CNN & Fox News – 2010-09-28 01:03:19
Pentagon Destroys Thousands of Copies of Army Officer’s Memoir
Chris Lawrence and Padma Rama / CNN
Washington (September 25, 2010) — The Department of Defense recently purchased and destroyed thousands of copies of an Army Reserve officer’s memoir in an effort to safeguard state secrets, a spokeswoman said Saturday.
“DoD decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said.
In a statement to CNN, Cunningham said defense officials observed the September 20 destruction of about 9,500 copies of Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s new memoir “Operation Dark Heart.”
Shaffer says he was notified Friday about the Pentagon’s purchase. “The whole premise smacks of retaliation,” Shaffer told CNN on Saturday. “Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.”
Shaffer’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, released a second printing of the book that it said had incorporated some changes the government had sought “while redacting other text he (Shaffer) was told was classified.”
From single words and names to entire paragraphs, blacked out lines appear throughout the book’s 299 pages.
CNN obtained a memo from the Defense Intelligence Agency dated August 6 in which Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess claims the DIA tried for nearly two months to get a copy of the manuscript. Burgess said the DIA’s investigation “identified significant classified information, the release of which I have determined could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to national security.”
Burgess said the manuscript contained secret activities of the U.S. Special Operations Command, CIA and National Security Agency.
Shaffer’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, said earlier this month that the book was reviewed by Shaffer’s military superiors prior to publication. “There was a green light from the Army Reserve Command,” Zaid told CNN.
But intelligence agencies apparently raised objections when they received copies of the book.
The Pentagon contacted St. Martin’s Press in early August to convey its concerns over the release of the book. According to the publisher, at that time the first printings were just about to be shipped from its warehouse. Shaffer said he and the publisher worked hard “to make sure nothing in the book would be detrimental to national security.”
“When you look at what they took out (in the 2nd edition), it’s lunacy,” Shaffer said.
The Pentagon says Shaffer should have sought wider clearance for the memoir. “He did clear it with Army Reserve but not with the larger Army and with Department of Defense,” Department of Defense spokesman Col. David Lapan said earlier this month. “So he did not meet the requirements under Department of Defense regulations for security review.”
One of the book’s first lines reads, “Here I was in Afghanistan (redaction) My job: to run the Defense Intelligence Agency’s operations out of (redaction) the hub for U.S. operations in country.”
In chapter 15, titled “Tipping Point,” 21 lines within the first two pages are blacked out.
In the memoir, Shaffer recalls his time in Afghanistan leading a black-ops team during the Bush administration. The Bronze Star medal recipient told CNN he believes the Bush administraton’s biggest mistake during that time was misunderstanding the culture there.
Defense officials said they are in the process of reimbursing the publisher for the cost of the first printing and have not purchased copies of the redacted version.
At least one seller on the online auction site eBay claiming to have a first-edition printing is selling it for an asking price of nearly $2,000. The listed retail price for the second printing is $25.99.
An electronic version of the books will soon be available online at:
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Operation Dark Heart Reviews
“This is one terrific book, done with fascinating detail that allows the reader to experience the hard sharp edge of what it is like to be a 21st century intelligence operative searching the by-ways and back alleys of the harshest environs and most troublesome terrorist havens on the face of the earthâ€¦Tony Shaffer is among the best “counterterrorism soldiers” and “intelligence operatives” this country has put in the field. He has keen insight and expertise that policy makers should appreciate and leverage regarding Afghanistan. He has the ability to express his views in the drawing rooms of Washington and among the public-focused media centers of the world. These valuable traits mark him as worth interacting with and by extension mark this book as worth the time of any reader — no matter what their political or operational persuasion.”
— Anonymous Government Source (identity redacted from transcript)
“A fascinating look into the highly complex world of modern combat, clandestine intelligence and bureaucrats run amok . Tony Shaffer walks and runs us through a critical time in the history in the war in Afghanistan. You live the battles, both personal and professional, through his eyes and he leaves it to us, the reader, to arrive at our own conclusions. And what makes this all the more compelling is that while this is an action adventure, it is a real account — not a work of fiction or fantasy. His observations and policy recommendations are likely the only hope we have for achieving, and sustaining a victory in Afghanistan. From the opening to the closing, you are on the edge of your seatâ€¦Tony is, in all aspects, the real Jack Bauer â€“ but with an intellect.”
— Dr. Chris Lehman, Special Assistant to President Reagan, National Security Counsel
â€œAnthony Shaffer has written a gripping account, filled with amazing detail, of an otherwise secret world. Shaffer has the instincts of a thriller writer and the knowledge and perspective of the professional insider. Operation Dark Heart is a fascinating page-turner.
— Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers
“A nonfiction book that frequently reads like an adventure novel, this account of the authorâ€™s intelligence operations in post-9/11 Afghanistan should definitely strike a chord with readers. Shaffer was an intelligence operative from an early age, joining army counterintelligence in the early 1980s at the age of 19.
By 1991, he was running HUMINT, the armyâ€™s clandestine human-intelligence program. Prior to 2001, he was working on an operation called Able Danger, which, according Shaffer, uncovered some of the 9/11 terrorists a full year before the attacks, althoughâ€”again, according to Shafferâ€”the government blocked attempts to act upon the information. He saw the same sort of thing happen again in Afghanistan, when red tape and inept policies hindered efforts to fight the Taliban.
This is almost two books in one: a rousing chronicle of the authorâ€™s experiences on foreign soil and an examination of a bloated bureaucracy that is in desperate need of retooling. Shaffer adopts a mostly objective tone, although there are moments when his personal views sneak through (the phrase “Bush administration lunacy,” for example).
Although no coauthor is listed, the book reads like it was transcribed from taped interviews (see the occasional oddly constructed paragraph where it looks like someone stuck in parenthetical explanations of things the author was saying). All in all, a fascinating, eye-opening book.”
— David Pitt / Booklist Online
Pentagon Paid $47,000 to Destroy Sept. 11 Memoir
The Department of Defense paid $5 per book to burn the 9,500 copies of “Operation Dark Heart,” Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s memoir about going undercover in Afghanistan that the Pentagon claims revealed too many national security secrets.
A source confirmed to Fox News that while the Defense Department is making significant budget cuts, it spent in excess of $47,000 in taxpayer money to destroy the book that had earlier been cleared by the US Army.
The Defense Intelligence Agency objected to the book’s publication, spurring a review that resulted in its being blocked over recollections in the book about the controversial pre-Sept. 11, 2001, data mining project called “Able Danger.”
Shaffer claimed in the book that Able Danger had successfully identified hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat to the United States nearly a year before the Sept. 11 terror attacks but that information — shared with the Sept. 11 commission after the attack — was left out of the commission’s final report.
In a letter obtained by Fox News, the DIA says national security could be breached if “Operation Dark Heart” were published in its current form.
Click here to read the full DIA letter (pdf)
“Apparently, Defense Intelligence Agency took exception to the way the Army cleared the book,” Shaffer told Fox News in an interview conducted before he was asked by the military not to discuss the book. He confirmed efforts to block the book, a move he called “highly unusual.”
A new version of the book has been published, which the book’s publisher “voluntarily agreed” to do, Shaffer said.
The Pentagon is currently working with the publisher to “mitigate the resulting effects of the disclosures,” a Defense Department official told Fox News
“Given the sensitive nature of this request and the potential damage to national security, the Department of Defense had every reason to believe that this would be handled with the utmost discretion by all of the parties.
Unfortunately, someone disclosed to the press these ongoing efforts before the Department of Defense had the opportunity to finish working with the publisher on a corrected version,” the official said.
But the Pentagon’s claims about national security breaches are still very much in dispute, and the Defense Department had been forced to abandon its request and a majority of others because the information was already public.
Among the information DIA objected to including in the book were references to a meeting between Shaffer and Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the Sept. 11 commission.
In that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, Shaffer alleges he told Zelikow about “Able Danger” and Atta, the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center.
Shaffer, who was undercover at the time, said there was “stunned silence” at the meeting after he told Zelikow and others that Atta was identified as early as 2000 by “Able Danger.”
“Dr. Philip Zelikow approached me in the corner of the room. ‘What you said today is very important. I need you to get in touch with me as soon as you return from your deployment here in Afghanistan,'” Shaffer said.
But once back in the US, Shaffer says he contacted the commission. Without explanation, the commission was no longer interested in his statement.
No mention of Atta’s early detection was made in the final Sept. 11 commission report.
An inspector general report by the Department of Defense concluded there was no evidence to support the claims of Shaffer and others. But Fox News has obtained an unredacted copy of the IG report containing the names of witnesses, who backed up Shaffer’s story when contacted for comment.
The documents and exclusive interviews, including an Army data collector on the Able Danger Project, are part of an ongoing investigation by the documentary unit “Fox News Reporting” which uncovered new details about American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and efforts by the FBI to track and recruit Awlaki for intelligence purposes after Sept. 11.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.