In both cases, the respective judges held that both men were legally bound by the secrecy and related agreements they had signed not to publish anything about their time in government without first submitting the material for what is commonly referred to as “pre‐publication review”—a euphemism for government censorship. The original and still controlling major case that guaranteed these outcomes is the four‐decade old Snepp v U.S. (444 U.S. 507 (1980)) Supreme Court decision.
The plaintiff, former CIA Director of Operations employee Frank Snepp, published a completely unclassified account of his time and experience dealing with American involvement in the Vietnam War. When the Agency learned of Snepp’s action, it sued in federal court to seize Snepp’s royalties from the book and enjoin him from any other publishing endeavors without prior Agency approval.
Without even hearing oral arguments in the case, the Court sided with the Agency. Here’s the key paragraph from the decision: