Pentagon Observes Banned Books Week?

Pentagon Observes Banned Books Week?

In recognition of Banned Book Week, the Defense Department bought up nearly 10,000 copies of a memoir and destroyed them. The book, Operation Dark Heart, was written by former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Anthony A. Shaffer and covers his special operations experience in Afghanistan.

But the real issue here is not censorship but intelligence incompetence. Mr. Shaffer had submitted the volume to his Army superiors for pre-publication review in January, and it was cleared. DIA only learned about the book after it was printed, and asked St. Martin’s Press to put a hold on distribution, originally planned for August 31st. The DoD bought up and destroyed 9,500 copies of the first printing.

So the DIA is unaware of what the U.S. Army is doing, and seems equally unfamiliar with the publishing industry. Advance copies of  Operation Dark Heart were undoubtedly sent to scores of reviewers, so the book buyout and burn-up really accomplished nothing.

“Disputes between the government and former intelligence officials over whether their books reveal too much have become commonplace. But veterans of the publishing industry and intelligence agencies could not recall another case in which an agency sought to dispose of a book that had already been printed.”
–“Pentagon Plan: Buying Books to Keep Secrets,” Scott Shane, New York Times


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: