Dept. of Defense Pulps Army Reserve Officer’s Memoir, Drives eBay Price to $2,000

The Department of Defense purchased and destroyed almost 10,000 copies of the St. Martin’s Press first printing of black-ops team leader Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s Afghanistan memoir Operation Dark Heart, says CNN, “because they contained information which could cause damage to national security.”

Buy you can still read it, with most of the good parts freshly redacted. St. Martin’s Press has already released a second printing with changes the government requested. To wit, from CNN:

From single words and names to entire paragraphs, blacked out lines appear throughout the book’s 299 pages….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.”

A statement St. Martin’s site said:

On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin’s Press was readying its initial shipment of this book, the Department of Defense contacted us to express its concern that our publication ofOperation Dark Heart could cause damage to U.S. national security. After consulting with our author, we agreed to incorporate some of the government’s changes into a revised edition of his book while redacting other text he was told was classified. The newly revised book keeps our national interests secure, but this highly qualified warrior’s story is still intact. Shaffer’s assessment of successes and failures in Afghanistan remains dramatic, shocking, and crucial reading for anyone concerned about the outcome of the war.

“While I do not agree with the edits in many ways, the DoD redactions enhance the reader’s understanding by drawing attention to the flawed results created by a disorganized and heavy handed military intelligence bureaucracy.” —Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.

I feel pretty confident that, well, you know that howling sound you don’t hear? That’s the sound of an old and pissed-off citizen soldier putting a brave face on it.

The author’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, said the manuscript was cleared through Shaffer’s military superiors prior to printing, which presumably means the the Army Reserve, the DOD did not clear it.

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.” But a Defense Department spokesman said that the book had not been cleared by the Army itself or by DOD, and therefore did not follow proper DOD procedure.

Lt. Col. Shaffer is a Bronze Star recipient and US Army Reserve officer. The Defense Department will reimburse St. Martin’s for the cost of the books. CNN cites at least one unverified listing on eBay claiming to be a copy of the first (unredacted) for $2,000.

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