."
He also told O'Donnell that the book could compromise U.S. security, explaining, "It tells our enemies essentially how we operate and what we do to go after them and when you do that, you tip them off."
In addition, his account could put Owen himself at greater risk. "He was very much a part of the operation that got bin Laden," Panetta said. "There's no question that that should make him concerned, makes us concerned about his safety."
Norah O'Donnell mentioned that many other publications have published in-depth details about the raid, but Panetta insisted Owen's book is different.
"There's a fundamental difference ... the people that presented some of the details of the operation were authorized to do so by the president of the United States who has the authority to do that and informed the American people as to what happened. In this case, that was not the case."Panetta stopped short of saying that Owen should definitely be prosecuted, but said "I think we have to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."
Panetta turned to touch on the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the lack of attention being paid to the conflict due to the presidential campaign.
"I'm concerned that not enough attention is being paid to the sacrifices being made," he said before adding, "there's a war going on."
He also told O'Donnell he thinks the U.S. is safer today than it has been in years.
"I know there's a political debate going on about that issue ... I think if you look at the facts, the fact that we were able to bring bin Laden to justice, the fact that we've decimated al Qaeda's leadership ... the fact that we got rid of Qaddafi in Libya ... I think the bottom line implication is that America is safer."
The defense secretary went on to say that he is confident we are taking the right steps to monitor Iran's potential nuclear capabilities. "We have pretty good intelligence on them, we keep a close track on them," Panetta said, "We think we've got the ability to be able to strike at them effectively if we have to ... whenever we have to, we have the forces in place."
He spoke with O'Donnell about his current role at the Pentagon and the potential defense sequestration budget cuts that may soon go into effect. He admitted that the Pentagon has not yet begun preparing the looming cuts, and added;
What's irresponsible is the fact that...they put these cuts into place and they are failing to come up with the answer as to how to prevent this from happening...They said 'Let's put a gun to our head and if we don't do the right thing, we'll blow our heads off.' Well, now they've cocked the gun. This thing's supposed to take effect in January, but the whole purpose of it was both Republicans and Democrats to do the right thing and to prevent this from happening. That's what irresponsible.