According to a CNN update late last night the Pentagon has gone ahead and purchased the first run of nearly 10,000 copies and destroyed them on September 20th.
A second edition of the book is being released by the publisher (St. Martin's Press) with information the US government objected to removed.
I think the author's comment nicely sums up the ridiculous nature of this action by the Pentagon:
"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."I love Shaffer's comment about the futility of buying and burning books. This ridiculous situation just highlights how influential digital resources are in the free flow of information and how futile it is to try and stop the spread of information by burning books. Symbolically though this is an event to be angry about.
As we head into Banned Books Week in the US this is certainly a timely issue and I hope people make the effort to speak out about this kind of censorship.
So, anyone know where we can access a digital copy for the first edition?
from the Washington Post (Sept 10, 2010)
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's memoir "Operation Dark Heart" is about to sell out it's first run of 10,000 copies as the US Defense Department hopes to keep the book out of the hands of readers by purchasing the entire printing. The entire first edition is slated to be destroyed if the Defense Department succeeds.
The memoir recounts Shaffer's time as a reservist in Afghanistan in 2003 and describes several covert operations. The book was officially approved by the Army Reserve in early 2010, but objections to the use of the names of US officers among other details were raised after written approval had been granted.
A second printing will have controversial information removed as agreed upon by Shaffer, the publisher and the Army Reserve/DIA representatives, but the fate of this first printing is undecided. Currently the first printing is sitting in a warehouse awaiting disposal by the Defense Dept.
Quoting the Washington Post article:
"Several dozen review copies of the first edition have already been circulated to media outlets, including The Washington Post."
It is questionable what the Pentagon hopes to achieve by destroying this printing when the information has 'leaked' in the form of review copies. In light of the wikileaks debates, the value of information that is over five years old related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is controversial. Will this information potentially compromise military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, or is the danger in casting governments in a poor light?
Interestingly (and timely on the 9th anniversary of September 11th), the author of this memoir, Anthony Shaffer is also known for "alleging before the 9/11 Commission and Congress that a covert Pentagon task force called "Able Danger" had identified Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks, before the assaults on New York and the Pentagon. Shaffer's claim was later rejected by congressional investigators, among others. But he repeats the assertion in the book" (Finn, Peter & Greg Miller, Pentagon aims to buy up book. Washington Post online, Sept 10, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/09/AR2010090907747.html accessed Sept 10, 2010.)