Pentagon aims to buy up bookby Peter Finn and Greg Miller
The Defense Department is attempting to buy the entire first printing - 10,000 copies - of a memoir by a controversial former Defense Intelligence Agency officer so that the book can be destroyed, according to military and other sources.
"Operation Dark Heart," which was scheduled to be published this month by St. Martin's Press, recounts the adventures and frustrations of an Army reservist, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who served in Afghanistan in 2003, a moment when the attention of Washington and the military had shifted to Iraq.
Shaffer, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, describes a number of planned covert operations, including an aborted cross-border surveillance operation using sophisticated eavesdropping technology that targeted high-level al-Qaeda operatives based in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
The operation was shut down by military officials concerned about offending Pakistan, according to Shaffer's account.
Shaffer's book was reviewed and cleared in writing by the Army Reserve earlier this year, but this summer the Defense Intelligence Agency objected to the use of the names of American intelligence officers, among other issues.
A senior Pentagon official said that the DIA obtained a copy of the manuscript in mid-July, adding that the agency "did a quick review" and found "some issues we were very concerned with." The agency then referred the matter to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which distributed the manuscript to other agencies, presumably including the CIA, "all of whom had major objections to things in the book," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the Defense Department "sent up a team to talk with the publisher some time ago," and has been negotiating an agreement that might allow the Pentagon to purchase already printed copies of the book and permit a subsequent version to go forward as long as it complies with U.S. government requests.
Both sides now appear to have agreed on the contents of the second printing, but negotiations are focused on what to with the 10,000 copies already published.
The Pentagon is now negotiating with Shaffer's publisher to buy the entire first print run, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The Pentagon's plan to destroy all 10,000 copies of the initial printing was first reported Thursday night by the New York Times.
A new print run, without the disputed passages, is being prepared by the publisher. Meanwhile, the first printing is sitting in a warehouse in Virginia. Several dozen review copies of the first edition have already been circulated to media outlets, including The Washington Post.