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Pentagon May Buy Up Copies of Afghan War Book Over Disclosure Fears

4 years ago
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Don't burn 'em, buy 'em. The Defense Department wants to purchase the entire first printing of a book by a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who describes a number of planned secret operations in the Afghanistan war.

Ten thousand copies of the book "Operation Dark Heart," by an Army reservist, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, are in a Virginia warehouse, but they are scheduled to be shipped to bookstores later this month by St. Martin's Press, the Washington Post reported Friday. The book was cleared by the Army Reserve earlier this year, but now the Defense Intelligence Agency is objecting to the use of names of U.S. intel officers, among other issues. A Pentagon official told the Post the DIA discovered "some issues we were very concerned with" and referred the matter to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Other agencies then weighed in, the official said, and all of them "had major objections to things in this book."

The idea is to simply buy out the first edition, with an agreement to make modifications in the second printing. In the book, Shaffer, now a fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, describes his frustrations when attention shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2003, the Post said. The Bronze Star winner writes about a number of covert plans, including an aborted cross-border surveillance operation using sophisticated technology to eavesdrop on al-Qaeda in tribal areas of Pakistan.

What's unresolved is how to handle the 10,000 copies of the book's first edition. Assuming the Defense Department can work out a deal to buy the books -- at $25.99 a copy, that would cost a mere $259,900, a pittance to the Pentagon -- then what? Shredder, anyone?

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