Monday, September 27, 2010

White House Intel Flop Costs Taxpayers

From Our "Does It Get Any Weirder than This?" Department

Washington (CNN) -- 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 for Obama's White House said Sept. 25.

"DoD decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they [sic] 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."  The cost to taxpayers for the action is estimated at nearly $50,000.

Shaffer says he was notified the day before about the Pentagon's purchase.

"The whole premise smacks of retaliation," Shaffer told CNN following White House admissions. "Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous."  Even more so, apparently, when an unknown and unspecified number of digital copies are still circulating as eBooks.

"I followed my instructions from the Department of the Army to the letter," Shaffer said.  "I even warned DOD that their destruction of these books would only create more demand and increase readership."

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--"Even hyphens in hyphenated words," Shaffer said--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 had been 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.


Copyright 2010 AmSAW

No comments: